' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Indiana passes compromise OBC bill; MO in the wings

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Indiana passes compromise OBC bill; MO in the wings

A Simple Piece of ORIGINAL Paper denied the adopted
Try as we might, clean bills with first birth parent vetoes are what states are taking up as a compromise between allowing adopted individuals the right to their own birth certificates and "protecting" (that damn word!) the privacy of birth parents from the dark ages of closed adoptions. That would include Jane and me. 

Indiana yesterday passed such a bill that now only awaits Gov. Mike Pence's signature, which is a expected, as he worked with Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, according to Pam Kroskie, president. "Today marks a tremendous victory for hundreds of thousands of people adopted in Indiana," she said, "...regardless of the year they were born. The bill covers people who were adopted from 1941 through 1993, the group that was left out of previous legislation and had no access to their original records. 

A VETO BY ANY NAME IS A VETO
Lorraine 
Yes, it has a opt-out veto for birth parents--natural mothers almost entirely, as most fathers won't be on the birth certificate.  Those whose names are on the original birth certificate will have to take the initiative and file a paper to halt the release of information, and not surprisingly some find this distressing because, as adoption attorney Steve Kirsh told the INDY Star, "There is risk of harm to others [that is, mothers] who aren't going to know about the need to protect themselves." They will have until July 1, 2018 to "protect themselves" by signing what is being called a "contact preference form" but as we noted, since it denies the release of the names on the OBC...a veto to the release of information it is. If the bill is signed, the law will be into effect in July 2018.  

The same kind of veto (or permission to redact one's name) has been attached to a previously good, clean bill in Missouri. A clean bill with nearly 50 sponsors passed the Missouri House Children and Families Committee earlier this month. But Catholic Charities and Lutheran Family and Children's Services were able to muster passage of different bill, with redaction and disclosure vetoes, by the same committee. Due to the way the process works in Indiana, both bills were combined into a new bill on Feb. 18th and will now go to the floor for a full vote. There is no further opportunity for more hearings. The vote will be up or down. 

BUT WAIT! 'REDACTION' ONLY MEANS THE MOTHER'S NAME
However--and this is an important however--if a mother asks for her name to be redacted, the adoptee still gets the birth certificate with everything on it except her name. That means his original name will be on the document that he gets from the state. Only if there is a father listed, and that father also asks for redaction, will be OBC be denied. Thus this will affect a minuscule number of people--if any. 

We don't know whether to cheer or cry. On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of people in Indiana, and possibly Missouri, will be able to access their full, accurate, unamended birth certificates. New Jersey's law, after decades of work, ended up with the same kind of veto and will go into effect into 2017; those on the birth certificates have until then to file a veto, and Catholic Charities is acting as if the sky is going to fall when women will not be able to file their redactions and stay in the closet.  (Or are they protecting the priests who might have fathered children, as their reunited mothers will tell? Just asking.) No matter what, disclosure vetoes affect very few people, as very few birth mothers file them.

As the American Adoption Congress has shown, as of 2015, fewer than 600 women requested "no contact" in the six states that opened their records since 2000, out of nearly 800,000 sealed birth certificates in those states. That is .0007, or seven-one hundredths of 1 percent! In essence, only 1 of out of every 1,429 mothers named on sealed birth certificates in those states have requested no contact. In those six states approximately 30,000 people to date have asked for their original birth certificates, and the number continues to grow. How many received a no-contact request is unknown. 

LEGISLATORS ARE STUCK IN THE PAST
But. A no-contact request is disappointing, disheartening, hurtful, but not at bottom, unjust. It announces a preference, but it does not strip the right to know one's identity. I've written about this a great many times over the decades, and so I'm going to quote here from Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption:
"There is nothing fair about these vetoes. They give the individual who wishes to remain anonymous the right to deprive another knowledge about one’s being that the rest of us enjoy without asking and have always taken for granted. For those of us who know who we are—who have known since the age of reason—the enormity of this blank wall in the mental makeup of another individual is impossible to fully grasp. You were raised Jewish but maybe you were supposed to be Episcopalian. You were raised in a hot-blooded Italian family but you’re cool and less excitable. You are something else. Your mother is a poet but all you care about is politics. 
These vetoes are becoming the path states are mistakenly taking as they move to unseal birth records of the adopted. Reflecting the zeitgeist of an earlier era when an out-of-wedlock birth was the cause of great scandal, these half-way measures today are chauvinistic holdovers of that time. Legislators who enact them insist they are protecting these scandalous women from—whom? Their own children. 
But the laws that sealed birth certificates were never designed to give mothers anonymity. The goal was quite the opposite: The laws were written to shield the adoptive family from the natural mother’s interference.[1] It was presumed that she would want to know what happened to her child, and adoptive parents did not want her intruding.
Despite how desperate a woman may have been to keep her baby’s birth a secret at the time, today that assumption has been subverted to allow her to hide from that child, and thus prevent his ever knowing his real identity. In effect, the state has set up a system that allows this type of identity theft, issues him fake ID papers, and offers no recourse. These new laws are not fair and equitable. These laws make a mockery of justice for all.
Adopted individuals were never asked if stripping away their identities and histories was their choice, or in their best interests. These infants and children grow up into adults with all the rights and obligations of the rest of us, yet—due to a contract made by others—they are denied basic facts about themselves. Sealed birth records of any kind, with any restrictions that apply to the person whose record it is, codify the same kind of appalling thinking that allowed slavery to flourish in centuries past. 
Other than slavery, there is no instance in which a contract made among adults over another individual binds him once he becomes an adult. It takes from him full autonomy as a free person; it makes him subject to the whims and preferences of another, and it does so indefinitely and for all time. Anything other than full autonomy—which surely includes the right to know who one was at birth—is wrong morally, wrong legally, wrong anyway it can be interpreted. 
Courts in the past have held[2]—and unquestionably courts in the future will find—that the mother has no constitutional right to remain anonymous from her child, and thus the state has no obligation to keep her identity secret from her offspring. 
While these veto-burdened laws perpetuate a great injustice, they do this in the name of the very few. In free states where adopted individuals may obtain their original, intact birth certificates, mothers not wishing to be contacted may file such a preference with the state, and this is passed on should their adult children request their original birth certificates.
Some may see a mother’s right to anonymity as a twisted extension of her “right to choose.” But surely that right ends with her, and does not extend to future generations. Only in a Kafkaesque hell would someone grant anyone the right to erase the past history of another and sentence him to a state of genetic ignorance. Yet that is precisely what sealed records, and those laws that allow a mother’s veto, do. 
It is not a hidden mass of natural mothers demanding such a twisted interpretation of fairness when states attempt to correct the wrongs of the past. Instead it is legislators listening to the ghosts of the past. It is adoption agencies and their agents, adoption attorneys—even search companies—who perpetuate the image of the vulnerable, fearful woman at the time of her greatest anguish, and place her in the present now, needing protection from her own flesh and blood. But she is a straw woman created by an industry fearful of change and of being discovered to have been wrong all these years.
The right to know one’s heritage should be a given, not something to be asked for as a favor. It should—in a free society, it must—belong to all individuals by the very act of being born."
In New York, the effort to push for clean legislation has been stalled again and again by a single woman--Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Democrat of Brooklyn. In all other respects, she is quite liberal. I have come to believe that she is hiding someone--either herself or a friend--who wishes to remain anonymous from her child. Knowing how other mothers in the closet and fathers fearful of disclosure have reacted, this is the only explanation I can come up with for Weinstein's inexplicable and unyielding denial of rights.--lorraine


[1] Samuels, “Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform,” Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, 2013, Vol 20: 1, pp. 32-81.

HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDMENT NO. 1

TO READ
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption

Hole In My Heart is the kind of book you have to read in one go. When I did, over a weekend not long ago, I found myself transported back in time. For while Hole In My Heart is an incredibly personal story of one woman's pregnancy and the loss of her child to adoption, it is also the story of every woman of that time who longed for more than the mainstream thought we should have.

Reading Hole In My Heart feels like having a cup of coffee with Lorraine while she recounts painful experiences that would bring the strongest person to their knees. And yet in spite of overwhelming loss and betrayal, both held deep in her heart while she fought the workplace and family battles that make up the stuff of women's lives, Lorraine retained humor (love her dry sarcasm, delivered at the most appropriate times) and an amazing ability to pick herself up and keep going. I do not say "move on," because Lorraine most definitely didn't do that. She took stock of where the world was at in relationship to adoptees and first parents, strapped on her sword and fought a very good fight for justice on their behalf.

I appreciate the factual and historical information about adoption policy, law and the fight for open birth records - very important information for anyone interested or working in adoption reform. But mostly I appreciate the way in which Lorraine shared her experience: without varnish or apology. This makes Hole In My Heart much more than an adoption book. It's a book about all women, really, and the strength with which we survive, thrive and do good work in spite of the challenges and pain we face."--Margie Perscheid (Third Mom blogger) at Goodreads

137 comments :



  1. It's the big money of adoption protecting it's interest...MONEY.
    I don't think the give a dam about adoptees or natural moms. Or protecting some unknown woman from being exposed to all.

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  2. Some idiot legislator will always tell the story of a cousin's neighbors's sister's sister-in-law who is afraid to be found. And somehow it becomes more important to "protect" her, who was never promised to be kept anonymous, than to go with the wishes of hundreds of birthmothers and adoptees. Makes me absolutely furious! When CT first worked on searches in the early 80s, it was birthmothers and agencies who worked on the proposal -- and still we couldn't get it passed.

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    1. First mothers and adoptees have been working in New York for decades to no avail. I something think New York will be the last state standing with sealed OBCs. Fortunately more people born in the 5 boroughs of New York can figure out what is on their original birth certificates by pouring over OBCs in the Genealogical Room of the New York City Public Library, Main Branch.

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    2. No adoptee can "pour over OBC's at the NY Public Library. All they can do is look at a tedious alphabetical listing of babies born in the five boroughs. That was very misleading.

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  3. I sure appreciate that you, Lorraine, always fight the good fight for 100% access. Missouri will also continue to fight for 100%. I'm just sorry to say it does not look like that's a possibility this year thanks to the folks at bastard nation who decided it was ok to go around those who are actually working face to face and building relationships with legislators. We had a clean bill and we were doing well with educational efforts to keep the blocker bill from getting mixed up with the clean bill. That is, until Bastard Nation went around us and put out a call to action that caused so much chaos by turning it into a pissing contest between the two bills. When will they learn that making demands of legislators does not generate progress? It only adds turmoil. Why would they not take the lead from the organization that was making real progress with a CLEAN bill? Instead they went and mucked things up, as always, and left us holding the doodie bag. Now that our ADOPTEE sponsor, Representative Don Phillips, and FIRST MOTHER lobbyist, Annette Driver, saved the bill from total destruction ….Bastard Nation is calling legislators and telling them to kill the bill. How many more adoptees have to die without information before Bastard Nation will be happy?

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    1. Heather--As you know I totally get where you and everyone is coming from, and I left MO under the radar as you asked a while ago, exactly for the reasons you state.

