' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Boycott sealed record states!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Boycott sealed record states!

Money talks when it comes to social change. That's a lesson for those of us pushing for legislation allowing adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificate need to learn.

We can see this from the brouhaha over the Indiana and Arkansas "Religious Freedom Restoration" Acts.* Aside from Apple's gay CEO, Tim Cook, I suspect the major businesses threatening to boycott these states, NCCA, Walmart, Angie's List, etc. don't give a hoot about gay rights, but they know a public relations nightmare when they see one. Being perceived to be on the side of discrimination against gays who want to marry their loved ones doesn't fit their corporate image. And there are way more gays and their supporters than "Christians" who fear damnation from providing flowers to a same-sex wedding.

American Adoption Congress' 2015 conference was held last weekend in sealed-record state of Massachusetts. It's holding the 2016 conference in Denver, an improvement--but not optimum. Colorado's open-records law, effective next January, contains a provision allowing natural mothers to veto disclosure of their names on the birth certificate.

Concerned United Birthparents which alternates its retreats between California and Florida needs to find other venues. It could move the California retreat north to my beautiful home state of Oregon (which also does not have a sales tax). It could relocate its Florida get-togethers to Alabama with its beautiful and less crowded beaches. The Land of Gazillion Adoptees (based in Minneapolis, thanks to the plethora of intercountry adoptees who ended up there) could switch its fundraisers from closed-records Minnesota to adoptee friendly Kansas which also has, well, sunflowers. FYI--Kansas never sealed adoptee birth records.

Calling for boycotting states which have laws contrary to one's values is not new. The National Organization for Women did this in the 1970's asking supporters not to hold conferences in states which refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. While the ERA ultimately failed, this and other efforts dramatically changed laws and social customs. Today women have far more opportunities than they did forty years ago. If you don't believe me, watch a few episodes of Mad Men.

In other words, reformers, put your money where your mouth is! And of course let the legislators in the boycotted states know what you're doing and why.--jane

*Contrary to what supporters of these laws claim, they have a vastly different purpose from the same-named federal law of 1993. That law made it clear that states should accommodate religious beliefs such as allowing native Americans to ingest peyote. The Indiana and Arkansas laws are clearly attempts to allow businesses to deny services to gay couples--no matter what the governor and legislators who are willing to go on television claim. Most of them are running for cover. CNN the other day wasn't able to get anyone to defend the law other than someone from the Family Research Council, which is devoted to preventing same-sex marriage.

Indiana Law: Sorting Fact from Fiction
American Adoption Congress
Concerned United Birthparents
Land of Gazillion Adoptees

From FMF:
Gays have political clout; bastards don't. Lessons from New Jersey and New York
While gay marriage is the talk, how about adoptee rights?
How are gay marriage and adoptee rights connected?


When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
"Did feminism fail? Gail Collins's smart, thorough, often droll and extremely readable account of women's recent history in America not only answers this question brilliantly, but also poses new ones about the past and the present."—Amy BloomThe New York Times Book Review 

"Until now, the second wave women's movement hasn't had its big ambitious history--the equivalent to Taylor Branch's multivolume narrative of the civil rights movement....nothing as sweeping and accessible as this."Margaret TalbotSlate.com's "Double X"

It's a great read. --Us.



  1. I agree 100% with the money angle. Do you think that conferences in non-friendly states can raise awareness by their presence? Press coverage, etc., or is it just a blip on the screen in between other news stories? Really I'm curious.

  2. At first I thought this was an April Fool's Day spoof, as they are all over the internet today, and even my son had me fooled with his blog until I realized what day it was. Adoption reform and its conferences are much too small to even be a blip on the screen no matter where they are, and this kind of boycott would mean nothing except in some cases inconvenience for those wishing to attend. A conference in Alabama, seriously?? Conference attendance is dwindling, and even at its height I don't think ever had more than 500 people. I heard that the latest AAC had less than 200, and CUB gets around 50. Not exactly huge groups of thousands that any state would count as a loss if boycotted.

