The (Sometimes) Ugly Politics of Adoptee Rights

By Gregory D. Luce on March 16, 2016 — 7 mins read

I just came out of a rabbit hole labeled adoptee rights. If you are relatively new to adoption politics, as I am, it’s not exactly a pleasant burrow to be in. Despite obvious common interests among us, the politics of adoptee rights can sometimes get nasty fast and, unfortunately, the nastiness exists among and between mothers and adoptees. Take Missouri.

Missouri Adoptee Rights Movement, or MARM, has been working for years to pass a “clean” original birth certificate bill in the Missouri legislature. It succeeded this year in introducing such a bill, and you can see the current text of the bill here. When it was initially drafted and introduced, House Bill 1599 gave adult adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates. That’s clean, unrestricted, no real limitations. And that’s good.

But, during the committee process at the legislature, a competing bill, known now by most folks as a “dirty” bill, added significant restrictions to access, essentially giving the birth parents—who may have surrendered their child decades ago—a veto power over releasing an adoptee’s original birth certificate. That’s bad, this veto power over disclosure of basic information. In reality, though, it would probably affect a small number of Missouri adoptees, about one percent or less.

Ultimately, and this is how it apparently works in Missouri, the clean bill came out of a legislative committee with all the muck of the dirty bill merged into it. MARM continues to support the bill and presumably has hopes that the veto restrictions will be removed or amended as part of the ongoing legislative process. But, as people began to ask and complain, is it now a dirty bill? A compromised bill? Something else? And then political infighting broke out.

An “action alert” shot out of California, followed by one from Bastard Nation. According to MARM, the alerts—which asked supporters to email and tweet every Missouri legislator to request they kill this new compromise bill—pretty much mucked up a process that MARM was already following and trying to coordinate. MARM accused Bastard Nation of interfering with its local efforts, and Bastard Nation responded with, well, vitriol, blame-gaming, name-calling, and righteousness about leaving a small number of adult adoptees behind despite many more Missouri adoptees benefitting. Angry adoptees and others lashed back at Bastard Nation (but not CalOpen for some reason). They questioned and lampooned Bastard Nation’s “purity” in staking out an “all or nothing” approach to adoptees getting their original birth certificates. Who was right? Depends on your politics. And your perspective.

And I still had some basic questions.

Like, why did CalOpen, the California open records access organization, send out an action alert for a Missouri bill? Why do that without, it appears, at least consulting with MARM, the local group spearheading its own locally-supported open records initiative? Similarly, did Bastard Nation contact MARM to find out what was happening on the ground, i.e., in the halls and in discussions among Missouri legislators and MARM supporters? Is this the best bill that can be passed currently, leaving some behind (i.e., vetoed by birth parents from getting original birth certificates) for the benefit of a much larger majority (those without a veto who get their original birth certificates)?

I ask all of these questions honestly. I hope that MARM or CalOpen or Bastard Nation can answer these questions, and answer another honest question: who is providing grassroots support on the ground, that is, who are the folks in the state of Missouri showing up and advocating and trying their best to do what Missourians want? That has to be asked and answered to get a full understanding of what appears to have gone wrong, at least initially.

I “get” Bastard Nation. And then I don’t. I get the humor and the re-appropriation of our bastardy. I love that, it’s what attracted me to the group initially. I also get the hardass politics and the bright-line demand to include everyone, all adult adoptees, in obtaining original birth certificates, free of any restrictions. And I get that there is no right to privacy or secrecy or anonymity for birth mothers on original birth certificates, even those in the olden days of the 1950s and 1960s, when unwed pregnant women, mostly white women, may have been falsely promised confidentiality or secrecy. That promise and other promises were all false, coercive, unenforceable by law, and not something that could even be promised in the first place. I get that.

But I don’t get Bastard Nation’s vitriol and tactics. The slash and burn politics. The flailing divisiveness. And I think it’s fair to ask Bastard Nation about those tactics, to criticize them even, without getting publicly slammed or excoriated or reduced to, well, whatever adoption-related group that Bastard Nation believes you represent, if you represent any at all (which I don’t).

For its argument for unrestricted access, which I also get, Bastard Nation strips all nuance and context from the issue of obtaining original birth certificates so that nothing is left except the purity of a right. Nothing. Just a piece of paper, all context removed.