      The truth is, a compromise bill anywhere lets HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ADOPTEES GET THEIR RECORDS, and sometimes, compromise is necessary to move forward. People tend to ignore that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves--in the "rebellious states"--and not in the North or the loyal border states either. It was a halfway measure that came before all slaves were free men.

      I included that section about from H♥le hoping that it reaches some on-the-fence legislator to think through what the redactions and disclosure do, and how they suddenly put all the power in the hands of the mother. It is an unequal imbalance of power.

      As for compromise, Florence Fisher was asked in New York to go along with a prospective bill--from that day forward--in the late Seventies. She refused, thought the way forward was through the Supreme Court, where we did not get a full hearing. Thus 19 years later, when all those adoptees born from that day in the Seventies would have been able to get their original unamended birth certificates, she couldn't help think, what if....

      Can we first mothers from here help get your bill through?

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    2. Thank you Lorraine, Please just keep doing what you have been doing. Educating as many people as possible. Part of our success was due to 13 first mother testifying on our behalf last spring with the same committee. When legislators see how many mothers are in support, everyone wins. Thank you again for your years of dedication to education and legislation in the adoption community.

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    3. Heahter, would you care to explain why your organization is led by non-adoptees but passed off as an adoptee rights organization?

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    4. The Indiana bill despite Ms. Kroskie's claims does not realease the OBC. It simply takes information from the OBC and sends it to the adoptee-unless of couse, the adoptee isn't allowed to have it. The Missouri bil does more than remove the mother's name from the cert. The bill reads "all identifying information" and that information is not defined in the bill.

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    5. Actually, the Missouri bill reads “7. If both birth parents indicate on the contact preference form that they would prefer not to be contacted, a copy of the original birth certificate of the adopted person shall not be released until proof is provided that both birth parents are deceased. If only one birth parent indicates on the contact preference form that he or she would prefer not to be contacted, his or her identifying information shall be redacted from a copy of the original birth certificate of the adopted person and the copy of the original birth certificate shall be released under the provisions of this section. Upon proof that a birth parent who indicated on the contact preference form that he or she preferred not to be contacted is deceased, an unaltered copy of the original birth certificate of the adopted person shall be released under the provisions of this section.”

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    6. Angelina and Sarah Grimke were outspoken abolitionists--lectured, wrote stirring phamplets, traveled around preaching--and were a major figures of the times. Neither of course was a slave. They were white sisters who came from a South Carolina slave-holding family.

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    7. Missouri Adoptee Rights Leadership currently consists of 20 people and 12 of them are Adoptees. The organization was founded by me in 2010 in honor of my Mother and her sisters who were adopted.
      While other groups parade around and make claims to progress, Missouri Adoptee Rights is the only organization that has successfully gotten a clean bill introduced and past committee in Missouri. As it stands, over 99% of Missouri born adoptees will get access to their birth certificate in 2017 and the 1% who are affected by redaction will be able to access their unaltered birth certificate when that parent is deceased.

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    8. You are correct, I cannot say with certainty; however, I can give a best estimate based on the published national statistics. The percentage of birth parents requesting no contact in 7 states was actually less than 1/2 of 1%. Considering that an estimated .95% of people die every year, we would be leaving behind more people by not passing HB 1599.

      As for the burden of proof, the biological parent will need to identify themselves at the time they fill out the contact preference form. This will provide the department of vital statistics with current information on that parent so that they will be able to check with SSDI or other vital records when the adopted person makes a request. Those who don't fully understand the Missouri system can be confused by conflicting information from multiple parties. Our legislators have been very wise to step back and sort through the facts vs. fiction.

      For the record, MARM is not cutting deals. Only working to get the most we possibly can for adopted adults this year. It won't end this year...we have an established presence that will continue to work on positive progress in MO.

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    9. Heather, the bill does not make it clear what, exactly, can be redacted. If the CI or the bureaucrat doing the redacting thinks that the adoptee's birth name is also identifying, or the hospital, or the place, that can be redacted. That is not equality. Redaction rates vary by state, too. It is not uniformly 1/2 of 1% in the states with restrictions. We cannot say what the rate would be in Missouri. I still hold that anyone left behind is a person too many. Honestly, I want my OBC, but if I could get it at the expense of others, it is not worth the price. I stand for all my adoptee community, and I am sad that some of my community would be willing to push me aside.

      Yes. People die. They die every day. People of all ages. Adopted and not adopted. I am unmoved as much as you want me to "save adoptee lives." The number you cited is the crude death rate for Missouri in 2013, and includes EVERYONE who died in Missouri. The percentage includes people who died of old age, fetal demise, cancer, motorcycle accidents, myocardial infarction: everything. ALL Missouri residents, that is 950.3 of every 100,000 Missourians. It does not select for adoptees or genetic disease, or anything you may want to have been suggesting. It is easy to throw stats and numbers around, but you have to know what they mean. Remember: lies, damn lies, and statistics?

      And as far as a medical registry for those left behind: medical histories/conditions change. The medical history in my file at the time of my birth was not static. Nor was the information my mother gave to the CI in lieu of contact anywhere near complete. She forgot things; did not think to mention conditions of other relatives, etc. A sheet of medical history summary is a bad compromise and will still leave adoptees to "die," if that is your concern.

      OBCs are a vital record. You have yours. You have a privilege that I do not. Please do not tell me to wait and maybe one day I will get what you have. The best thing we can do is refuse to confuse reunion and medical history with OBCs and instead to see OBC access as an issue of rights. When people make it into a battle of competing stories: "I want reunion," "I want medical history," then it is equally valid to grant mothers "I want privacy." Such an attempt to "balance needs" is all so unnecessary! Adoptees deserve their OBCs, no restrictions, no conditions, as adults. Fighting for rights for some at the expense of others is truly unjust.

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    10. Have you read the bill? Because the bill does make it clear that the parent can have their own identifying information removed. Missouri Law defines Identifying Information as "Identifying information", information which includes the name, date of birth, place of birth and last known address of the biological parent;”
      Second… When talking about the death rate, we are not talking about the birth certificate saving lives by providing medical information. You said… “The number you cited is the crude death rate for Missouri in 2013, and includes EVERYONE who died in Missouri.” So how is it that you did not see my point? 1% of everyone dies every year. If you are a part of killing HB1599 then you are a part of denying 1% of the adoptee population access to their birth certificate for every year that you drag this out waiting for perfect legislation. They will never see it because they will be dead before you see perfect legislation. By moving this legislation forward, we can include that 1% and still move forward with new legislation in the future for anyone who gets their birth certificate with a redacted parent name.
      Legislation is always changing. If you don’t believe that, look at the Colorado law. It took them a few years but now all adoptees have access. So don’t try to tell me that you can’t go back and change it. Laws changed in 2011 in Missouri and we are about to change them again.
      What this bill does for Medical is it provides the parent and the adopted person one central location where they can share information. My friend Linda has stage 4 bone cancer. She wants to put medical information in her daughter’s file but she has not been told what county her daughter’s adoption was finalized in. In fact, most first parents do not know where the adoption was finalized. This bill would allow her (and all of them) to place that information with the birth certificate instead.
      Yes, I have my birth certificate. My mother does not. I’m really glad you are not leading the charge in Missouri because if we do things your way, my mother would die before she gets to see her birth certificate.
      And if you really want to lecture me about how having that birth certificate is more important than the opportunity to get medical information from family…..the fact that I found my mother’s family, after 13 years of search, saved my life. My mom’s oldest sister told me to get tested for a medical condition that my doctor didn’t think to consider at the time. So while you are fighting for 100% of what you want right now, rather than working with us on Progressive legislation, I will continue fighting to help as many people as I can as quickly as I can and you can bet your bottom dollar I will be back working on more progressive legislation for years to come.

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  4. Actually, Weinstein is a Dem of Brooklyn, not Queens. Otherwise, thank you for this blogpost and your advocacy/support!!

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    1. Kym--I was in slight doubt about that last night and tired so I didn't check. I fixed the post and thank you. Now I will never forget where the enemy resides.

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  5. Hi Lo~ You are quite correct that birth parent vetoes of any kind are discriminatory and infringe on the inherent human rights of another individual. Whether or not a birth mother will be "harmed" by the release of her identity is beside the point: One should not have the right to give birth to a child and then be empowered to deny that child rights which should be guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Providing a specialized privacy benefit to birth parents in exchange for their relinquishment of a child constitutes human trafficking - plain and simple. Exploiting the child's vulnerability by permanently removing their right to access their complete, unredacted birth certificate completes the 3rd prong of human trafficking. What legislators are doing is codifying trafficking of children into law via adoption statute. It's time adoption reform proponents start bringing this to the attention of the public.

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    2. Hi Kaisa Gwendolyn~ The United Nations defines the 3 elements of human trafficking: 1) conveyance of a human being without their consent or their knowledge 2) The provider/conveyer benefits from the transaction in some way 3) The individual being provided at the behest of another is exploited due to their vulnerability. Many people say that adoption is for the benefit of the child. If that were true, then all elements of the adoption would be for the benefit of the adoptee, and the adoptee would not suffer lifelong discrimination should s/he wish to have access to their identity, and the identity of their birth parent(s). Ethicists note that birth is an event which jointly impacts the participants: the person giving birth, and the person born. Thus the rights to the information about the event belong equally to each participant. Neither should be able to rescind the other's access to that information, including who attended the event.

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  6. I would also add that it defies reason that birth parents preferences continue to hold sway over adopted people once they have signed relinquishment papers. I've read relinquishment papers- BPs clearly renounce ALL claims to the adoptee. They have left our lives and renounced all responsibilities, yet still are allowed to hold the keys to our kingdom? Completely illogical.

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    1. No, BPs do not renounce all claims to the adoptee. Birth is not a "claim." Rather, it is an event, a process of life-giving, entry into the world,and entry into a specific family, and it "always" involves( at least) 3 people...the mother, the father and the child, although the father does not have to be present during pregnancy or birth(and many are not). Birth/first/natural relatives remain related to each other even if they never see each other again. Relinquishment papers do not change that bio-relatedness one bit.
      Birth/first parents do not renounce birth. They might relinquish the child. They might relinquish parental rights. But they cannot "unbirth" the child.
      So, what kingdom are you referring to? Is it your biological identity? That will not change, no matter what name you are given, or take for yourself. That is part of your "relatedness" to your bio-family. The adoptive kingdom? That never belonged to birth parents. It is part of you, though.

      If you want your birth/first mother's name, that is her identity and no one is fooled about your wanting that, and where it can be found. It is probably on the OBC and a number of standardized court documents and agency forms....which I am sure you know.
      As far as illogical reasoning goes, adoption is filled with examples of illogical thinking. One of the craziest is the idea that issuing an amended birth certificate, with the adoptive parents listed as if they gave birth to the adoptee, will create the illusion of "unbirthing" or "rebirthing" the individual named therein. And sweeping the child clean of the original family....which is, of course, impossible.

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    2. And in some cases...the date of birth on the amended has been known to be changed, along with city of birth. I came across this in Georgia.