    Having been on conference planning committees, it is hard enough to get something near enough a major airport so most people do not have to change planes, or travel for hours once they arrive, a pleasant setting, and cheap enough that folks can afford it while not being a dump, You also need enough local members of the organization on site to plan and make connections, plus other practical considerations. The whole of adoption reform does not have or spend enough money on even the biggest conferences for a boycott to matter to the state's economy or pose any sort of threat.. We are not Walmart or any other huge corporation whose boycott would be taken seriously because big bucks are involved, and we are not gay rights with enough people who care and could make a dent this way. This is not an idea suited to the scope and reality of adoption reform conferences or organizations.

    1. No conference is too small where Chambers of Commerce are concerned. And if AAC, CUB Gazillion adoptees made it a campaign, bigger organizations might follow suit. After all, Apple had an adoptee as a CEO before it got the gay CEO. Surely other major businesses have adoptees and first parents at the helm as well..

      If conferences had an additional purpose, like demonstrating in support ofr adoptee rights, they would attract more participants.

      As for out of the way places -- CUB's conferences are many miles from major airports, requiring long taxi or van rides and adding to the expense.of attending.

      Portland, Oregon is not an out of the way place and has several devoted CUB members who would help with a conference. A Kansan dedicated to adoption reform whose picture appears on the CUB website would surely help put together a conference in the Sunflower state.

      As for Alabama, inexpensive and attractive resorts are near Mobile, a major city. I'm sure some southern bastards would be delighted to show off their state.

      Although Illinois is a compromise state allowing first mother vetoes, it is better than Florida and CA. Chicago has two major airports..

      The trouble is, maryanne, you folks from the east coast think civilization ends at the Hudson River and doesn't reappear until you hit California.

      It's absurd that CUB, et al would patronize states whose legislators believe mothers need protection from their offspring..

      I note too that Florida and California, as well as Utah, are the home states of the most corrupt of the adoption industry.

    2. Whoa! Ms. Edwards! I protest your idea of us Easterners thinking that civilization ends at the Hudson! As a girl from the Midwest, I know that Chicago is a great place! Even I have fondness for Detroit and the Art Institute there though Michigan right now is run by dunderheads who never met a pro-adoption law they didn't like.

    3. There is something to be said for having the conferences in a state still struggling to open records, such as MA where the recent AAC was. There was a big push at the conference to encourage the local groups in MA that are trying to fix bad legislation there, and also CT that has some legislation introduced. Helping those still struggling to change is another way to look at the issue of where to hold a conference.

    4. maryanne, that's what i was kinda thinking..

  3. Having the conferences and retreats in states that were fully open and advertising the fact would give those of us who have been plugging away at this an emotional lift. I saw a list of companies and products made or based in Indiana almost immediately after the legislators passed the stupid law and then I saw this head at HuffPo:Here Are 17 Major Companies Protesting States' New Anti-Gay Laws

    Can you imagine if this idea went beyond where to hold a conference and expanded to adoptees boycotting businesses and products emerging states that are totally backwards in regards to sealed records. Opps, we got a problem--that would include MOST states.

    Still, it would be great to see adopted people and natural parents saying--here's why we aren't buying...and boycotting and trumpeting that everywhere.

    1. 200 people at the AAC conference? I am surprised. Maybe it was the idea of snow?

    2. That's what I heard but I am not a numbers person. You would have to ask AAC for an accurate count. There have been many recent shakeups in their board resulting in lots of hard feelings, that may also be an issue. Luckily I no longer know any of the players personally and have no clue what went on, but at the town meeting there were questions about what happened and demand for more openness on the part of their board, and more attention to the history of the board of AAC which has always been a mess no matter who is on it.

      In general I thought it was a good conference, with only two presenters I really did not like, one a female adoptee "comedian" whose act was shrill, not funny, disturbing and went on way too long, and the other a man who is a preacher and professor who was just awful. He got his little son up there, a kid about age 6 who looked terrified, and asked him catechism type questions about God! The poor child was obviously scripted. His young wife, a former grad student of the man who looked to be in his 60s or older, was also there, and he said awful things in front of wife and child, his story as an abused in-family adoptee was incoherent, and his constant religious preaching not appropriate to the venue. He also made reference to wanting to do violence, in great and scary detail. I have no idea who invited him, but many people were offended and walked out. Others loved him. Take all kinds.