It’s a beautiful binary matter, this right to one’s identity, and I get that. And it does not matter, according to Bastard Nation, if you want that piece of paper to find your mother. Or if you want that piece of paper for medical reasons. Or if you want that piece of paper before you die. Or, heaven forbid, if a mother wants her son to have that piece of paper. For Bastard Nation, all of those reasons are irrelevant because a right to possess that piece of paper is the sole and exclusive thing that matters—a right, it bears to point out, that no court has recognized as constitutional. I actually get that too, and I expect Bastard Nation would agree with what I just said.

But a significant practical problem remains—it is a sealed and confidential piece of paper without a broad context. Stripped of motivation and divorced of human need or context, Bastard Nation disengages those of different ilk or of separate motivation who want the same thing—that piece of paper. It follows that, and this is fully expected, that Bastard Nation would criticize what it calls the “woundies” (adoptees who adhere to Nancy Verrier’s Primal Wound theory of adoption), the “reunionists” (adoptees who want to find their parents), the “dying adoptees” (those who may die before they get their original birth certificates), or the “deformers” (basically, anyone who considers compromise on this issue). Bastard Nation has done this—criticize every adoption reform group except itself and two others— and has done it quite vehemently and, I might add, childishly at times (e.g., its leaders now suddenly call MARM, the Missouri group who worked for years to get a clean bill, “SMARM,” for reasons I don’t precisely understand other than it makes them giggle).

When you reduce the issue of open records for adoptees to the binary purity of a right—either yes or no, with us or against us—it enables you to diminish any adoptee who contextualizes that right—that is, contextualizes the original birth certificate. Desire, a human emotion, is futile, meaningless, something that apparently weakens the purity of an argument or position. Bastard Nation says that. It says that those who disagree with it are “more concerned with individual personal desire over the politics of class discrimination.” True enough. But desire motivates, excites, builds momentum, especially if it can be successfully coalesced. Sure, desire or motivation may be irrelevant (that is, adoptees should simply have a right to our damn original birth certificates without any restrictions, as everyone else already does) but dismissing it as emotional touchy-feely stuff only diminishes those who can help build and be part of a movement. And what’s lost then is the ability to move forward against true opponents, whether as a coalition or as allies or even as an organization that understands strategically when to withdraw support rather than turn destructively inward against others. When the sole political strategy is the purity of an adoptee’s right to an identity and nothing else, compromise and nuance is obviously impossible.

I may be wrong about this, but I bet that, among MARM’s supporters and organizers, there are adult adoptees who, if the Missouri legislature passes the current bill as is, will be vetoed by their birth parents and left behind. That’s the art and nature of compromise in politics, potentially going against your own self-interests to benefit others. That’s something generally Bastard Nation cannot do and, for better or worse, may make it less and less relevant as the political fight over adoptee rights to their birth certificates continues.

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  • Thank-you, Gregory, for this excellent summary of the political challenges facing the adoptee rights community. I agree with your analysis of the the political realities. You also pierce the contempt and vitriol of Bastard Nation’s rhetoric and reach down to the painful realities underlying compromise litigation. We are in a Schindler’s List situation. Who shall we save? Who has the right to speak? And how can we not lose our humanity as we grapple with these difficult moral dilemmas. Thank-you for adding your reasoned voice to the conversation.

  • You have presented a well thought out editorial piece. I, too, wish we could work together without all the nastiness. What I find missing in your comments is the fact that adoptees are not operating in a vacuum within the states. You have not addressed how many adoptive parents, birth parents, relatives, legislators, lawyers, and adoption agency personnel discredit the voices of adoptees, trying to strong-arm us into becoming “good little adoptees who don’t rock the boat.” According to one legislator, “adoptees are just curious”–as if anything we say isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Bastard Nation’s position is that having our OBC is a civil right. If we talk to legislators on any of the other talking points, they roll their eyes. Helen Hill used her inheritance ($250,000) to get Measure 58 on Oregon’s ballot and to fund the advertising campaign that went with it. I am convinced that if it were brought to a vote in every state, with that kind of advertising coverage, we would all be able to get our OBCs. The question becomes-how do we get around the groups who lobby their own agendas to control adult adoptees without having big bucks to fund the process? I hope you keep questioning, Gregory. That’s the only way we will come up with a workable solution.

