' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: ADOPTEE RIGHTS BILL PASSES IN NY!!!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

ADOPTEE RIGHTS BILL PASSES IN NY!!!!!

Lorraine 
UPDATED 11 P.M. JUNE 21, 2019
Adoptee right bill passed!!!!!!!!
The vote in the Assembly was 140-6.
(Final vote; 4 abstentions.)
Senate voted last week, 56-6.

Many of the people we expected to vote against it folded, and two who had been our staunch opposition in the past spoke about changing their minds. Joe Lentol, for one, who had held up the bill in the past, as he is chair of Codes. Yesterday, however, when Codes passed it, he voted for it then, and spoke today on the floor passionately and eloquently about having his mind changed.

Assemblywoman Debra Glick did the same. In the past, she always spoke of birth mother privacy, but her tune was different today, about how times had changed. I couldn't believe it. Even Danny O'Donnell, who we have excoriated in the past for his attitude when we lobbied him, in the end voted Aye for the bill. Totally surprising!



Daughter Jane and Lorraine
It began with Democrat David Weprin, who got up an explained the bill. He has sponsored a bill for unsealing records since 2011, taking over the cause, he noted, from others before him. Following Weprin was a Republican, Andy Goodell, speaker of the minority, who spoke at length against the bill. Birth mother privacy, promises made to birth mothers, the incredibly ineffective registry, yadda yadda yadda.... When Weprin was asked if there was a veto exception for birth mothers, I loved that he just said: No, it does not. No explanation. Just, No, it does not. Brilliant. Let the antis go on about why they are in favor of one.

I was wondering if we were going to hear from Helene Weinstein, who had just spoken about one of her own bills so I knew she was there...but NO!

Then began a number of speakers for the bill, including those above and three adoptees: Pamela Hunter, incredibly passionate and emotional, who is still waiting for her information from the state, after sending in her money to the state registry; Monica Wallace, whose desire to find her biological parents became critical when she began thinking about having children herself and wanted to know her medical history; and Carmen de la Rosa, who was born and adopted in the Dominican Republic and was able to find her siblings because she had a piece of paper with her natural mother's name on it. "Sometimes you can be in a roomful of people and still feel like no one is with you when you don't know where you come from," she said. That sums up a whole lot.

Chief sponsors of Adoptee Right bill, Sen. Velmanette Montgomery,
Assemblyman David Weprin, Carol Schaefer in rear, and Lorraine
Dusky at press conference for bill on steps of City Hall a few years ago.
Adoptive more Didi Barrett spoke how sad it was that her child, adopted from Russia in 1992, would never be able to find her family. Republicans commended David Weprin for shepherding this bill with tenacity, and I salute him. Joe Lentol, mentioned above, an unexpected supporter, spoke with conviction about his change of heart. Richard Gottfried, who chaired the first hearing I spoke at in 1976 in Albany, spoke, as did my own assemblyman, Fred Thiele. Fred said he was not personally involved and then gave me a huge shout out to me for bringing him along on this issue, and noting that I was a birth mother--the other side of the coin. Fred has been a stalwart champion of the issue for years, and always kept me apprised of what was going on, and through this we became friends. And was I imagining it, or were both he and Lentol teary-eyed when they spoke? There were others, most with personal stories--a friend was adopted, I inherited the seat of someone who supported this for years, et cetera--and you can watch it all below on the video.

I was sitting in the kitchen, watching it on television, messaging The Good Adoptee playwright Suzanne Bachner in the middle of it, posting on Facebook that it was on, crying, holding my husband's hand, who was also teary--I was really crying at times, not just teary, and then the immediate vote. At first it appeared to be 126-2, then 127-2, but the next day when the final votes were in, it was 140-6. There are 150 assembly persons, so four did not register a vote.

Florence Fisher and her father
I have been praying for this day since I signed the relinquishment papers, April something, 1966. I remember reading a piece by Enid Nemy in the New York Times on July 25. 1972 about Florence Fisher, who had started ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association). The piece was headlined: "Adopted Children Who Wonder, What Was Mother Like?" Reading the piece, learning that adoptees did want to know where they came from, I felt less alone from that day on, and I took what ability I have and put it to use in this cause. The 1936 law that this new law overturns is archaic, outdated, cruel, unjust, prima facie absurd, immoral--there is so much wrong with the sealed-records law in any state where it still stands--that I could list all the noxious synonyms in Roget's International Thesaurus and they would all suit.