    3. OK, that's just creepy.

    4. Yes, it was very creepy. If anyone wants google him his name is Dr. Nicholas Cooper-Lewter, but nothing on google I saw gives the feeling of the terrible presentation he gave. I felt so terrible for his little boy, whom he held up like a ventriloquist's dummy and had him recite. As a mom, it really upset me. He had the whole rousing Southern Preacher style, but his story made little sense and he came across as egotistical and manipulative, not to mention abusive of his family. I don't know how AAC selects their keynotes, but someone was not doing a diligent job of checking them out. The others were all excellent, but he was scary and out of line.

    5. He was a keynoter? That is bizarre.

      And yes, we have heard of the myriad problems with the board of AAC.

  4. Jane, I love this! What if you made your boycott call more pervasive? What if you asked PAPs to only adopt from states with open record laws? What if conferences for adoptive parents did the same?

    Some day, those PAPs and APs are gonna have kids who will want those records. And imagine the conversation and education that would follow if at least some PAPs and APs agitated for open records among their own!

    1. Brilliant! Pressure adoptive parents and the adoption industry to boycott sealed record states. Now we're talking about oodles of money and publicity. Of course some in the industry would balk but then they could be targeted. The thing about boycotts is that they can become THE thing. Everyone wants to join the crowd.

      It would be great if someone would take this on. Ideally, it would be an adoptee organization.

    2. I would be willing to create an infographic/meme or more than one if one of the women here who have the hard data would care to write a little blurb and give me some stats - someone who can help me develop the message(s). I can do the graphics in other words. I can distribute it to some key people on Facebook and let it roll, as anyone here could do too (without having to post it to your own Facebook if you like, of course.) The graphic needn't be associated with an organization, or even an author (i know that's strange) but citing sources for data is a really good idea if you wanna be taken seriously.

      Maybe not quite the front you were hoping for but don't underestimate Facebook. It reaches a LOT of women my age and younger - 40s and 30s - who might be considering adoption. It should be particularly effective during National Adoption Day and Month. any takers? we could even target specific states if so desired... interested parties please let me know we have plenty of time before November but i cannot do it alone. :)

    3. Kaisa, I'm not clear. An infographic/meme for a boycott? What stats do you need? The FMF Resources page on the right hand side bar lists the states that allow adoptee access to their original birth certificates.

    4. ok.. that's a good start. that data creates a pretty basic infographic that is clear; i'm not sure of the emotional impact of a map alone. Jane, if you or another person are willing to provide feedback and work with me then i will do it. i'm not an activist but i have design experience and have written copy for businesses but not activism.

      a map of states is a good start... but with some brainstorming i'm sure some other ideas worth conveying will surface - something with more emotion. ie., something that makes the usa look bad compared to other countries in this regard (australian prime minister?). ie., something that makes a particular state look bad by comparison to another state. something that riles people up is the way to go. even using photos of public figures is on par, if you think a meme is a good idea, and the message is appropriate. i seem to see a non-stop glut of memes with Bernie Sanders these days for example, with quotes from him. Quotes can be good.

      i will give it some thought but like i said i need at least one or two people to commit to being available to give me feedback and/or ideas because i am not an activist. any marketing skills i have aren't really in that area and i am new to thinking about adoption rights? my head has not been in this space very long! but i agree with the messages that you have on this website and have for as long as i can remember, so i'd like to do my part. thanks :)

    5. Kasia, I'm totally not understanding where you are going. I assumed it was to encourage organizations to boycott sealed record states. The only other relevant data would be the number of adoptees who have obtained their OBCs and the number of first mothers who have asked they remain sealed in the states that allow first mother vetoes. Why would the Australian apology be relevant? I don't know what a meme is.

      Anyone out there willing to help?

    6. A meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem] is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

    7. I am clueless about this discussion. Kasia asks if I think a meme is a good idea. Is the meme (idea) open records? Yes, I think it is is good idea. Or is the meme a picture?

