' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Good news on bills in Ohio and Pennsylvania; Tina talks of the 'blood' connection on Survivor

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good news on bills in Ohio and Pennsylvania; Tina talks of the 'blood' connection on Survivor

Tina on left, daughter Katie on right 
UPDATED ON 12/16/13

"Jeff, there is something about my relationship to Katie, my daughter because I'm adopted. And I don't have those connections in my life, not until I had her had I felt a real connection in my life. It's a pure, unadulterated, pure love I have for her." --Tina Wesson, last night on Survivor.

When these pronouncements come out of the blue in places you don't expect them, they are great teaching moments for the public, a public that increasingly believes that adoption is simple and good and doesn't leave a great many adoptees with a hole in their hearts.

I heard this last night just hours after we learned that a bill that clears the way for adoptees in Ohio to access their birth certificates passed both houses of the state legislature. The bill waiting for the Governor's John Kasich signature would allow approximately 400,000 adult adoptees to be able to obtain copies of their original birth certificates at age 18. This is the first time in seven attempts that an adoptee OBC access bill in Ohio has passed both chambers. The bill fills a gap in Ohio for adoptees born between 1964 and 1996, during which those adopted could not get their original birth certificates, due to the various laws governing access. Those whose adoptions were finalized before 1964 could get their OBCs without restriction; from 1964 to 1996, those records were sealed; after 1996, first parents on the birth certificate could file a non-disclosure request at the time of surrender.

The bill does have a one-year window for first parents whose names are on the birth certificate to file a veto that would redact their names, but Betsie Norris and others working on the bill felt that this was the best legislation possible at this time, and it was either concede this, or nothing. Given the experience of other states, it is likely this will affect a minute number of individuals. According to Norris, there appears to be a small and unknown number of mothers who filed non-disclosure vetoes between 1996 and the present. If results from Oregon are a harbinger of what to expect, this will be the case. Only 86 women in Oregon have requested they be not contacted (their names are released nonetheless) since the records were opened there by popular vote in 2000. Of the nearly 11,000 original birth certificates released since then, as of May, only .007 of them came with a notice that the first parents on the original birth certificate requested no contact.

Progress is being made elsewhere too. In Pennsylvania the other day, the House unanimously passed a clean bill--no veto--that would give all adoptees there over the age of 19 the right to their original birth certificates. While non-adopted adults born in the Commonwealth can obtain their birth certificates at age 18, the extra year tacked on is clearly a slap in the face of all adopted individuals, treating them as people not equipped to have their birth certificates while they can vote and be shipped to Afghanistan in the armed forces. Pennsylvania Adoptees Rights, headed by Amanda Woolston, considers the bill to an extremely positive step in the right direction--but does not endorse it as being one of equal rights.

In New York, we are still way behind the curve. Although we have an energetic sponsor in David Weprin, and seemingly got close to getting our bill (A909) on the Assembly floor last year, once again we were thwarted by insidious forces in the legislature. A hearing that was scheduled for Monday in Manhattan on the bill is now set for January 31. Given that Monday's hearing was coming close to Christmas, this later date is probably better.

Although the cause of open records crosses party lines, personal involvement often plays a role in getting our bills passed. In Ohio, the sponsors of the bill included the sister of a first mother, Nickie Antonio (D); a post-1964 adoptee, Dave Burke (R); a sibling of an adoptee; Bill Beagle (R); and an adoptive parent, Dorothy Pelanda (R). This kind of personal connection has been critical in Maine, New Hampshire, Illinois, Oregon and elsewhere.

A final and sad twist to Survivor Tina's story: This morning when I searched for her last name, I learned that a son, a year younger than her daughter Katie, 26, died in an accident on December 3rd when a car he was riding in (without a seat belt) went off the road and crashed against a wall in Chattanooga and he was ejected. Survivor is taped months ahead of its showing on television. We do not know Tina, but we send her our sympathies and condolences.--lorraine


If you have a Ohio connection to your adoption, either as a first parent, adoptee or adoptive parent, here is how you can help:
Contact Governor Kasich encouraging him to sign the bill! 
Online: Click on the following link and fill out the required information. In the message section, be sure to include that you are contacting the office in support of  Substitute Senate Bill 23.

Phone: Call (614) 466-3555. When the office answers, say you are calling in support of recently passed legislation. You will be transferred to an aide. Be sure to let the aide know you are calling in
support of Substitute Senate Bill 23. You may be asked your name and contact information, however you do have the option of remaining anonymous.

In New York: Unsealed Initiative is spearheading the lobby effort in New York, and anyone with a New York connection to adoption--first parents, adoptees, adoptive parents--should contact Joyce Bahr at unsealedinitiative@nyc.rr.com. We need numbers, support and financial help.

In Pennsylvania: for more information: http://www.pennsylvaniaadopteerights.org/p/contact-us.html


Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search 
You've seen the movie (or will soon), why not read the true story? See our commentary at
Philomena: A forced adoption, a lifetime quest, a longing that never waned

Thanks to everyone who orders anything at all through First Mother Forum. Much appreciated. 