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    3. Theresa, it is not birth parents who are put these restrictions into the bills.
      It is our government at work. Over and over you will hear mothers say "we were never promised confidentiality"

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    5. Amended birth certificates almost always contain all the information of the original birth certificate except the name of the parents. To my knowledge the only time a date of birth is changed is when there is strong evidence that the original birth certificate was incorrect. This happens most often with foreign adoptions when foreign officials falsify the date of birth to make the child appear younger than he is in order to make him more attractive to PAPs

      If the adoptive parents present medical and dental evidence of the child's likely age, and the courts will order Vital Stats to adjust the date of birth.

      I haven't heard of courts changing the place of birth. When it happens it would be because there is strong evidence that the original birth certificate was wrong.

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    6. I have heard of agencies, maternity homes, and hospitals putting incorrect data on OBCs. Sometimes mothers were instructed to use false names. This would sometimes(but not always) affect the birth name of the child.

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    7. The way the system works is that a hospital employee fills out on a state vital stats from time and date and place of birth, etc. and the doctor who delivered the baby signs it. Then the employee asks the mother for the baby's name and the father's name if the mother is married. These are entered on the form. I've heard that where the baby is slated for adoption, mothers are not asked for information. The form is sent to vital stats which prepares the birth certificate, basically putting a seal on the form.

      A hospital and doctor could falsify information but not maternity homes (unless they ran delivery centers) and agencies.

      There have been cases where doctors did black market adoptions. They delivered babies and put the PAPs names on the forms or prepared no forms. Later the adoptive parents went to court a got a birth certificate based on whatever information they had.

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    8. Jane,
      the maternity home of which I speak, which instructed mothers, and sometimes fathers if they were present,that they could use false names on OBCs, did have their own delivery center. Mothers delivered right in the home, on another floor.
      I also know of mothers who were told by social workers to use a false name when they gave birth in the hospital,but no reason was given for their doing this. The mother was told to sign her own legal name on the OBC, though, so mother and child would have different names on the OBC and in whatever records might be kept.
      I also have heard about the black market adoptions where the PAPs name was placed on the OBC with the result being that there was no OBC with the birth/first mother's name recorded on the OBC.

      Then there were all of the babies who "died" and were "reborn" as another person. The birth/first mother was told her child has died, and the hospital or doctor tells her that her child will be prepared for cremation or burial and she has nothing more to do. End of story, until years later when the "living dead child" finds her. This actually happened with a relative in my own family.
      With all of the missing data, different names,conflicting information, it makes one wonder how much is truly recorded at all.
      But, still we have a right to our documents, true or not.

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    9. There are countless cases here in Texas where the DOB and County of Birth were changed. Not currently (I hope) yet it is still not illegal to change either of those on amended birth certificates.

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    10. If OBCs were changed, it had to be the work of corrupt judges or Vital Stats officials or both.

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    11. Jane, you'd be surprised how often the Vital Records Statutes state the place of birth can be changed.

      (410 ILCS 535/17) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 73-17)
      (2) When a new certificate of birth is established, the actual place and date of birth shall be shown; provided, in the case of adoption of a person born in this State by parents who were residents of this State at the time of the birth of the adopted person, the place of birth may be shown as the place of residence of the adoptive parents at the time of such person's birth, if specifically requested by them, and any new certificate of birth established prior to the effective date of this amendatory Act may be corrected accordingly if so requested by the adoptive parents or the adopted person when of legal age.

      http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1573&ChapAct=4

      I have seen the birthdate may be changed based on the judges direction in the adoption order - can't remember the state.

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    12. I've met adoptees with OBCs amended beyond credulity. It is a sham; I hope they are no longer doing it but I wouldn't be surprised if they are somewhere.

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  7. Catholic Clergy is the devilFebruary 25, 2016 at 11:32 AM

    Oh good ole Catholic Charities and Catholic Clergy, they way they act concerning us getting our OBC's it is obvious they worship that pedophile bitch Georgia Tann not Jesus Christ. What did He say? the first will be the last and the last will be the first meaning Christ loves the sinners (all a single mother has to do is say I'm sorry and all is well) that repent and hates those who punish rather than forgive them. One of the greatest punishments on earth is forced adoption and closed records. I can't wait until all our oppressors are rotting in hell because they are the last people to ever get into heaven. I only hope when they do what they have put us through looks like a picnic compared to what they are going to feel forever(and it will). Not letting us have the history of our ancestors and know who is in our bloodline that God chose for us is one of the biggest sins happening on earth. As far as the Constitution is concerned Lorraine you are right, no woman has a right to hide who she is from her child (and 99 percent of first mothers have never wanted that) and just stating that a woman has a right to that bogus anonymity interferes with the adoptees right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So essentially closed adoption in total violation of the Constitution and no state ever had aright to make any law that violates any part of the Constitution.

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  8. Marley Greiner, I think your question to Heathaer is ridiculous concerning the fact that
    (a. these women are trying to pass clean bills which will benefit all adoptees and (b. Bastard Nation seems to have adoptees who fight left and right and can't agree due to some with Kool-Aid mentality. Furthermore BN refused to protest yearly with other adoptees and has not done much in the way of getting any records opened lately. Hell, an adoptive parent did more than all of you did(in New Hampshire). First mothers do want us to have our rights much more than the Sherrie Eldridge loonies out there so I truly think you should hold your tongue.

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    1. Well said Lee. We're all fighting for clean bills, and shouldn't be fighting each other. We all want the same things! Heather's group is not going to give up until that bill is passed in a squeaky clean state! A former State Rep and good friend of mine said the best way to accomplish this is (and you have to start somewhere!), get the best bill passed you can (even if requires some compromise), but keep coming back to amend it until it is passed with the desired form and language! Laws get changed and amended all the time with sections added, changed or deleted. You keep your eyes on the prize, and never give up. Neither will Heather's Missouri group!

      Delete
    2. Well said, Frances Shipley. Look at the progress that has been made in OH and it is still not a completely open state but they are celebrating the release of the OBCs--as they should! Betsie Norris and her group deserve the credit for continuing to make progress there.

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    3. Lee ,you're not making any sense. We fight for rights, not reunions. We do what we say we will, We don't leave people behind. Why don't deformers get out of the way and let the people who have won continue to win. If all you want is your mommies, then be honest and say so. So glad you folks weren't around for woman suffrage

      Delete
    4. Marley, Really? People who have won? You don't leave people behind? Why do you think MARM exists? What have you done for Missouri? I have seen Zero progress in Missouri since I learned of your organizations existence. Sorry if we got tired of waiting around for your empty promises of Equality for all. So far, you have done nothing but leave Missouri in the dust. We reached out to you 7 years ago and got left behind. Frankly, I'm glad that you did nothing now that I see the way you really conduct yourself. So you just go ahead beating on your chest and making a mockery of the adoption community. I'm proud of the good things we are accomplishing in Missouri and so is my adopted mother. Go fix things in your own state. All you've done for Missouri is Embarrass the adoption community.

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  9. I don't agree that the only reason adoptees want their obc is to get there mother's name. I know my mother's name. I've known it for twenty years. We had a long and sometimes difficult reunion and relationship. I loved her with all my heart. She took her own life two years ago. I think about her everyday. I want my obc because it is mine. It states the truth in the facts of my birth. I don't understand how I can't have it. Nothing on it is a secret for anyone.

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    Replies
    1. Ann, I am sorry that your mother took her life.

      Of course, an OBC is important.Have you seen your OBC? I ask this only because I have heard, from many adoptees that their OBC "states the truth." But, even OBCs are not always accurate and this is true even for the non-adopted population.
      Government documents cannot be relied upon to state the truth, and since you have experience in adoption reunion I wouldn't be surprised if you have heard about falsified OBCs before. However, I still agree that we should all have a right to our documents....whether they are accurate or not.

      Delete
    2. I agree with Ann, I received my entire court file. I still wanted my Original Birth Certificate, the ONE filled out at the time of my birth, I requested it and received it under the court order. Mine is correct as I knew the doctor who verified that it was fact when he signed his name on the line.

      The OBC belongs to the one born, no one else Balsam, especially, not a mother who surrendered her rights to the person the OBC belongs too. I'll leave you with the final notation in my court surrender document that clearly renounces any and all claims the mother may have to the child (sans identifying info)...

      IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the said child, Baby Girl xxxx, be and it hereby is, made a ward of the xxxx County Juvenile Court, permanently removed from the care, custody and control of said mother, Miss xxxx xxxx, xxxx South x, xxxx, xxxx, and said mother, Miss xxxx xxxx, be and she hereby is, permanently deprived of any and all rights to said child, said child is hereby placed in the care, custody and control of Mrs. xxxx xxxx, Chief Probation Officer, xxxx County Juvenile Court, with authorization to consent to the adoption of said child by such person or person as may be approved by the Superior Court of the State of xxxx.

      Delete
  10. Um, the first ammendment doesn't guarantee "the right to seek and receive information and ideas."

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cindy, care to elaborate on what the First Amendment does and does not guarantee? Because freedom of speech includes the right to seek, receive, and impart ideas in any media regardless of frontiers.

    I will go further to state that not only is the redaction or denial of OBC's a denial of an adoptee's freedom of speech, any act preventing OBC access to an adoptee, by the state or by an individual, is an act of Defamation and injury upon adoptees, as it classifies adoptees as unfit or unhealthy, incapable to have such information, whereas others have this information freely. As if by default an adoptee's knowing their origins is somehow a danger to a parent.

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    Replies
    1. I think it was ALMA that argued that adoptees were treated as a "suspect class" back in the 70s or 80s. They lost their cases back then, but maybe you could try it again.
      Progress has been made since then.

      Delete
    2. I agree. The court might well look at adoptee rights very differently than the New York court did in 1979 when the ALMA case was brought.

      Courts have been known to change positions as societal values change. Thirty years ago litigation allowing gay marriage was a non-starter.

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    3. There are instances where knowing the information could be a danger to a parent - if the birth mother endured beatings, death threats, arson, and other abuse by a mentally ill father of the child. Mine is such a case, and that's the reason I cannot condemn any mother who wishes not to be known. As it happens, my son contacted me after 35 years. If he hadn't, I might have chosen the "no contact" option if it were offered by the State. I'm very much on the fence about the comments I see about whether birth mothers should be able to maintain their privacy, due to my experience.

      Ultimately I decided that my son has the right to know his parents, although I wasn't happy about it - Today it's all about him now, not about me any more. I can't make that decision for other first mothers, though.

      Luckily for me, my son found his father first. He is still mentally ill and it sounds like he is worse than years ago. My son was not impressed and not happy with the truth about his father's immature and unstable behavior today, that he has seen for himself. My son has promised not to tell his father anything about me; I explained that I hope not to live with police, lawyers, restraining orders, judges, etc., etc., which is how it used to be on a daily basis. But still, I must be prepared, and I may have to defend myself against an attack one day.