  • BRAVO! Well stated and concise. BN have long trampled on those who are working in their own states to pass the best legislation possible. The one point to be added is that with social media and DNA testing, any legislator who supports redaction or withholding of original birth certificates, is naive to think that the action will prevent adoptees and first families from reconnecting. Also, there is a distinct difference between anonymity and privacy. There is no privacy to anyone in the process without restoring access to original birth certificates.

    This is a state by state issue and we in the State Coordinators for Equal Access group on Facebook recognize and support our fellow members who are doing their part on working in a cooperative manner on this issue.

    Thank you for this and I look forward to reading more!

  • Mary, I agree that more funding would greatly improve the odds of passing clean legislation. The funds we raised in Connecticut were critically important in enabling us to get our partial access bill passed in 2014. But to my knowledge, in the 18 years since Measure 58 no one has been able to raise anything close to the amounts contributed by Helen Hill. And those funds were spent in a SINGLE state. We would need millions to fund efforts in just those states that have active advocacy movements today.

    In fact, most adoptee rights organizations have little or no money, are not incorporated and do not have nonprofit status. Bastard Nation has claimed in other forums to be spending money to combat compromise legislation, but as far as I can tell they have no funds at all. (GuideStar shows no Form 990s on file for them since 2007. Their 2007 Form 990 shows slightly over $15,000 in assets.)

    The typical pattern seems to be a small group of advocates work themselves to the bone for years, exhausting their psychological and financial resources. Then they either collapse and walk away in defeat or, as is happening now in some states, they pass the legislation they can get passed.

    I can think of many possible reasons why adoptee rights organizations haven’t been able to raise funds. Whatever the reasons, for nearly two decades it hasn’t happened. So, what are we to do given this bald fact? Wait for another Helen Hill? Or do the best we can to deal with the financial and political realities of the circumstances we find ourselves in? Very tough questions and potentially agonizing decisions to be made by all of us.

    • I think the issue of Bastard Nation’s legal and tax-exempt status was unfairly raised in a different forum so I thought I’d nip the bud again here, and this is just for info purposes, not to disagree with what Karen said here. I don’t believe you have to file the “big kahuna” 990 with the IRS if you have assets or receipts below a certain threshold (it’s changed over the years but it is now, I believe, $200,000 for receipts and a bit more for assets). Same goes for the mid-sized 99o-EZ, which is for annual receipts less than $200,000 (don’t quote me on that). The newest “baby-sized” 990-N is just an electronic postcard that tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS if their gross receipts are less than $50,000 annually. I’m sure that’s why we don’t see any more 990s of the tiny organizations. Bastard Nation is probably exactly like all the other small volunteer-driven organizations out there that are trying to make a real difference in the world but don’t have a whole lot of money to do so.

      • Greg, my apologies for any unfairness regarding my mention of BN’s non-filing of Form 990s. My point was not to imply they were obligated to do so, but to underscore the fact that even an adoptee rights organization that has been around for many years appears to have been unable to raise the kind of funds needed to mount a strong offensive. We are all (relatively) poor. I think we need to consider that reality when deciding what legislative strategy to pursue and what is possible.

        • Agreed and no problem, as I didn’t take it as your saying Bastard Nation deliberately failed to file required tax information forms. I just knew that some folks would interpret it that way. I wanted to cut that interpretation off quickly before it spiraled into the abyss. 🙂

        • Actually, you made a false statement which was as follows:

          “they have no funds at all”

          You have zero evidence for that statement other than the fact that BN has not filed 990s since 2007 and instead have utilized 990-Ns. All that is evidence of is that they have not earned annual income greater than $50,000.

          In addition, aside from M58, BN successfully passed unrestricted open records legislation in AL which required little funding and partnered to do so in NH and RI also with groups without a great deal of funds. Maine also was a low funded grassroots effort.

          • Shea, my exact statement is “as far as I can tell they have no funds at all.” This is true. Feel free to provide more information. Best nonprofit practices require full public disclosure of their finances.

            I stand by my point that all adoptee rights efforts are hampered by the very small number of active advocates and the related lack of funding and political power. Purchased media alone would greatly strengthen the volunteer and voter base (like it did in Oregon). IMO there is s direct connection between the lack of funds and the compromise legislation arising in some states. I’m not saying it can’t be done without money. I am saying it is much less likely. Hence the abysmal lack of progress on adoptee rights in the past 20 years.

            If every state had $250,000 we would be much more likely to have an unrestricted clean access nation.