New York was the closest to my heart, of course--it's where I lost my daughter and where I still live today--but the issue is larger than one state. There are others to go, but with a huge state like New York finally doing the right thing, can the others be too far behind?

Out to dinner with friends tonight, my eyes still slightly burning from the tears, but tears of joy. Peace and love and gratitude in my heart for every vote, every person who has lifted a phone to make a call in support, every person who wrote a letter, an email, a fax. Kudos to Joyce Bahr, who has worked tirelessly for this day to come, and Adam Pertman who has always been a staunch supporter, and Annette Marie O'Connell and Megan Mary DePerro and Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, and Tim Monti-Wohlpart, and everybody in Unsealed Initiative and New York Adoptee Rights Coalition and the rest!

The bill, A5494/S3419, now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature. We have good reason to believe he also wants to be on the right side of history, and will sign the bill in law. As of January 15, 2020, adopted people in New York will have the right to a copy of their unamended birth certificate for the first time in 83 years.

We did it! The rest of the closed or "semi-open" states look out. The tyranny of closed birth records of adoptees is falling. Freedom for adoptees is coming.--lorraine
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Want to watch the hearing? Grab a tissue, for here it is:

http://nystateassembly.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=5185&meta_id=94776&fbclid=IwAR0yTXk4GIP986AD4o5rA5uS0uBwS8h9QJEn8FCRp8Y_e16w-8a0DBStmUc


From the New York Times:
Adopted Children Who Wonder, ‘What Was Mother Like?’

36 comments :

  1. Congratulation to you and all the other folks who worked so hard for this day for 45+ years. The impact of this legislation will go well beyond New York.

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    1. I second these congratulations.

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  2. Way to go! It has been a long time coming... I have been waiting for this day all my life!

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  3. Yes, Lorraine, this "old timer"also had tears of joy. While it has been a long & tedious road since we began the struggle back in the 70's,today we can finally celebrate!

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  4. Congratulations on getting this bill passed! I can only hope and pray that other states such as Florida which, is my state will follow NY's lead and pass laws to open obc's up to adoptees. Surely these legislators must know that DNA testing has opened a lot of doors and secrets are spilling out of closets every where. No adoptee should have to go to the tome and expense to find their birth right.
    Again congrats!

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  5. Crying with joy over here in the UK.

    I wrote in too, trying to help demolish the myth that first mothers wanted privacy, and reiterating what a human rights violation it was for adoptees to have such vital information withheld.

    I think of Julia Emily today.

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  6. Crying with joy over here in the UK.

    I wrote in too, trying to help demolish the myth that first mothers wanted privacy, and reiterating what a human rights violation it was for adoptees to have such vital information withheld.

    I think of Julia Emily today.

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  7. I can't believe I survived long enough to get my own birth certificate!! I will be 57 when the law goes into effect, and you can bet your booties that I'll be outside vital records on the morning this goes into effect!

    Of course, I'm still not a member of either family. just because I have a piece of paper, does not mean I'll ever be invited to a family wedding, or see any babies that are born.

    It's still a great victory, and I'm very happy!

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  8. Congratulations Lorraine on the awesome victory in NY. I know you poured a lot of energy and passion into this. Wish I could be there to celebrate with you and New York adoptees. Looking forward to future blog posts as the discussions continue.

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  9. Let me add, we've had some major victories here in Illinois with passage of the most comprehensive abortion rights legislation in the country. Adoptees won the right to their birth certificates here several years ago.
    But I believe New York's about-to-become-law legislation is more comprehensive than ours. Also victory on the the environmental front with legal action against coal ash polluters. And there have been fiscal victories here as well. Amazing what a democratic majority and a good governor can achieve. But as we both know, major victories aren’t won without the mass of activism that goes into setting a solid foundation to make it possible.

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  10. Adding one more heartfelt congratulations to Lorraine and everyone who worked so hard for so many years for this victory. Being "tenacious" as Pam Hasegawa always says has finally paid off! Good news for NY adoptees and all of us.

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  11. I'm so happy for all adoptees and their descendants who can now get more answers. I have 2 cousins who have been waiting for this day! Congrats and Thank You to all who worked tirelessly toward this day!

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  12. So excited for my husband to finally find his father's origins. We have some DNA results but this will give him the complete picture.

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  13. I am so happy for those affected directly and indirectly! I hope this is one huge domino that leads to a bunch more states becoming open.

    Congrats to you and the others, Lorraine, for always working hard and never letting up.

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  14. Dear Lorraine,
    You are a true warrior! 43 years in the battle for good. Thank you, thank you, thank you. When the battle comes to Nevada, in your honor, I will round up as many adoptive parents and convince them to support this for their grown up adoptees.