      I don't mean to argue with adoptees about their right to know their origins and their parents. Just suggesting that some birth mothers may have a good reason for wishing to remain anonymous. They may have other things going on in their backgrounds, which the adoptees (thankfully) have no way of knowing, or no experience with these issues.

      If I didn't care about what happened to my sons, my babies, I could have dumped them with their father. Instead, they were raised with generosity and kindness by their adoptive parents, and did not have any exposure to alcohol and drug abuse, deprivation (refusal to take them to a doctor when they were sick), physical violence or criminal activity.

      I'm not sure if we can consider birth mothers as a wholesale group, who have no acceptable reason to desire privacy and peace, if they are able. This is one of the realities of the issue, is it not?

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    4. New and Old:
      I doubt you were ever promised privacy and anonymity when you relinquished your son. Regardless of YOUR situation or circumstances, it would be most selfish and unfair of you to have even considered denying your son any knowledge of you or his birth father. As painful, shameful, or embarrassing as the truth may be, we owe that truth to our relinquished children. We. Owe. Our. Relinquished. Children. The. Truth. No more secrets or lies for adoptees. It's bad enough that states have denied their fundamental rights to their OBCs, but IMO it's as bad or maybe worse for a birth mother (and yes, I am also a birth mother 'cause I gave birth to my son and am also his mother) to deny contact with her relinquished child.

      Your son didn't ask to be born into a dysfunctional situation and seems only to be seeking answers and basic knowledge. As a fellow birth mother, I can't even imagine the cruelty of refusing contact with my child. It is the very least we can do to meet them and answer all their questions.

      Too bad you couldn't recognize the birth father as a mentally ill alcoholic drug user loser before you became pregnant. One reality for birth mothers is we lost the privilege of remaining anonymous when we chose to bed down with losers. It's a package deal, and it's the few birth mothers who want anonymity for personal reasons who are helping to keep OBCs sealed for the real victims of adoption.

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    5. Reality Check, your points are good, and I cannot disagree with them.

      I'm not sure I agree with the idea often expressed though, that the "mother who doesn't want to be found" is a myth; it is a reality with some women. We can't know what their individual reasons are; I posted my experience if it will help anyone who is reading to understand how a birth mother's mind can work.

      I'm not saying it's right, just that it's a factor still in play, albeit not in as large numbers today, as in the past.

      Delete
    6. But you lost the "privilege" of anonymity when you chose to relinquish ! Don't punish the innocent "child" for your bedding down with the loser father.....not the child's fault...he deserves the truth, irregardless.

      Delete
    7. Reality,
      new&old's ex was a criminal. Maybe he still is. Could he even be a threat to her sons?
      She has posted extensively about the situation.Her sons know why they were adopted. Her sons do know the truth, now.
      Yes, her sons have a right to the truth. They should know who their "father" is and they should know his history.

      Some men can be very sweet and they can hide their "loserness" behind a mask of charm. New & Old may not have known who she was dealing with all those years ago when she married him.
      New & Old's point is, if I understand it, that mothers who are hiding may have reasons that others cannot imagine. But the reasons might not be because of fears of "lost reputation" or shallowness.
      Some children were relinquished for adoption because they were in danger. If you cannot imagine that, then I am happy for you.

      Delete
    8. @new and old

      So you're saying the rights of one group of people (birth mothers) outweigh those of another group (adoptees)?

      Sorry, but I completely disagree. You have the right to refuse a relationship with your child, but you have NO right to deny any child the knowledge of his/her heritage.

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    9. Thanks for your comments - Reality, Balsam and Kaye - I think your points all stand up except for your "bedding down with losers" part, Reality, which sadly reflects the public and political attitude toward birth mothers and even much more so, single mothers. It is over-the-top and in my view, falls on deaf ears, as it has no constructive value and is intended to say that what happens to one woman, can't couldn't possibly happen to other women. I disagree with the attitude behind that statement, the sole intent of which is - to hurt.

      My individual story is not that important. What is important, I wanted to express - is that there may be some mothers who have serious reasons in wishing not to be known, which are not the fault of their child. She may be scared, she may not have much self-worth. She may have several backstories that might give her child cause to worry or be unhappy. Some of these mothers may choose to ask for no contact, as they are not sure about it. I haven't said that it is the right thing to do.


      No I think that if we must choose 1 or 2, the rights of adoptees (1) far outweigh the rights of privacy of 2 (the birth mother). I would like to see all BCs open when a child turns 18 and is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. I just assumed that they must have been, and was very surprised after coming to FMF, to find out that they are not.

      But I'm not completely on board with the argument that the idea of birth mother wanting to keep her privacy is a myth, some of them do exist. I am concerned for them also, as I am concerned for adoptees. I could have been one of them, and so I am not sure I can condemn redaction in a BC. I do think, however, that some mothers who don't want to be found, may find some happiness and joy when they are reunited with their child, even if they don't think it is possible to feel that. That is also my experience.

      Delete
    10. @New and old:
      "I can't make that decision for other birth mothers, though."

      It's NOT your choice to make. Nor is it the choice of any other mother, first mother, birth mother, incubator, walking womb to make.

      NOT. AT. ALL.

      YOU, nor any other mother or variant of mother should have the "choice" to withhold another person's own information (unaltered BC) from them for the rest of their lives. It's no way their fault that they became adopted. If anyone's fault, it certainly is partly due to the predicament of the mother that the adoptee became an adoptee (and all the f*kg junk that goes along with it). None of it is the adoptee's doing, but HE/SHE gets punished.

      This is about the human rights of the person adopted as a child, NOT the choice of the "parent". The "parent" can access his/her own unaltered BC, no problem. It's the ADOPTEE who cannot.

      Delete
    11. New and old,

      My mother didn't want me to tell my father anything about her life. I honored her choice.

      Hence, no lawyers or police or restraining orders needed.

      Delete
  12. I know the truth about my birth because my first mother who was there told me the details. My amended birthday certificate has everything correct except the name of the my original mother. That makes my obc the truth of my birth. I've heard of falsified birth certificates. I've been active in the adoption community for many years. I'm pretty confident that I don't have one because my amended birth certificate is correct in all details except for my mom's name.

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    1. Ann,
      that is what I thought. The OBC could be false, or it could be accurate, but your mother would know the truth.
      If at all possible, I would rather ask my mother about my birth facts than rely on government documents which can be falsified or mistaken.
      Of course, we should still always have the right to our documents, no matter what.

      Delete
  13. Shea, we can hustle all we want to draft bills, try to get them passed but a Governor can shoot them down in a NY minute. The Gov. of NH is an adoptive parent and he vied for us when he could of trashed us. BN had nothing to do with Rhode Island either, that was s dirty bill drafted by that moron John Greene (that BN told off as far as I know, BN did not support that bill). The protests I'm talking about well just go here:
    http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/
    These protests did help get media attention.
    So when is BN going to get the records opened in impossible states like NY, Florida, Texas? I've lost my faith in BN despite the hell we have to fight. And as far as this insult of these pro closed record monsters, I think it is pretty obvious they just want to make we adoptees feel bad about ourselves because we have to have our mommies permission to know who she is. What a hate crime they inflict on us. Maybe we would be more successful suing the churches the government and groups like the ACLU, the Knights of Columbus for THAT.

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  14. "But when those allies attempt to occupy and co-opt a movement and its resources, as you and Heather Dodd have done, you cease to become allies and become colonizers." You just described the tactics of Bastard Nation over the last decade. Bastard Nation has done nothing for adoptees but blockade, dismiss, lie, and stonewall for years. Bastard Nation no longer has a relevant voice and, due to their own actions over the years, does not have any credibility whatsoever in the adoptee community. Please step aside, Bastard nation. You do not speak for us.

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    1. Do you have a name? I'd like to know what you have done? For the past decade deformers have thrown adoptees under the bus for reunions and any other crumbs they can get. The issue is rights. Do you not know the definition of a right? Eugene Debs must be spinning, as well as Jefferson Adams, Mason, and the rest of that crew. Why do you continue to lick the boots of authority to try get what you want-- but don't seem to get it anyway? There is no dignity in that. And nothing will be won.

      Delete
    2. Marley, I do not doubt your passion or the work you have done over the many years. But left unanswered is whether or not your and the others in the leadership know their ancestry--of if an OBC will give it to them. Babies left on some steps somewhere will not have an OBC anywhere, so purity is easy to come by. In this case, I think the question is worth knowing.

      I obviously have nothing personal to gain if the records stay sealed or are opened. I found my daughter in 1981 by paying someone $1200. Who already had the information from what I had written in Birthmark.

      Delete
  15. Here is how Colorado got to open OBCs for everyone:

    Mutual consent registry in 1983. CI program in 1989. Prospective records access in 1999 (with retrospective access by mutual consent or if the sought party is deceased. Disclosure veto had to be filed within three years of Final Order of Relinquishment.) Court of Appeals in 2009 granted access to records for those whose adoptions were finalized between 1951 and 1967. And finally access for all time periods in 2014-2015.

    How many people are affected in total? According to Rich Uhrlaub in Co, approximately 70,000 records impacting at least 250,000 people. This is based on a current rate of about 2200 sealed records created each year, descending back to the 1940s.

    By Bastard Nation's reasoning, every state that has some restrictions ought to be closed. Tell Pam Hasegawa and others in NJ who worked tirelessly for DECADES that they should have "stepped aside" and let the records stay sealed. Instead, they will open for all but the very few in Jan. 2017. Other states that you would not have accepted a compromise include Illinois, Tennessee, Delaware, Connecticut, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Washington--did I miss anybody? As anybody knows who studies this, the number of people who file disclosure vetoes is minuscule. Yes, it's wrong but in the meantime, THOUSANDS--IN SOME CASES MILLIONS--OF ADOPTEES ARE ABLE TO ACCESS THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORDS.

    How many hundreds of thousands of people would that have kept from having their OBCs--which you, for your theoretical purity--would deny? No one argues that open without restrictions is the best, is the just way, but telling everyone who has worked on opening records that they ought to step aside or are "Benedict Bastards"--as you have done--would leave very few people working for the cause, and furthermore leaves many more people to die without having their original birth certificates or having a reunion with a grave. Is that your goal? It certainly seems like it.

    And it is why Bastard Nation is not seen as the great white savior for adoptees.

    While you suggest all others not so pure step aside--have all the leaders of BN (I mean, not just the people who comment, but those who lobby with vehemence--already have their records or through other means have discovered their roots. Please urge them to all "step aside."

    I will write further about this at a later date. Politics is the art of the possible.

    As David Brooks wrote today: "Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate."

    To follow the thinking of Bastard Nation: There would have been no Emancipation Proclamation. No matter how flawed a document that was, it paved the way for the 13th Amendment, which freed the rest of the slaves.