  1. Long time reader, first tme commenter. Think of me as an ally, who has been enlightened by this blog. Off topic, I was wondering what yalls take is on the adopted dad plastic surgeon who operated on his daughters, starting at age 10.

    Heres the link. http://gawker.com/plastic-surgeon-dad-turns-two-daughters-into-walking-ad-1481974675

    Yes, one of the women is biracial...smh. IMHO some people should not be allowed to adopt.

  2. Sadly, Tina's 25-year-old son died last week in a car accident. I feel badly for Tina, Katie and their entire family.
    I got a bit teary last night when Tina mentioned she was an adoptee. My heart goes out to her.

  3. ". And I don't have those connections in my life, not until I had her had I felt a real connection in my life. It's a pure, unadulterated, pure love I have for her." --Tina Wesson, last night on Survivor."

    That just breaks my heart. Boy, do I know what she's talking about. It's how I feel about the difference between the 'love' I get from my a-mother and the LOVE I get from my n-mother. To my n-mother I am more valuable than diamonds and rubies, I am irreplaceable, I am la princesse.

    I think if she had raised me, I would be a different person. I think my self-esteem would have been so much higher and I would have expected better treatment from people.

    It's also one of the reasons why I have been so devastated by what happened to Veronica 'Ronnie' Brown. She had that connection with her father and paternal family, and I fear that she will not have that connection with the Crapobiancos. What a cruel, cruel thing to take away from a child.


  4. 'To my n-mother I am more valuable than diamonds and rubies, I am irreplaceable...'

    Ah this warmed the cockles of my heart, Robin.

    I feel absolutely the same about my dear son, and I hope he knows this inside him, as you know it.

  5. Thank you! Our bill passing in Ohio has been a long time in coming - we've been working on this for 25 years. This year things finally came together with a team of passionate and committed sponsors, who each have their own personal connection to adoption - Senators Bill Beagle (R) and Dave Burke (R) and Representatives Dorothy Pelanda (R) and Nickie Antonio (D). We are hoping that the bill will be signed into law this week!

  6. This was todays facebook post from an agency whose mission is to seek homes for children, in state care due to neglect and abuse, who are available for adoption. Am just speechless at the lack of understanding that this woman has regarding the reason most infants in the 1970's were placed for adoption. "...sounds quite difficult" ? wow.

    Adoption Rhode Island
    Liked · November 21

    Thank you to Doula Kristen Kardos for sharing this message of love and appreciation to EVERYONE impacted by adoption.

    "Adoption Rhode Island informed me that it's National Adoption Month. Here is a picture of me, the day I was adopted, at 7 months old. I am SO thankful to my parents for the amazing home they provided me...and I'm SO thankful to all the other moms and dads out there who adopt children. I'd also like to express gratitude towards bio-moms who recognize they can't keep their babies and give them up. That decision can not be easy...and carrying a baby for 9 months only to give it away sounds quite difficult. So, THANK YOU bio-moms & adoptive parents everywhere. May you be appreciated this month and always"

  7. Just called Gov. kasichs office in support of the Ohio bill and spoke to his aide. I encourage everyone else with an Ohio connection to do so as well! Please give my son rights to his OBC!

  8. @ Earth Mother

    I think two things in particular are not clear to the general public:

    1. That thousands upon thousands of babies were adopted away from their mothers and family SOLELY as a result of the pressures applied by a moralistic society. There was NO question of abuse or neglect.

    2. That adoption often hurts the person adopted, and the mother and family who lose that child from their world.

    Reading around the Web, it's clear that people believe adoption results SOLELY from harmed children having to be removed from their abusive family of origin.

    And that doing so is SOLELY a 'Win/Win' situation - for the child and the child-seeking families they are adopted into. That these are the deserving ones.

    Or to summarise further, we mothers are being lumped in with those who abuse children, and adopted people are supposed to smile and never have a problem with being adopted.

    Somehow, we aren't being understood at large. Our experience of adoption as a distillation of a ferociously judgmental society is not being seen.

  9. Mari,
    Just heard about bill 23 at 5:00 on Monday 2/24/15. A news women in Cincinnati stated that birth parents have until March 20 to submit a redaction form if they wish to have their name removed from the OBC. My child was adopted in 1970 when I was 14. I think of my son everyday. And want my medical history shared. I'm trying to get my head around all this. Not sure yet what action if any I will take. My husband and family do not know about my adopted child. I've read the bill and printed the birth parent packet of the OJFS vital statistics website. The video was well done and informative. When watching I saw the address of the birth mother was not removed only the mothers name. I spoke to OJFS and verified that, that is correct. Since the address is shared and an easy search on the web can identify who lived at that address. I don't see the redaction process protecting the birth mothers privacy. So that really isn't an option. Understand the excitement about this bill but am saddened by the disregard for privacy. So don't be surprised when the stats come out that only a few birth mothers requested redaction. It is not a process that, as in place today, that provides privacy.



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