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  15. WOW!!! Finally, it is about time! I'm choking back tears here (I'm from NY). Congrats to those who worked so hard for this. Thank you Lorraine for being such a champion for civil rights.

    Michelle

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  16. What a great headline to read, on returning to this blog! It seemed like we would never see this happen, and I'm so glad it has. Lorraine, you and so many others have done so much to help so many people. Really really happy today.

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  17. Great to hear that, but I wonder, any hope for an OBC reinstatement follow up law in New York?

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    1. What are you talking about?
      Adoptees will now get a copy of their OBC in New York. Well, as of January 15, 2020.

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    2. Lo, I think that perhaps Theodore is just saying/asking if there would by any possibility of actually restoring the OBC as the actual legal, and only true birth certificate. There have been adoptees and others, for example, some adoptees' descendants who have suggested that amended BCs should be eliminated and replaced with the OBC.
      Theodore, if I misunderstood you, I apologize.

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    3. Yes, Kitta got my meaning, just on request of the adopted adult person, of course. It should give the pre-adoption identity back and thus annul the adoption, just as a mere side-effect.

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  18. In January all those adopted in NYS will finally be treated as equals with other citizens. Their basic human rights will be restored. As a birth mother for over 40 years, I wondered how my son lost to adoption fared in life. It has been a long hard fight to bring about JUSTICE in NYS. Thanks are due to everyone who worked diligently against such strong odds. to achieve this! Jill

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  19. In January all those adopted in NYS will finally be treated as equals with other citizens. Their basic human rights will be restored. As a birth mother for over 40 years, I wondered how my son lost to adoption fared in life. It has been a long hard fight to bring about JUSTICE in NYS. Thanks are due to everyone who worked diligently against such strong odds. to achieve this! Jill

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  20. This is wonderful news, and long overdue. I know how much hell all involved have been through to get a clean open records bill in NY. I hope Herbert Lehman is rolling over in his grave LOL. PLEASE though people, the records need badly to be opened in Florida next. Signing the bill to close them was also done by an adopter Rueben Askew who was Governor in 1977.
    From Wiki:
    "Askew married Donna Lou Harper in August 1956.[4] He proposed to her two weeks after the first date, and they married five months after. By all accounts, the two enjoyed a very happy marriage, and unlike his father, Askew remained faithful to her.[7] They had two adopted children; a daughter and a son".
    So much for birth mother privacy huh? Closing them that late?
    Adoptees and first mothers in Florida are also being lied too from many agencies, especially the Children's Home Society & this abuse has to end. This agency is God awful and reminiscent of the maternity prisons of old. Reform is greatly needed in Florida and we need to start hounding legislators there ASAP.
    Congrats to all NY adoptees and their moms!

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  21. I may be the minority here, I was adopted and have not desire to go looking. My parents are the ones who raised me.

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    1. I felt the same way but after both my parents passed I wanted to know.it took years after but I actively pursued it 5months ago..

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    2. And did you find any of your bio family?

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    3. Unknown~ Whether or not you ever decide to search is a personal decision. But it should be your choice, not one cut off by a law passed in a different time, when secrecy was the norm and expected of all adoptees. But a law should never had taken away your right--or that of any adopted person who feels differently, has a medical need, or is simply just wants to know--so while you are free to say "I don't care" aren't you at least somewhat gratified that now the choice is yours? I see this new law as breaking the old chains of adoption, just as emancipation freed slaves. Adoptees will be emancipated from secrecy they neither asked for or wanted.

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    4. I found birth mom of course within a week after law passed.DNA works.With help from by a adoption registry and adoptive cousin Jennifers cousin..

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  22. So, Inquiring minds want to know. Did the Governor sign the bill yet?

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  23. No. But we are told not to worry. The legislature passed more than 900 bills this session--a changing of the guard in the legislature, with Dems now in control of both houses--and hundreds of bills that had been held up by the Republicans were passed. They go to Gov. Cuomo in packages, and we do not have a word about when ours will be send, or signed. He has until the end of the year. We wish he would sign, but we are not worried yet.

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    1. That's what I heard in june .Has to end of year.I was so excited in end of june and all it took was 8 days in my life before it didn't matter one bit.one of reasons why it passed came true with me.DNA found my birthmom first week in July .Took me 3months but thanx to adoption registry and my adoptive cousins cousin case closed on birthmom.

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    2. Until his signature is on it it's not.

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