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  16. One thing we've learned: policy, principle, and practical strategy cannot always be immediately aligned in the world of politics. Changes in attitude (or any other human endeavor) typically come incrementally, much as we might wish otherwise. If the only acceptable outcome is no-compromise change, then choose a no-compromise vehicle for that change (i.e. a Court battle or ballot initiative, as was done in OR). Sadly, the adoptee rights movement has not raised enough money to fund ballot initiatives or lawsuits in every state, and there is no guarantee that we would win even if we did. That leaves legislation, which by definition often requires compromises, fall-back positions, settling for "a slice of the pie" and coming back for more later. It also means that every bill is subject to unfriendly amendments, sabotage from powerful lobbyists and people working behind the scenes, and confusion and loss of credibility due to infighting and "friendly fire." So far, with only a few exceptions, strident cries to leave no one behind have mostly resulted in leaving everyone behind. At our current rate, most of us will be dead by the time even half the states have (though momentum is building and the past not have to define the future.) Talk is cheap. Only a relatively small number of individuals have demonstrated the commitment and sacrifice necessary to effect changs. Even groups like ALMA and the AAC, which have received significant funds over the years and claim to support adoptee rights have failed to substantially put their money where their mission statements are. Our nation's culture has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and the generation that rooted adoption in secrecy and shame is rapidly moving out of power. There are some compromises that are unacceptable and potentially permanently damaging to the cause. But until we have the resources and competent, willing leaders in every state who can clearly articulate effective talking points and accurately assess the socio-poiticsl climate to make the best strategic call for that state, we will miss out on the power and mass appeal of a unified, formidable movement. It's past time for the adoption reform movement to grow up, treat each other with respect, and put our money where our mouths are.

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    1. Very well said, Rich. Having been involved in adoption reform for the past 18 years and worked around a legislature, I know you are right on.

      My only suggestion is that next time you break you break your post into small paragraphs so it will be easier to read.

      Delete
    2. I should clarify that I don't know anything about ALMA's finances. I'm sure that if ALMA had the funds to mount aggressive campaigns in other states, it would have done so.

      I do know that there are many wealthy adoptees and adoptees with substantial political experience. (David Brock who is managing Hillary Clinton's campaign comes to mind.) I continue to be surprised that adoptees have not been able to bring these folks and their money into the cause.

      Delete
    3. And let us not forget that Karl Rove, to the best of my understanding, is also adopted. My guess is that neither of these two gentlemen are "interested."

      Delete
  17. To be clear: If a natural mother was "promised" confidentiality by an agency worker, they were promising what they could not, and the law did not guarantee. The laws were originally written to make sure that mothers were out of the picture and did not interfere with the new family; at the time those of us who tried to not "agree" (a misnomer) were told by agency social workers: We Can't Help You. THE LAWS WERE NEVER WRITTEN TO PROTECT A MOTHER'S ANONYMITY. QUITE THE OPPOSITE.

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  18. ALMA never had the kind of money that would have gone from state to state to get the question of sealed records on the ballot. ALMA did finance the court case that the Supreme Court refused to hear.

    Alma Society, Inc. v. Mellon, 601 F.2d 1225 (2nd Cir., 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 995, (1979).

    For a long time, much of ALMA's costs were borne by Florence Fisher and her husband because there was never enough money to finance everything she was doing.

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  19. Bastard Nation doesn't have any money, Lorraine. A quick search shows they don't even have non-profit status and haven't since 2007, almost a decade ago. Bastard Nation is a rogue organization with no relevance to today's activism. It's just one or two fringe people who enjoy derailing the work of others and then taking credit for the hardworking adoptees, first parents and adoptive parents who are truly in the trenches creating change. This is a case where the Emperor truly has no clothes. It is unfortunate that one or two people hiding behind a once respected name can still wield such poison at the good people like Heather actually opening records and producing real change in the here and now. Keep on fighting Lorraine.

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    1. This is a reply from Marley Grenier. For reasons unknown, the computer would not take new comments but I am able to post and in fairness to BN and to correct the above statement, I am posting this;


      "Bastard Nation is a 501(c)(4) recognized by the IRS for 20 years. We are incorporated in the State of Washington, In the future "Anne" please be careful what you claim about us. It may be actionable. Here is the link to our incorporation, Just type in the name.https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/
      Corporations Division
      Search historical corporations documents (prior to 2004) at the Digital Archives. All documents filed with the Corporations Division are considered public record.
      sos.wa.gov"

      Delete
  20. On ALMA's FB page the moderator made the claim that they have 250,000 members. If that means paid memberships at $50 apiece, that would mean they have taken $12 million over the past 40 years. When I made that observation and asked what happened to that money, how much of it was used to fund Legislative efforts or viable court cases, NY post was deleted. When I reposted the same observation and question, I was blocked from the page. How many paid members does ALMA have? Any 501(c)(3) is limited in the amount of money it can spend on Legislative activities which is why BNs leaders were smart to set up a 501(c)(4). But funds donated are not tax deductible, which provides a disincentive to larger donors in most cases. So what's the solution?

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    Replies
    1. Rich--I probably paid $50 in 1973 when I joined ALMA. I am not actively involved in that organization, Florence is retired and there was a someone who stole funds, I believe, eons ago. 250,000 members may mean every single person who ever signed up over the last 40 some years. I don't know how many members they have; it is my feeling that the chapters no longer are as active as they once were. And as for Florence funding the rent and office supplies, and much of her travel, that was in the 70s and 80s. Florence, who is in her 80s, retired about a decade ago. We are still in touch.

      Delete
  21. I'll be honest, I don't know how I feel about clean bills/dirty bills. On one hand a clean bill helps all adoptees without the added insults to us built in but they take so long to pass. On the other hand, with a restricted bill I will call it instead of dirty, yes, hundreds of thousands of adoptee get their OBC's but what about the ones that don't. What if I was one of them? I don't think I could stand it. Adoption makes life unfair enough as it is. This MLK quote gets to me concerning all of this:
    “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
    Maybe I just answered my own question.

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  22. I have to agree with the Bastard Nation position. Only a clean bill grants equal rights for adoptees, and veto legislation erodes, rather than enhances adoptee rights. I feel offended and saddened that so many non-adoptees who are weighing in feel that it is okay to accept less than full equal rights for adult adoptees.

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    Replies
    1. Anyone who says that denying access to original birth certificates will stop people from finding their families if they want to is living in the 1990s. DNA testing is putting people in touch every single day.

      Having an OBC and reconnecting with families are two separate issues.

      Delete
    2. Me too, Janicenicol. Agree with Bastard Nation's position. I'm grateful for their stance and resource.

      Anon, 2/27, 10:32am. Agree too. Two issues - equality/equal rights is a different issue from whatever relationships/ connections/ contact people choose or try to keep in their personal lives.

      Delete
  23. After Ballot Measure 58 passed, several natural mothers who remained anonymous filed a lawsuit seeking to have the Measure declared unconstitutional. They were represented the LDS Church's attorneys.

    Delores Teller and Helen Hill were allowed to intervene in the law suit on the side of Measure 58. They were represented by adoptive father Thomas McDermott and Roy Pulvers. The Court of Appeals upheld the Measure holding that it was not unconstitutional. Not only did this decision allow the Measure to go forward, it is used in other states when access laws are challenged.

    Oregon-born adoptees are able to get their original birth certificates thanks to collaboration between adoptees, natural parents, and adoptive parents. Without all three groups no state would have enacted an open records law, even a restricted one.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the clarification, Lorraine, and the suggestion to break up my sermonettes into smaller pieces, Jane. I don't care if ho gets the job done...just that it gets done. There's plenty of work left for all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I am an adoptee and am President of Access Connecticut Now, Inc., a 501(c)(4) non profit organization. Until 1975 Connecticut law granted OBC access to adult adoptees and adoptive parents of minors. Since 1975 CT has been a confidential intermediary state where first parents have a non-disclosure veto as to their identity, which (since a law was passed in 1987)expires upon their death.

    Since some people writing on this thread seem to feel personal history/status is relevant, I have my OBC, my probate court file and my birth parent’s termination of parental rights file. My adoptive parents were given my birth name at the time of placement, which was legal in 1960, and they gave it to me. I have been in reunion with my birth relatives for 35 years.

    In 2014 Access Connecticut successfully lobbied for Public Act 14-133 which restored OBC access to adult adoptees born and adopted after October 1, 1983. This date was based on the fact that since October 1, 1983 an Affidavit has been legally required in all voluntary termination of parental rights proceedings, which put the birth parent(s) on notice that their identity or the identity of other blood relatives could be revealed to the adoptee when they reached the age of majority.

    We are actively working to extend this success to the pre-1983 adoptees. We believe an incremental approach, like the one used in CO and the one we are using here, is more likely to result in access for all adoptees than an "all or nothing" approach.

    Furthermore, while we understand (and share) the concern that a redact or non-disclosure veto creates a risk that future legislators will not override it at a later date, we have been able to do so in Connecticut.

    By granting unrestricted access to OBCs, the non-disclosure veto was effectively repealed for adoptees covered by Public Act 14-133. Before Public Act 14-133, if a post-1983 adoptee used the intermediary search law in, say, 2010 and the birth mother vetoed disclosure of her identity, the adoptee was not entitled to identifying information until the birth parent died. That very adoptee can now go to the State Department of Public Health and get her OBC which has the birth mother’s (and the adoptee's original) identity in it.

    So the non-disclosure veto has been effectively overridden.

    (Note the intermediary/veto statute is still on the books. It is contained in a different section of the statutes than the right to obtain the OBC, and is still available to pre- and post-1983 adoptees. Theoretically a post-1983 adoptee can still request a search, birth mother is found and declines disclosure, but adoptee goes and gets OBC, and discovers her identity anyway.)

    It is thus incorrect to say that never in U.S. history have veto laws been advanced or transformed into unrestricted access. We have transformed/overridden ours.

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  26. Is there anyway to document how many reunions are made via DNA? Yes, there are some, but for most the quickest way is a piece of paper. Because of the hurdles involved, I suspect the numbers are quite limited.

    Yes, OBC access and searching are two different things, but for many if not most, they are interconnected.

    If no first mothers supported unsealing the records, the way for any of this to happen would be nearly nada. Just try to lobby in a closed state. For a day. For an hour.

    While we all can agree that no restrictions of any sort is the best, what saddens and surprises me is the lack of political acumen of many who oppose any sort of legislation that moves the needle that way, just not all the way.

    If Florence Fisher had accepted a prospective bill for adoptees from 1979 on, the whole country would have moved more in that direction, and certainly in New York. Legislators would see that the sky did not fall.

    Connecticut is another state where incremental legislation has continually moved towards access (not completely open yet)--as is the case in Colorado.

    Would someone please explain the CT situation/law at this point?

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am an adoptee and am President of Access Connecticut Now, Inc., a 501(c)(4) non profit organization. Until 1975 Connecticut law granted OBC access to adult adoptees and adoptive parents of minors. Since 1975 CT has been a confidential intermediary state where first parents have a non-disclosure veto as to their identity, which (since a law was passed in 1987) expires upon their death. www.accessconnecticut.org

    Since some people writing on this thread seem to feel personal history/status is relevant, I have my OBC, my probate court file and my birth parent’s termination of parental rights file. My adoptive parents were given my birth name at the time of placement, which was legal in 1960, and they gave it to me. I have been in reunion with my birth relatives for 35 years.