    8. My understanding of what Kaisa wants to help you do is to create a vivid, attention-getting graphic/slogan around the cause of open records and honesty in adoption that would be widely distributed around the internet to get the concept out there as an "everyone knows that" idea. Internet memes can be true(dangers of smoking) or neutral (pics of cats:-)or they can sometimes be false and harmful.(anti-vaccination). We want to get something true and positive out there for adoption reform and adoptee rights, and someone like Kaisa with a marketing background could be a big help in doing this in a way that gets it seen and distributed.

      Kaisa, please respond and explain, but I think you meant this as something general, not about a boycott which is a negative concept but more around the idea of the injustices that exist in adoption and the need for legislation to fix some of those injustices.

    9. hello.. maryanne yes you are on target. I'm sorry that i have been unclear. Memes are pictures, infographics or videos that go 'viral' on the internet. for social causes, pictures and infographics work best on Facebook.

      Facebook is a wonderful place for promoting social causes and i think what works best is a combination of both memes and infographics. imho i think it is important to have a concise objective, and in this case, it would be to promote support of OBCs by exposing the states that do not have OBCs, exposing problems that exist on a national level, and showing what that means to the individuals affected; to be successful we need to reach an audience that is unfamiliar with these ideas but which consists of a large population of people likely to be sympathetic and helpful - this is Facebook. so at once the propagation of a meme promotes awareness and sympathy and in best case scenarios also support (for OBCs.)

      I have not seen any memes or infographics from the 'opposition' and i think there is the opportunity to get a real foothold.

      Maybe think about the differences between the gay marriage movement and the occupy/99% movement in terms of memes and infographics that you've seen. The gay marriage movement in recent years has been just that, focused on 'gay marriage' and not any other objective, whereas the occupy movement's objective is more vague and diffuse: gentrification, minimum wage, foreclosures, banking abuses, wall street - they cannot get a groundswell because it's just too complicated. I would judge the gay marriage memes to be much more successful over all, than the 99% memes, which contain too many messages and no clear objective other than 'fairness' - and many 99%-ers disagree with the nuts and bolts of this or that message instead of joining together for a common cause. we don't want to create that dissidence in our meme, we want a simple 'for' or 'against' to emerge (hopefully if we do it right there will be a sizable amount of 'fors' but it needn't be the majority).

    10. part two

      despite the clear objective when you see gay marriage memes/infographics they do not merely show the states which are currently 'for' and 'against.' Instead the messages are meant to draw sympathy, indignation and outrage, and after having done so, then you are instructed as to how to get involved or what to do about it (ie., vote.) they have a bit of depth, or layers. This is the part i need help developing by having a dialog/feedback with one or two OBC activists.

      In the case of OBCs we would promote the idea/instruct prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to adopt only in states that allow OBCs. If we are successful in circulating the memes, then non-PAPs would help the cause by placing pressure on the PAPs to do just that - adopt in OBC states. Imagine, one woman confiding to another over coffee, that she and her husband are looking into adoption, and her friend pipes up, "but not here in California, right, i mean you're going to Oregon, right, so that your baby can have an OBC. I just think closed adoption is so wrong I mean it is totally unfair to the child and the first parents." Imagine that she got this message and awareness from the internet, from your meme, from Facebook. Imagine enough of this happens that adopters get sick of it and enough of them become supporters of OBCs even in their own closed bc state - and suddenly it is out with the old and in with the new, CUB(?) or another group who is doing the actual work of changing the laws working with legislators, etc., writes the new laws and they are passed because of public awareness and support.

      Ok that is clearly best-case scenario but that is what i'm talking about, making memes focused on delivering the message about OBCs. Facebook is a great place for memes because there is no 'dislike' button. There is no 'unshare' button. Catchy memes spread like wildfire and if you have a friend in your feed who has liked or shared a meme it will show up in your feed whether you want it to or not. You can leave a disagreeable comment but it's going to get backlash. A lot of people feel moved to promote social causes on facebook because it is easy, all they have to do is 'share' a meme someone else made. Anyway i could go on and on about it but i will shut up now. :)

    11. Kasia, Yes, yes, and yes. Go for it! A specific focused effort is the way to go. Readers, especially you adoptees, are you willing to help?


