The average legislator likely knows nothing about adopt reform. Ask him what he thinks about adoption and he's likely to say "It's unfair to mothers who were promised confidentiality to open records. Adoption needs to be easier and quicker so that deserving couples can get babies."
We can argue with legislators all day but the truth is that if facts and logic carried the day, records would have been opened years ago and laws restricting the rights of natural parents never would have been passed. To achieve reform, we need to create legislators who understand the importance of opening records, giving mothers time and information to decide, granting rights to unmarried fathers.
FIND CANDIDATES WHO WILL LISTEN
Success in the political arena involves networking and building alliances. Ask folks who haves run for office or worked on a campaign for help in selecting, grooming, and electing candidates. Scour the list of candidates, probably on your state or county elections office website. Ask people you trust what they know about the candidates. Google candidates to find media reports and other information about them. Look at their websites. Keep in mind that party affiliation means nothing when it comes to adoption reform.
You may be able to find candidates who were adopted or who are first parents through media accounts. The adoptee/first parent status doesn't guarantee that a candidate will be supportive, though. Stay away from candidates who work in the adoption industry. If you know a candidate is aligned with the adoption industry, work for his opponent.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!
Once you've selected possible candidates, contact their campaign offices. Make an appointment to speak to the candidate or their policy person or to talk to them on the phone. Remember the KISS principle--Keep It Simple Stupid. Imagine you're riding up an elevator with a candidate and have only the time between the first and tenth floors to make your pitch. Speak calmly and suggest that you're only advocating a few small changes, nothing radical, you just want adoption to be about benefiting children.
If a candidate looks promising, offer to volunteer on the campaign and recruit other volunteers. Candidates depend heavily on volunteers to make telephone calls conducting polls and promoting the candidate; pass out literature door-to-door, update mailing lists, and so on. Always connect your support with your cause. When you show up at a phone bank, tell the person in charge, your name and the organization you're affiliated with and that you appreciate the candidate's interest in adoption reform.
MONEY: THE MOTHER'S MILK OF POLITICS
Most important according to my daughter: Raise money for your candidate. You can't write million dollar checks like Las Vegas casino owner Sherman Adelson or television personality Oprah Winfrey but you can pull together enough money to make an impression. Collect ten dollar checks from ten friends and hand them to the candidate or her staff person and tell them these funds are from supporters of adoptee rights. Bundling money is more effective than individual contributions. Host a coffee/breakfast/wine and cheese soiree for the candidate. Invite your friends and relatives and make a pitch for funds or allow the candidate to make a pitch. I know from my own experience that it can be uncomfortable hitting up folks for money but if your nearest and dearest won't support your candidate, who will?
|Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, Assb.David Weprin, Carol Schaefer, Lorraine|
Lorraine Here: We of Unsealed Initiative in New York are collecting money RIGHT NOW for the staunch sponsor of the bill in the Assembly to unseal original birth certificates, David Weprin (D, Queens). We do bundle the checks together and they are presented to him as from Unsealed Initiative, the group he knows is working for unsealing the birth certificates of adoptees. As Jane says here, even small checks from many people make an impression. Make checks payable to Friends of David Weprin and send to Carole Whitehead, 37 Sylvia Lane, Plainview, NY 11803. No check is too small (remember, numbers count)--or too much! We've been aiming for $500 a year from UI, and it's always a stretch so even a small check is a way of saying thank you, keep working for us. Again, checks should be made out to Friends of David Weprin.
Please include a note if you are not a member of UI already that you read about this at First Mother Forum. We need the checks by May 2nd in order to give them to him in a bundle at an annual birthday party/fund raiser. That's him above, with Sen. Velamnette Montgomery (D, Brooklyn) at a press conference about the bill this summer at City Hall.
ALSO ON POLITICKING FROM FMF:
Gays have political clout; bastards don't. Lessons from New Jersey and New York
Lobbying for adoptee rights--how to write to a legislator
Why should adoptees' original birth certificates be unsealed? A first mother's perspective
A Conversation about Open Records for Adopted People
Memo to Gov. Cuomo: Repeal the 1935 law sealing original birth certificates
Politics For Dummies
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