|Sen.Velmanette Montgomery, Asbm. David Weprin, Carol Schaefer, Lorraine|
related this incident yesterday at a press conference in support of the Adoptee Rights Bill in New York that would allow adult adoptees to obtain a copy of their original, unamended birth certificates at age 18. The incident was reminiscent of Steve Job's going into his father's restaurant in California before he knew who his father was.
'VALUABLE LIFE-SAVING INFORMATION'
A enthusiastic group of adoptees and first parents in support of the proposed legislation--approximately a hundred strong--demonstrated in the hot sun at New York's City Hall. The chief sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens), stated in his introductory remarks: "The Bill of Adoptee Rights allows adoptees to gain knowledge of their religious and ethnic heritage and gain access to vital medical information that may be beneficial for preventative health care for the treatment of diseases or disorders linked to family history and genetics."
Weprin then related the story of first mother Jill Auerbach who found her son as he was approaching 40, and was able to inform him that both his father and paternal grandfather died of heart disease in the 40s. The information, Weprin said, allowed him to see cardiologist because now he had "valuable and life-saving information" that he would not have otherwise had. He pointed out that not only may Auerbach have saved her son's life, she also found the peace that such a reunion can bring, but was able to do so only because she had the resources to hire a private investigator. This right of mother and child to connect--and share such valuable medical data--he added, should be readily available to everyone, a feat that would be accomplished for most if adoptees were given their unamended birth certificates.
|On the steps of City Hall in Manhattan yesterday Photo by David Petruzziello|
Ah yes, politics.
Weprin noted that we have 82 sponsors of the bill and he was quite adamant that if he can get the bill to the floor of the Assembly, it would pass. Passage in the Assembly would certainly give new focus to the Senate bill, co-sponsored there with Anthony Lanza (R-Staten Island).
Pessalona said that he was able to get all of his information because his adoptive parents had it. "Babies grow up to be adults," he said, "and we want to know our medical history and genealogy and heretige."
|Weprin and enthusiastic supporter|
It sounds like such a simple and basic right: Let the adopted know who they were before they were adopted, who they were when they were born, but it is taking a half century of countless time and effort and money to get there. First mother Joyce Bahr, addressed birth-parent privacy, the main reason our opponents give when they oppose this bill. She noted the right of the adoptee must trump the right of the birth parent or adoptive parent. Joyce is the founder of Unsealed Initiative, the group of first parents and adoptees advocating the release of original birth certificates to the adopted.
Zara Phillips, an adoptee singer/songwriter from England now an American citizen, said that while the United States was seen as a leader in many areas it was hard to understand how behind we could be on adoptee rights, noting that England opened its records to adoptees in 1975, and has done so without incident.
In my moments at the mike, I spoke of how first mothers do not make "new lives" without the children present in our life, and that most of us think of them all the time--but whether we do or not, any supposed right to privacy we have should not be the law of the land. What I was not able to do was read the names of the many out-of-state New York adoptees and birth mothers who contacted me last week in support of this bill. They have no real voice in the legislature because they have no elected representatives that they can go to and ask for their support and vote on this issue; yet as they were born and adopted in New York State the right to their identities--and for first mothers, the identities of their children--is tied up here. Although adoptions are declining in general, the practice of placing children with families in other states will exacerbate the lack of representation for the adopted in their state of birth.
NY ADOPTEES IN OTHER STATES DISENFRANCHISED
I am posting here the names of the adoptees and first mothers who left me their information who could not be there with us yesterday. A few are from New York, but the great majority live out of state. Weprin stated what we have said her again and again: legislators need emails and letters to let them know there is a crying need for this legislation. Everyone with a New York connection needs to contact the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and let him know this legislation must be passed, that the time for waiting is over. The email addresses are in the right sidebar. Please contact Weprin and thank him for being a tireless supporter of the Adoptee Rights Bill--he can bring hundreds of emails to the floor if he has them, but only if he has them--and Sheldon Silver needs to hear from you too, as he is the man who controls most of the legislation that gets passed in Albany. Then you need to send the same email to New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo.
There are only two weeks left in this session. Time is running out. The last day of this session is June 20. Let them hear from you NOW. If you do live in New York, please also contact your own assemblyman and legislator. Be heart-felt about why this legislation is important to you, be assertive, be brief. We do have opposition--surrogate court judges have gotten into the act opposing us for reasons of birth mother privacy; some legislators such as Helene Weinstein and Danny O'Donnell (Rosie's brother) will never vote for our bill. But the rights of the adopted to know their true identities must trump all other rights. No one should be denied their identity because it will embarrass someone, however deeply they have kept this secret. No adopted person should be denied the truth of their origins. It must be an inviolate right for all men if all men are truly to be free and equal.--lorraine
VIDEO OF THE EVENT AT CITY HALL, filmed by Victor Gamble
Out of state adoptees and birth mothers:
Erica Sohlstrom Varnell, Born in New York City, January 18, 1945, lives in Houston TX now.
Elizabeth Fiffie nee Boutell, Born in 1971 in Rochester, currently resides in Florida.
Mattie Vega Gorski: Born Mattie Lancaster, June 24, 1944 at City Hospital, Manhattan, N.Y. Then called Blackwell Island, Roosevelt Island, etc. Aug. 4th I was placed in the home of Jennie & Leopold Gorski. Adopted by them on Sept. 1949. I want the right to my original Birth Certificate, to find out my Mother's name, etc.
Patti Gallagher, Born 1959 in Rochester, currently lives in Burlington, VT
James Winter, Born 1955 in Middleton; resides in Deland, FL
Michael Potter, Born May 19th, 1970 in Albany, New York; in Portland currently.