    In 2014 Access Connecticut successfully lobbied for Public Act 14-133 which restored OBC access to adult adoptees born and adopted after October 1, 1983. This date was based on the fact that since October 1, 1983 an Affidavit has been legally required in all voluntary termination of parental rights proceedings, which put the birth parent(s) on notice that their identity or the identity of other blood relatives could be revealed to the adoptee when they reached the age of majority.

    We are actively working to extend this success to the pre-1983 adoptees. We believe an incremental approach, like the one used in CO and the one we are using here, is more likely to result in access for all adoptees than an "all or nothing" approach.

    Furthermore, while we understand (and share) the concern that a redact or non-disclosure veto creates a risk that future legislators will not override it at a later date, we have been able to do so in Connecticut.

    By granting unrestricted access to OBCs, the non-disclosure veto was effectively repealed for adoptees covered by Public Act 14-133. Before Public Act 14-133, if a post-1983 adoptee used the intermediary search law in, say, 2010 and the birth mother vetoed disclosure of her identity, the adoptee was not entitled to identifying information until the birth parent died. That very adoptee can now go to the State Department of Public Health and get her OBC which has the birth mother’s (and the adoptee's original) identity in it.

    So the non-disclosure veto has been effectively overridden.

    (Note the intermediary/veto statute is still on the books. It is contained in a different section of the statutes than the right to obtain the OBC, and is still available to pre- and post-1983 adoptees. Theoretically a post-1983 adoptee can still request a search, birth mother is found and declines disclosure, but adoptee goes and gets OBC, and discovers her identity anyway.)

    It is thus incorrect to say that never in U.S. history have veto laws been advanced or transformed into unrestricted access. We have transformed/overridden ours.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Neither Lorraine, nor I nor any natural mother is responsible for laws allowing natural mother vetoes.

    The villains are the adoption "professionals" who beat adoptee advocates to the state houses and the media, They convinced legislators and the general public via the media that natural mothers were promised confidentiality. They claimed to know hundreds if not thousands of natural mothers and their words were accepted as gospel.

    As with many fictions, there is some truth to the confidentiality story. Most BSE mothers assumed, if they were not told, that the birth and adoption would not be made public. Our need for secrecy was why I hid out in San Francisco, Lorraine hid out in an apartment, and many mothers hid in maternity homes. Based on this history, it was not hard for adoption practitioners to turn "not made public" into "not allowing her child to know her name."

    The myth of confidentiality is so wide-spread that some practitioners believe it According to an adoption attorney friend of mine, many members of American Academy of Adoption Attorneys believe records were sealed to protect mothers.

    Advocates for allowing adoptee access to OBCs would do much better by educating the media, legislators, and adoption practitioners rather than fighting among themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane~ As an adoptee advocate, I think it's really important that we hone our arguments regarding confidentiality. Whether or not confidentiality was promised to first mothers is irrelevant. The confidential nature of adoption records was written into state statutes - what that confidentiality entails is that the proceedings are closed to the public, and the file regarding the relinquishment and adoption is not accessible to the public. Now, what WASN'T included in statute (and truly is a myth) is ANONYMITY IN PERPETUITY. Anonymity is different from confidentiality, just at the subject of the relinquishment/adoption (the adoptee) should not be confused with the general public regarding accessing their adoption records. That's why providing OBCs to adoptees would not be violating any provisions - either in statute or otherwise given - for confidentiality.

      Delete
    2. J-Law, your patronizing tone doesn't help your cause. Contrary to what you state, providing OBCs to adoptees does violate the law of confidentiality of the OBC unless the law is changed. Court and other adoption records are not closed only to the public but to the parties--adoptees and adoptive parents--and their attorneys.

      Advocates do need to home their arguments but what you presented is sophistry. You don't know whether mothers were promised anonymity in perpetuity. Some likely were. This is not binding on legislators of course but many legislators believe mothers deserve protection regardless of whether the promises had a legal basis.

      The laws are unfair. Lots of laws are unfair. The way you change unfair laws is to find allies and develop arguments which engender sympathy. Attacking your best friends -- natural mothers - gets you nowhere.

      Delete
    3. Jane~ I was not being patronizing in the least, nor was I attacking anyone. You seem to have missed the gist of what I was saying on all scores. Let me try again, as I know the written word misses a lot by way of tone: What I was saying is "Confidentiality is not a myth, but ideas of anonymity ARE a myth."
      Yes, birth mothers could have been promised anonymity, but that would fall outside of statute - i.e. fall outside of what anyone would be empowered to have promised a birth mom, so it has no bearing on the matter at hand. And an adoptee is not the general public, so providing them their OBCs is not the same as opening the file to the general public. The essence of confidentiality as envisioned under law would be maintained.

      Delete
    4. Providing an adoptee with confidential information is the same as providing it to the general public unless the adoptee takes an oath of secrecy. Once the adoptee has the information, he/she can post it on the internet, put it in the local newspaper, broadcast it on the radio and TV.

      The adoption industry has created a picture of a natural mother, terrified her secret will come out and a mean-spirited adoptee tracking her down and causing her worst fear to come true. Adoptee advocates need to change the picture. Legalistic arguments about the difference between confidentiality and anonymity aren't going to cut it.

      Delete
    5. And what should the counter approach be? Creating the picture of the callous, selfish child abandoner, trying to uphold the false image of decent citizen? Who else would block access, after all?

      Delete
    6. Adoptees have to make themselves sympathetic without slamming their natural mothers or adoptive parents. I'd suggest they concede that some mothers were promised lifetime anonymity but these were different times when unwed pregnancy among white girls was thought to lead to a lifetime of failure if others learned of the pregnancy.

      Times are different today --the non-judgmental "single mother" has replace "unwed mother." Forty percent of babies are born to single mothers. Human decency demands that adoptees should not continue to be outcasts, to bear the burden of bastardy. Birth certificates were amended to protect them from the stigma of bastardy. Now we know a child's past, his genetics, etc. cannot be wiped out by altering records. Adoptees should not continue to be punished by laws designed to help them.

      Delete
  29. While I appreciate that individual states are (slowly) opening records to at least some adult adoptees, this really needs to be mandated at a federal level.

    I know I'm in the minority even among adoptees but, having been "re-homed" at the age of 10, I have not one, but TWO amended B/Cs, and records housed in three different states.

    Which state laws apply? The state where I was born and which has my OBC clutched tightly in its fist? The state where I was first adopted and which resulted in the original OBC being sealed? Or the state where the second adoption took place, which resulted in the amendment of the amended B/C? (Currently, none of the three states allow me more than a bare minimum of information.)

    My life is a tangled mess.

    ReplyDelete
  30. So why do legislators believe the adoption industry more than first mothers like you Lorraine and Jane? And how can they hold any of you to this lie without legal proof like seeing the document you signed for anonymity (that doesn't exist). I don't understand how they can continue to make new laws (like clauses in open record bills) without a piece of paper saying any of the BS LDS and Catholic Charities continues to push is true. At the very least no damn adoption agency or religious group has a right including legal to create these insulting vetos just on their unreliable word. I think it is time we start saying that to lawmakers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Legislators believe the industry over mothers like me and Lorraine in part because the industry claims to know the desires of hundreds, if not thousands, of mothers that they have "helped" over the years. The industry claims it is going to bat for these scared mothers in the closet, unable to speak for themselves. Lorraine and I can speak only for ourselves and the few dozens of mothers we have known. The response tends to be, "well you, Lorraine, and other outspoken mothers are exceptions." Even when leglislators accept that the majority of mothers support allowing their children access to their OBCs, they still want to protect the few who the industry claims will go off the deep-end when they get that knock on the door.

      The other reason, of course, is that the industry has lobbyists who schmooze with legislators and contribute to their campaigns.

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  31. The problem is that legislators believe so many woman want anonymity--the Cathlic Conference and Catholic Charities, as well as, surprisingly, the ACLU, lobby endlessly for this position--and legislators listen to that. Then they will listen to first mothers when they plead the case for opening records and point out the fallacy of any veto. While I have always felt that the adopted have to be the leaders--and in HUGE numbers--knocking on legislators doors and filling their mailboxes, they also listen to what mothers say because they mistakenly feel they have to "protect" this increasingly small minority. I tried long and hard to break through with the ACLU in NJ to no avail. The leadership could not see that by their false "protection" of natural mothers they were in effect denying the liberties of the adopted. The judges in New York who testified at the last hearing were also adamant in their belief that lives would be ruined, etc. if the clean bill we had in New York at the time passed. Why the few mothers in the closet need their "protection" from their own children is part of old-think, but nothing seems to change some legislator's minds or make them see how in doing that they strip the rights from others. NO ONE SHOULD BE DENIED AN ANCESTRY BECAUSE IT WILL EMBARRASS SOMEONE.

    Even in New Jersey, after years and years of fighting for open records, did a bill pass--after someone powerful--the head of the Assembly as I recall--did a bill get out of the legislature. No wonder the historian Thomas Kuhn concluded almost 50 years ago that a scientific paradigm topples only when the last of its powerful adherents dies. Sadly, it appears that the same is true on this social issue.

    Our opponents seem to hold onto to the idea of this "protection" of a mother's anonymity with the same intensity of those who opposed and persecuted Galileo for adhering to Copernicus's theory that the earth was not the center of our universe.

    Just as Copernicus's theory was proven correct, the records will be open for everyone one day. We may not all live to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, That is correct. In 2015 and 2016 the only people speaking out against our clean bill for original birth certificate access were Catholic Conference and Lutheran Family Services in MO. Why is it that we had 13 first mothers testify in our favor and they still wouldn't budge. It's a sad truth but until the church is separated from the state...we will have these problems.

      Delete
    2. Not sure it is just separation of Church and State--the legislators who are looking for a loophole or whose only focus is the "birth mother" find it in the churches and ACLU (when they get involved, it is on a state level) supply it.

      Let us not forget that some of these men are almost CERTAINLY fathers who do not want to be outed. Considering the men who have told me about their long lost children, considering the men who vehemently opposed me after Birthmark came out when they had no apparent reason to...I assume that many of the legislators oppose opening records for very personal reasons: the children they fathered who were adopted. Let us never forget that. I think we actually ought to start mentioning that when we testify for unsealing the OBCs.

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    3. Lorraine,
      I believe that closeted fathers are a force against opening the OBCs. Even though the father's names are not often on the OBC, they know that if the mother is revealed, she will most likely out them.
      I have helped searching adoptees to find their birth/first parents, and I have also been contacted by birth fathers. The birth fathers expressed fear that they would be hit up for back child support, 20, 30, 40 years after the relinquishment! No concern for the child, just concern about "having to pay." And some of the birth fathers were very worried about what "their wives would say" or "how it would look to their business associates."
      It is time to hold them responsible. They are not teen boys anymore or young men.
      Yes, some of them have sad stories and truly wanted their children, and are even working for openness.
      But, overall, they are just not present in trying to get OBCs or work for family pres. Where you will find them in greater numbers is in men's groups that are trying to actually force single women to give up children for adoption(so fathers don't have to pay child support). I have devoted years of my life to this work and it was a very disappointing experience, but I learned from it.