    12. Fully agree with Jane on this, and a focused effort is the way to go. Although I am not on Facebook for personal reasons, I am aware of what a great tool it is to get a message out today. I would be glad to help in any way I can without being on Facebook myself. Your energy and enthusiasm to take this on is so appreciated.

      CUB does not write laws nor lobby as a group but we do support open records for adopted adults and individual state effforts. AAC is more actively involved with legislation, and both CUB and AAC have Facebook pages you can interact with.
      Kaisa, not sure if you know this but all adoption records laws are state laws and must be changed one state at a time, just as they were sealed one state at a time. What state are you in, or were you adopted from? AAC has a list of state groups on their webpage, perhaps on their Facebook page as well. I would suggest you join the local groups in the state where you live and where you were adopted, if it is another state, to learn about grass roots activism going on there, This will give your more feedback to come up with a meme and let you know what has already been tried in a given state.

  5. I don't see any reason to knock this idea before it's even been tried. I think it would be particularly effective in my home state of Florida. Florida is more like the thunder and lightening state when it comes to adoptee rights. Just like that popular song says, "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone."

  6. One thing I noticed (from my point of view only) is that the organizations claiming to be promoting adoptee rights and for natural parents, is that I don't see that from them. I took my name off the natural parents for open records list a year and a half ago (I think). I told them I had more than a few problems with that organization. When listening to their cds I could only wonder why the natural parent ones were so poorly recorded... adoptive parent cds ... no problem with hearing any of their stuff. It all came through loud and clear. I had to ramp the volume all the way up on many of the natural parent cds... why? I don't know. Their ''mission'' statement bothered me to no end with one particular statement (generally worded here) about making all kinds of families 'acceptable' or some such ..they have moved that one point of their ''mission'' statement up in line to number 2 I think. I should go and check but I'm pressed for time. I brought up to someone how after all these years of being ''for reform'' truly very, very little has changed and I also brought up that there needs to be a strongly formed organization of natural parents (and adoptees) for reform with out the influences (until a later time) of adoptive parents. I know their are adoptive parents and social workers who are more than 'on board' with reform... however, many of them still do not want to see adoption practices moved to family preservation, they do not want ''the end of adoption as a way to create a family'' instead of being for sole benefit of a child. They appear to want to glorify adoption and I was not going to be associated with folks who promoted adoption as a way to make a family. Can't do it. Maybe that is where part of their ''shake-up'' is rooted at.

    I feel that the way these organizations limit themselves to only a small handful of states is cutting out a lot of people who might actually attend if it wasn't so bloomin far away or in (to many of us) in such ghastly places (re traffic, etc.). How about doing a rotation, a different state each year? and maybe stay out of the states with such a pro adoption stance and some with the worst laws on the books. Me thinks they stay where they are ''sure of support''...? or will be sure to have the most suppression of information and coverage... ? I also asked would the slaves (people controlled and suppressed and abused) have ''joined up'' with slaveholders (those who benefit from the practice and want it to continue) to abolish or as in the practice of adoption .. to make MAJOR reforms? Any way, just some thoughts from one of the less trusting. I apologize for any offense caused by using slavery as a comparison. It is not ment to minimize the atrocities suffered by those enslaved in this nation. There are all kinds of abuses and mental abuse is, in fact, right up there with physical abuse and cruelty. It's different but it can be as or more damaging as physical... because it damages the essential makeup of a human being.

    Here's something to use if anyone or everyone cares to run with it. This I wrote when in the midst of searching and stressing if my son was running into the same blasted brick walls I was... and reading about so many other parents and adoptees running into the same distressing stuff. Reading about adoptees being rebuffed at every turn even when desperately searching for a blood family member for help with a life threatening health problem ... it was just SO WRONG.

    Orphans made that are not true orphans
    Endless Tears

    Always grieving
    Denial of truth
    Openness forbidden
    Truth is shunned
    Ongoing loss
    Not knowing

    'nuf said. I'm outta here.



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