Karen Virginia Brush Lenhard, b. in Buffalo NY 6-13-49, Resides in Denver, Colorado
Katherine F. Trumbaturi My name was Shirley Ann Alford, born in Queens NY April 4, 1944, lives in Satsuma, Fl
Arlene Vislocky. Born Female Cassidy, June 19, 1953 Unity Hospital, St. John’s Place, Brooklyn, New York; Adoption finalized in Nassau County, December 1953; lives in Boca Raton, FL
Joanne Pagnotta Currao; Born Tracey Elisabeth McCullough in 1964 in New York, NY, lives in West Chester, PA
Dorothy (Cornell) Conley; Born/adopted in Brooklyn in 1948, lives in Virginia
Jeni Gay Flock, Born she thinks, 1968, in Utica, resides in Atlanta
Lisa Hedlund Sampson, Born 1979 in NYC, now lives in Waterboro, Maine
Leigh Tyler nee Tadddeo, Born 1968 in the Bronx
Ed Grazioso, Born 1966, adopted in Brentwood
Mary Ann Krandis, Born 1968, New York Foundling Home, lives in Hudson, Florida
Kathy Johnson, born 1947 in Lackawanna, lives in Cambridge, Mass.
Sylvia Chechester Ackerson, Gave up a son in Albany, 1965, lives in NC
Keith Sciarillo, Birth name Stephan Spiegel, Born 1979 in Manhattan, lives in MD
Joseph Russell, Born 1918, Manhattan. History being searched by family
Linda Solomon, Born 1948, the Bronx, lives in Tucson
Gaye Tannenbaum, Born 1953 on Staten Island, now lives in Uraguay
Joan Dennan, Born 1956 in Queens, as Baby Girl Forest, lives in Delores, CO
Margie Pregent, Born 1964 in Syracuse, lives in Cleveland
Elizabeth Stern, Born 1982, in NYC, lives in West Orange, NJ
Mary Kathryn Stevenson, her daughter Julie was born 1967 in Buffalo, surrendered in Rochester
Dorothy Cornell Connelly, Born 1948 in Brooklyn, now lives in Virginia
Julie Larson, Born 1951 in NY, now lives in Greer, SC
Todd Hollister, Born in Manhattan in 1963, adopted in Nassau County the following year. Had my non-ID since 1997 and am still searching for both birth parents. Currently lives in NM
Nancy Hatch Annas, age 67Searching for Casey Ann, born in Rochester in 1968. Resides in Yarmouth, ME
Tracy Teza, Born Carol Mackey 1960 in Syracuse, lives in Florida
Elizabeth Steen/1982 relinquished in NYC, Lives West Orange, NJ
Searching for father, adopted, AS FAR AS I KNOW, DAD WAS BORN JAN. 24 1903 TO UP TO 1910 I SO NEED TO KNOW, WHERE AND WHEN HE WAS BORN IT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME TO FIND OUT. KENYON RICHARD BENNETT (MY DAD)MINE IS: KATHRYN A BENNETT
Andrea Lang-Lubovich, Baby Mary Lynn (or Marylynn) Born at OLV Infant Home on Monday, 04 September 1967, lives Tampa Bay, FL
Sheldon La Vern Barber, born in 1944 in Buffalo, lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
Lynn Sheer, surrendered a son, Mark David Sheer in Buffalo in 1968; presently lives in Chloe, WV
Julie Hastings Schneider , Born 1960 in Elmira, NY; currently lives in Charleston, SC
Mary Beth ( Howenstein) Knoblauch, born 1960 in Schenectady , NY., now resides in in Oak Island, NC
Joanne Denner, Born 2/19/56 as Baby girl Forrest in Queens NY, now lives in Dolores Colorado
Diane Howell Bianchi, Born 1974, Middletown, NY (Orange County), lives in West Palm Beach, FL
Renee Ast, give birth to son in 2011, now lives in FL Anne Winslow (born Lily Marlene Tinga). Born on 2/8/63 in Manhattan, NY (St. Vincent's), now lives in Lancaster, PA until I finish school, and then will return to Baltimore, MD
Ed Gunsalus, born in Albany NY, 1956, Adopted 33 days after I was born, currently resides in Dallas, Texas. I so hope this passes this session. My birth mother would be 84 years old if she's still alive.
Carol Warner Burdick, Born in Town of Union, Johnson City, NY @Springer Hospital on 12/14/48 Home for unwed mothers. Please open records...we have rights too
Judith Scanlon (birth name Cecelia Jones) DOB 10-01-1956, Binghamton, Now living in Orleans, MA. I lived in MA for 40 years and could have had my OBC years ago if I had been born in MA, but I lack the same rights as my fellow MA-born adult adopted citizens because I was born in NY State.
Elizabeth Ann Hamlin (nee Shrout) Born March 11, 1968 in Buffalo, adopted thru Lutheran Service Society, Now living in Covington Ohio THANK YOU!!!!
Mitchel Weinberger (birth surname Katz) DOB 12/12/1956, Brooklyn, Now living in Seattle, WA
Debra Glaser, born Mary Geoffrey, DOB: 2/13/1954 Union, Broome County
Scott Paul Overmyer (John Phillip Adams) Born: 3/31/1952, Union, NY (Springer Hospital), currently living in Astana, Kazakhstan & Toronto, SD
Jessica Tagliferro, Born in NYC in 1972, now residing in Fairfield Co. CT. I support open birth records.
Ruth Hochberg Salsman, born in New York, 1965, now lives in PA.