      Be very careful when you encounter "men's rights advocates."

      Delete
    4. I am completely convinced that the men who went nuts with anger when Birthmark came out in conjunction with a My Turn in Newsweek --they might have been able to ignore the book but in the publishing-heavy world I live in, the Newsweek piece made a few men NUTS even when I wasn't there, they would rant about it, what right did I have etc? One who was more circumspect but also opposed later told me that he believed had had a daughter--though he wasn't absolutely positive--that his other daughter knew nothing about.

      We need to point out the men in old-fashioned paternity suits were not guaranteed "privacy."

      Delete
    5. One thig to kerep in mind, there may be more opponents to adoptee access to their OBCs than the Catholic Conference and Lutheran Family Services although they were the only organizations that testified against the MO bill. Lobbyist for other industry groups -- adoption attorneys for example as well as adoptive parents may have talked to legislators at fund raisers, other events, or in their offices. These groups may have engineered a letter writing campaign against the bill. They may have gotten a commitment from the House Speaker or the Committee chair that they would not support the bill. Sadly, it may have been a done deal even before the hearing took place.



      Delete
  32. I didn't know that the ACLU supports anonymity of birth mothers. They are usually all for the rights of people, and I have been a member for several years. This is surprising to hear. They certainly don't mention this issue in any of their bulletins, newsletters or e-mails.

    What is their reasoning? Maybe I will write to them, and ask what's going on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, do write to the ACLU.

      The ACLU of Oregon opposed Ballot Measure 58 as violating the right to privacy. Its governing board made the decision without talking to Helen Hill, the Measure's Chief Sponsor, or other proponents. Fortunately, the ACLU did not actively campaign against the measure.

      Another hyper-liberal group, Ecumenical Ministries, also opposed Measure 58. Catholic Charities did not oppose it.

      I have to think the misguided position of the ACLU and EM was due in part to the fact that many of their elite were adoptive parents.

      Delete
  33. The ACLU argument in NJ had to do with conflating adoption with reproductive rights, the twisted idea that mothers should have a "right to privacy" from their own children. I do not think that national ACLU has a policy on this one way or another, but the local NJ chapter, along with strange bedfellows Catholic Bishops Conference, always opposed us.

    No matter how many mothers testify for open records, our opponents do not care; their only concern is the poor shadow "good" birthmothers who are cowering in the closet. By not being properly ashamed, bitthmothers who are visible and vocal have already lost their respect by not knowing their place in the patriarchal scheme of things. Sad but true.

    I have always supported adoptees' absolute right to their OBC even if none want to search, and none every apply for it. It should just be there for the asking like it is for us non-adopted people, no exceptions, or it is not really being treated as a human right, but as a gift that can be given or taken away by those in power.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ACLU in Oregon also conflates adoption with reproductive rights. The Ex. Dir. in Oregon told me the ACLU would probably oppose legislation to give mothers time and information to decide on adoption. He likened it to laws that require pregnant women to be given information about their developing babies and require a waiting period before they can have an abortion.

      The ACLU is, he said, against "forced speech."

      Delete
    2. OK, it's official now. The ACLU has its head up its ass.

      Delete
  34. Hi New and Old:
    I wrote to an ACLU rep on this subject several years ago. This is what I said and what he said, and I'm afraid it's not much.

    For the life of me, I have never been able to understand why the ACLU would be getting in bed with the right to life movement and the Roman Catholic Church on closed records.

    What has happened since 1998 when you first proposed a new ACLU policy for debate? Doesn't the organization see that it's not about competing rights but about foundational rights of citizens? This should be right up their alley, no? Or do they incorrectly think this is an extension of the privacy rights of pregnant women?


    And this is what he wrote back:
    To the best of my knowledge, there still is no national ACLU policy on this issue. I am now retired so I am not as current on many issues as I used to be, but I believe I am correct on this one. Nonetheless, when the issue has arisen at the affiliate level, most affiliates have either taken no position or favor open records prospectively only. The reasoning being, as I understand it, that privacy was assured the birth parents at the time of the adoption and that promise should be kept.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am making all kinds of typing mistakes today. Please excuse the various repeats as I clean them up.

    Jess, that is exactly what I got when I wrote to the ACLU also. Personally, I think it also has to do with some of the people who head chapters in various states: they want to adopt and can't see past their own blinkers--or they know of an aunt/sister/college roommate/etc. who gave up a child and, like Jane and me, went into a kind of purdah and never brought it up again. As far as they know--Christ, the woman could be a member of CUB or going to a support group and yet not admit it to good friends. I've gotten emails from women who want to 'fess up to old friends and don't know how and are afraid the friend will be so offended they will end or pull back the friendship. It's happened to me with a friend who finally admitted that the reason so is so cool now is because 50 years ago when I got pregnant I didn't tell her....the Downton Abbey Edith complex...in action by yours truly.

    So the assumption is....the woman wants it that way...and so...

    Why the ACLU can't get see the reality of what their obstructionist policy has done is beyond me. They just will not consider the rights of the adopted, and it is pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Lorraine, I thought you would like to know that I had a chat with Sara Feigenholtz last week, and she pledges not to rest until OBCs are restored for all adoptees in IL. She's going after it piece by piece. I asked her to let me know of anyone she knows who has been redacted, and I pledged to do everything in my power to help them get around the veto and get their information by other means until the inequality is rectified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For those who do not know, Feigenholtz was the adoptee legislator behind the current legislation in IL that does have an opt-out clause for hiding mothers. One piece of legislation that pries the door open for most does not mean that the others are totally forgotten.

      Delete
  37. Many here probably remember Susan of the Family Ties blog who passed away in 2014. Her daughter, Jenn, keeps the blog going and has posted numerous details about the shenanigans of the Pennsylvania ACLU and the Catholic Conference with respect to HB162. You can click on the blog directly at FMF's blog list.

    ReplyDelete
  38. In Connecticut the local chapter of the ACLU was opposed to access legislation in the late 1998s. They were non-responsive to our requests for support in 2014, but submitted no testimony in opposition to our bill. We consider them to be neutral at this time.

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  39. I do not believe that anyone who really grasps the fact that adoptees have as equal a right to their birth records as any other citizen would be able, in good conscience, to accept conditional legislation. Such compromises may appear to nudge things forward but in reality they retrench old prejudices and ideas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoops. I meant "re-entrench".

      Delete
  40. annie not quite anonFebruary 28, 2016 at 6:46 PM

    in the meantime, a millions of people have the right to get their birth certificates. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
  41. From Les Miserables (Victor Hugo): "To be ultra is to go beyond. It is to attack the scepter in the name of the throne, and the miter in the name of the altar; it is to mistreat the thing you support...it is to insult through an excess of respect; it is to find too little papistry in the pope, in the king too little royalty, and too much light in the night; it is to be dissatisfied with the albatross, with snow, with the swan, and the lily for not being white enough; it is to champion things to the point of becoming their enemy; it is to be so pro you become con."

    Perhaps Bastard Nation is a bit Ultra. They are so pro they have become con.

    ReplyDelete
  42. For all the first mothers out there who have worked to unseal adoptees' original birth certificates, and who have felt trivialized and dismissed in some of these comments, here is a passage from Adoption Politics, Wayne Carp's book about Measure 58, the ballot initiative that opened records in Oregon:

    ..."During the last week of the campaign, Bastard Nation (BN) lost control of the campaign's message. The arguments began to focus on the rights of birth mothers to their privacy, not adoptees' civil rights. BN leaders found themselves on the defensive, unprepared to counterattack the oppositions' relentless reiteration that Measure 58 would abrogate promises that adoption agencies had given birth mothers to keep their identity confidential.

    "Through the campaign, the BN leadership had never taken these arguments seriously, dismissing them on the grounds that the promises had never been given and refusing to recognize the emotional power of the claim with the public....."

    "The reasons for BN's ignoring the opposition's main argument are complex." including hoeing to their ideological party line, and ignoring their opponents' message, but they also harbored a deeper reason...:"From the very beginning of the adoption search movement, some adopted adults harbored resentment toward their birth mothers, whom they viewed as having callously abandoned them."

    "But an even more specific reason for Measure 58's proponents blindness to the issue of birth others' claim to privacy was Shea Grimm's opposition to birth mothers' having a prominent role in what she considered an adoptee rights issues.

    After a columnist for the Oregonian wrote several columns against unsealing the birth records because of survivors of rape, opinion was being swayed against Measure 58. Hill sought advice from Grimm, though she was well aware that Grimm "had a real thing against birth mothers--all of them." Grimm wanted Hill's companion, a birth mother to "get her out of there, she's a birthmother." Hill herself had none of these problems with birth mothers and came to like Delores Teller, a birth mother who was president of the Oregon Adoptee Rights Organization and later became president of the American Adoption Congress. Teller was highly effective behind the scenes, says Carp, working passage of Measure 58.

    Carp notes that Hill eventually decided to run a full-page ad in the Oregonian with the names of birth mothers who supported Measure 58: "The idea for the ad came from Jane Edwards, a 56-year-old Salem attorney, new to adoption activism, who had recently reunited with her birth daughter."

    The design was brilliant: "Five hundred signed birth mother statements run together one after another in support of either Measure 58 or open adoption records. In the middle of trying to fit them all on one page, when [birth mother] Delores Teller suggested that a photograph of five birth mothers who supported Measure 58 be placed in the middle of the ad. Jane Edwards was in that photo; I remember being thrilled from across the country to add my name and a few words in support and at the time was able to read the ad when it appeared. Carp concludes:

    ..to be continued...

    ReplyDelete
  43. ..."Those who read the statements, set in tiny type, could not help being moved. Sherryl Wilkens wrote: 'My son was born as a result of rape and I am willing to speak to anyone in support of Measure 58.'...The full-page ad rain in the Sunday edition of the Oregonian on Nov. 1., and was well placed, right after the editorial and op-ed pages. With the publication of the birth mother ad, media electioneering for Measure 58 was, for all intents and purposes, over."

    Two days later the election was held. The victory margin was 57-43.

    So when you, my first mother/birth mother sisters feel trivialized and told you should not be involved in the movement to unseal records, carry on resolutely. Legislators can understand that adoptees should have their original birth certificates, but they are still stuck in the past. Some of them truly are concerned about first mothers' privacy; others are protecting their own anonymity to children they fathered. Both of us are needed in the movement to unseal records.

    Dear sisters, carry on, be fearless, do not let the bastards get you down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lorraine your last post should put an end to the discussion. I'm sorry that it probably won't.
      As a birthmother I would love to have a copy of my sons OBC. Interesting he lives in Kansas adopted in Missouri & had heard nothing about the efforts to open records.
      All we can do is "carry on".

      Delete
  44. We were asked when finalizing our daughter's adoption if we wanted to change the place of birth. I thought it was one of the most ridiculous questions I've ever been asked. I actually asked the clerk to repeat herself because I didn't understand. How could they possibly be offering to me to change a factual statistic? Of course, putting us down as the parents of birth isn't factual either, so I suppose what's one more made up item.

    Anyway, just to put that out there, we were offered that opportunity and it was put in a way that seemed rather matter of fact, as if it's asked of every PAP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the law in several states, including NJ. It was designed to make the "as if born to" illusion more believable and was enacted at a time (1930s and '40s) when people still believed babies were a "blank slate" whom adopters could mold to fit in their families. Many of these adoptees have never been told they were adopted.

      Delete
    2. I had no idea. Thanks for the information, Pris, Adopted One, and Tiffany.

      Delete
    3. We were not asked if we wanted to change the place of birth on our adopted son's birth certificate. I wonder if it is different when you adopt from foster care? In fact, nobody talked to us about his birth certificate at all, and we had absolutely no clue they made any changes at all to birth certificates of adoptees, when we adopted our son.

      I distinctly recall seeing his OBC when they showed us his file. When we received the file upon finalization of the adoption, we assumed it was what we had seen before. It wasn't until months later, when I casually perused the file, that I saw the change - and it totally creeped me out to see my name instead of Lenny's mother's name. I started leafing through the binder frantically and, of course, never found the OBC. It would never have occurred to us that a governmental agency, no less, would tamper with such a vital record.

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  45. The ACLU also DEFENDS PEDOPHILES! They actually had the gall to support NAMBLA in a case years ago. Whoever and whatever they are they are a sick bunch of unjust confused idiots and liars imo. Don't forget the Mormon Church who tries to keep the adoption records closed either and I agree our fathers have to stop being immature little pansy asses, man up to creating us and do the right thing for once.

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  46. Tiffany, I am assuming you did not change the place of your adopted child's birth? If so, thank you. All I have to say to any AP who would, YOU ARE NOT GOD. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO DO THAT AND IF YOU DO YOU ARE GOING TO ROT IN HELL, which you will someday find is a million times worse than not being able to have your own kid sweethearts.

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  47. There is now a blog elsewhere slamming First Mother Forum and myself for allowing a comment above that states Bastard Nation is not a non-profit.

    For those who have not seen it, there is now comment from Marley Grenier above stating that Bastard Nation is a fully credited non-profit, with a link to show that it is. Her earlier comment which contained other language was not approved. However the time lag and no one contacting us directly to find out what happened apparently led to the nasty blog post. Since Marley's comment was posted--we had a computer glitch last night and her own comment could not be posted for some reason, so I posted it as she wrote it. We were in constant communication at the time. I have done what she asked; I have asked that the blog post slamming First Mother Forum now be removed, as it apparently is whipping up more sentiment against mothers and other adoptees on Facebook.

    We shall see.

    Peace.

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  48. As an FYI to all, my first post on this thread also ran into difficulties. It was remedied when I signed out of my Google account after discussing the problem with Lorraine. I suggest people check with administrators before they assume they are being personally targeted.

    At Access Connecticut we have decided that the damage being wrought by disrespectful, hostile language and personal attacks within the adoptee rights community needs to be addressed by Rules of Conduct, which our Board approved on February 27, 2016. This kind of language/behavior harms members of the community, discourages others from joining, and sets back the entire cause. It is dishonoring of the very principles of human dignity we all purport to be fighting for.

    Our Rules of Conduct are pinned to the top of our Facebook page and is on our website. Any posts on our FB Page (which is open to the public) which fail to comply with our Rules of Conduct will be deleted.

    If it would be helpful to any anyone else feel free to copy, use or adapt as you see fit.

    Access Connecticut Now, Inc.
    Rules of Conduct

    For the organization to function optimally and foster open, productive dialogue it is essential that dialogue (in person, telephone or via email) be experienced as safe and welcoming by its members. The following Rules of Conduct are intended to promote such an environment.

    1. We will treat each other with respect and dignity in our language and conduct.

    2. There will be no name calling, swearing or offensive language, insults, humiliating, shaming, contempt or disgust directed at each other. Note that these behaviors, even if directed at someone outside the group, tend to create a hostile atmosphere. Strong feelings can be expressed with strong language without become hostile or emotionally violent. We will endeavor to “use our words” and express ourselves without demonizing others.

    3. Personally and politically sensitive and/or confidential information may be shared at meetings. If information shared at a meeting is requested to be confidential, every effort will be made to respect this confidentiality. If you wish to share something confidential discussed at a meeting, either confirm the information is available publicly or obtain the permission of the person who shared the information.

    4. We recognize we are all merely human, that perfect behavior is not possible at all times and it is understood we all make mistakes. Remember the power of an apology if you recognize you have violated one of these rules.

    Rev. 2.27.16

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    Replies
    1. This is great! I had supported the bill in Illinois, but was viciously attacked online by those who opposed it because of the veto. Then I was attacked by my first mother after she read the attacks of others. I got branded as anti open records, which I am not. I was the target of much criticism. Instead of being an ally for open records they branded me an enemy. The whole experience confused me, and turned me off off off to supporting any open records legislation. I simply didn't want to deal with the community that feigned support of open records. Some guidelines such as what you have outlined, if followed, might have prevented this.

      Delete
    2. Candy, this is for you and I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner. I know whereof you speak. The in-fighting has turned many people off.

      Delete
  49. New and old, I don't get you. I am an adoptee and a single mother. My child's father was violent to me and has threatened my life. I have a restraining order on him. But I kept my baby, despite how dangerous and insane he was. I think it is just like some sort of unrealistic Hollywood script to give your child away because your child's father is a loon. You could of done so many other things, like get his rights terminated, get him committed, have him arrested for attempted murder, go underground. All these choices would of made sense but giving away your sons? Hurting them like you did? Absolutely not. For centuries women have endured violence and abuse from men, especially drinking men, but no woman ever gave her children to strangers and felt it fine and dandy for them to call one of those strangers Mom. I have a hard time believing your story as it reeks of pro-adoption propaganda. And Lorraine, I was wondering what blog is now trashing this one? It is sad what adoption has done to all of us. Just more proof adoption is evil and causes upheaval not peace.

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    1. here we go with the accusations..."pro-adoption propaganda"...you must be very young, Lee. New & Olds kids were born 40 years ago, or maybe you did not read her story.
      Laws and practices were a lot different then. Abusive men were able to get away with quite a lot, especially if they were married.
      She was married to their father. That made it a lot harder to terminate his rights, for one thing.

      "unrealistic Hollywood script"....hahaha...I have lived long enough to know that Hollywood is not as crazy as real life. And a lot of "Hollywood scripts" are taken from real life. They change the names,etc. But, the stories often come right from real life.
      One thing I agree with, and that is no loving woman feels good about giving her child away. And they fear ,and some of them know, that their children will be hurt by it.

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  50. Anonymous asked if we changed our daughter's place of birth. No, we did not.

    I don't believe a person should have that kind of unchecked control over another person's history. She's my daughter, not a possession, and her history belongs to her- it's not mine to alter. I was already angry about her OBC alterations and listing us as her parents of birth when we are absolutely not. We hadn't realized that with an open adoption, they would still close the OBC and issue and amended BC. I honestly thought that kind of thing happened years ago, not today with all these agencies touting open adoption. Like Jay Iyer, we didn't know. I thought we would use an adoption decree document as our record as her legal parents. When I talk to people, they are surprised by this- I don't think the general public realized this goes on. I know I didn't realize this before it happened to us.

    My daughter does have a copy of her OBC tucked away in a safe deposit box, and her parents also have a copy. We bought extras before it was sealed. But the point is that she shouldn't have to depend upon us to provide her with something that should be hers without question. Once she reaches 18, she is an adult. That document should be hers, and she should be able to obtain a copy without any issue. I am not her gatekeeper when she is an adult. Although I get that some first mothers wanted secrecy, and some still do today, but one adult's rights do not supersede another adult's rights.

    My daughter knows her parents. We have her OBC. All four of us could go together to court and petition for her to get her own record, and she still could be denied. It's all very twisted.

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  51. Lee, you are you, and I am me. I don't think that it will help to try to defend my decisions, to you. Nor do I feel it is necessary.

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    Replies
    1. It is absolutely appalling when adults are called upon to defend their decisions to complete strangers on a blog. It is one aspect of the way in which adoption reform is discussed in public that bothers me tremendously. Mind you, I believe it is a woman's right to surrender because she knows herself and her circumstances best. Others here (and elsewhere, I might add) apparently do not.

      Delete
    2. @ new and old
      Standing, clapping, cheering.

      Delete
    3. I am standing, clapping & cheering too!

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    4. New & Old,
      when I was very young, I might have thought that I "knew" what was happening to other women, in their lives. I might have thought they could always control the "bad men."
      Then, a friend, who had told me of her plans to start a new life with her children in Texas, was killed. She was close to completing a college degree.
      One night, her ex-husband was waiting hidden near her front door, when she returned home from a date.
      He shot her to death.
      We have to do what we must to protect ourselves and our loved ones. No one knows your situation like you do.
      And you have told your sons the truth, so they know , too.
      I respect you, very much.

      Delete
  52. Now is the time for the first parents, adoptees and supportive adoptive parents to band together and end the lies for all future adoption. Legislation and/or referendums need to be drafted to end amended birth certificates. Adoptions will continue to take place but the process can be changed to eliminate sealed files and falsified replacements. If we can get this passed in ONE state, the others will have a model to follow. Oregon and Ohio appear to have a supportive base and momentum.
    Adoptive families mostly go along with whatever paperwork is presented to them. Some adoptive parents, like me, are offended by the present system. What if the adoptions in 2018 and beyond did not seal records? Sealed records could end.

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  53. Tiffany, your daughter is so lucky to have her OBC. I wish I had known this issue of sealing the OBC, so I could have got a copy of it for our son. Nobody (social workers) breathed a word about it to us!

    When we got the official adoption decree, it made sense that we would need a legal document showing we had adopted Lenny as our son and he wasn't just some kid we had kidnapped. But there really was no need for anything else, in our minds, so never in a million years would it have occurred to us that they would go and tamper with the facts regarding his birth! In fact, I believe FMF is where I was alerted to the OBC issue, which prompted me to revisit Lenny's file. I was utterly shocked to find that the OBC I remembered so vividly was not only gone, but it was replaced by one that said I had given birth to him. I found it really grotesque, and feel cheated that nobody discussed this with us. The file that they showed us before we adopted him had his OBC, so when they handed us what looked like that same file after the adoption was finalized, I assumed everything I had seen previously was in there.

    So much of what goes on in adoption is duplicitous, I feel embarrassed that I was so unaware even after we adopted Lenny.

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  54. I am hoping in the state of Indiana that they pass this law for closed adoptions be aloud to be opened. I am looking for a brother and have been for more than 20 years but becuz it was a closed adoption every turn I make leads to a dead end. I am the only child left and would love the opportunity to meet my brother who today would be 45 years old. The adopted parents could have changed his name and so on but my goal is to one day find him and let him know I exist. If anyone reads this and can give me any info on how or what I can do please help me.. Thank you #sadinindiana

    ReplyDelete

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