          • NH does have a contact veto. As one of the original members of the group who helped pass the legislation, please don’t take credit for it. You didn’t help us at all.

          • No, New Hampshire does NOT have a contact veto. Like Oregon, New Hampshire has a contact preference form. Regardless of a birth parent’s indicated preference, an NH adult adoptee receives a copy of their original birth certificate, and there are no civil or criminal penalties attached to the CPF. Did Bastard Nation provide help to the New Hampshire effort? Yes, they did. Representative Janet Allen, Bastard Nation member and Legislative Committee liaison, helped shepherd the bill through, and was the first New Hampshire adoptee to receive her OBC under the new law.

          • Sue Henry, please stop lying.
            It’s pretty hard to take someone seriously who doesn’t even know what the law is in the state where they claim to have been involved, but I WROTE the NH bill. It is identical to Measure 58 in Oregon. Word for word. And uses the particular phrase I coined regarding “procedures, filing fees and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the state”, which has been documented in multiple books and media. Since you apparently haven’t read it, here is the NH law:

            “Upon written application by an adult adoptee, who was born in this state and who has had an original birth certificate removed from vital statistics records due to an adoption, the registrar shall issue to such applicant a non-certified copy of the unaltered, original certificate of birth of the adoptee, with procedures, filing fees and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the state”

            There is no “contact veto”. Again, the NH law has a CPF provision that is IDENTICAL to the one I co-wrote in Oregon. It states as follows:
            “The registrar shall prescribe and, upon request, shall make available to each birth parent named on the original birth certificate, a contact preference form on which the birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adoptee who is the birth child of the birth parent. Upon such a request, the registrar shall also provide the birth parent with an updated medical history form, which shall be completed and returned, together with the completed contact preference form, by the birth parent to the registrar.
            I-b. The contact preference form shall provide the birth parent with the following options from which the birth parent shall select one:
            (a) I would like to be contacted. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.
            (b) I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.
            (c) I would prefer not to be contacted at this time. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.”

            A contact veto, such as what they have in TN, would actually prohibit an individual from contacting someone who had indicated they do not want contact. That does not exist in the NH bill.

          • Also, Sue, when the NH bill passed, Bastard Nation has an Executive Committee member *who was actually a NH state representative* who advocated the bill and ushered it through final passage. There is no doubt that NH, like many other bills, was a coalition effort, but in this case, BN was also intimately involved from the beginning, including it being a bill whose exact language I WROTE.

            This is really getting ridiculous.

    • Karen, I only brought up the issue of how Oregon passed their open record legislation, because they by-passed the adoption industry professionals and legislators who seem to think that adoptees with their OBC are a danger to the status quo. When we’re attacked for our views within the open records community, it’s easy to forget where our energies are needed. In the past, the adoption industry has done a wonderful job projecting into the future and putting as many obstacles, such as birth parent privacy and affidavits-of-nondisclosure, in our path as possible to circumvent our goal of open records for all adult adoptees. I don’t know what the answer is, other than to keep at it, one day at a time.

      • I think we’re in a different era than the period surrounding M58. At that time only Kansas and Alaska had any track record regarding the lack of catastrophic consequences of OBC access. There’s much more of a track record now, including two significant (and ultimately unsuccessful) court challenges to OBC access legislation. Opponents have not filed suit to stop full access legislation in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Alabama or to stop any partial access legislation.

        Opponents are currently relying upon lobbying, both open and secret, to kill or deform any efforts to pass clean (or even dirty) legislation.

        There’s also a lot of education that needs to happen. Witness the recent announcement about Indiana cracking open the 1940-1994 black hole. There were several comments warning about the inevitable increase in abortions.

        We’re not going to get very far if we spend our time attempting to derail someone else’s efforts. I don’t think there’s anyone here who is opposed to passing legislation that restores OBC access for ALL adoptees. That is our common ground. We need to focus on that.

        • It is a different era. The adoption industry has changed, as was evidenced by the support that they gave the amendment to allow Oregon adoptees access to their adoption court file on request, not petition, in 2014, which led to unanimous approval in both house and senate. Adoption attorneys are involved in surrogacy and IVF procedures now, it’s where they’re making their money, and they don’t care as much about our records. I think it would be worthwhile to reach out and form alliances where we can. There are, after all, no permanent friends or enemies in politics, only permanent interests.

  • Thank you for your candid comments and position regarding adoption politics and the challenges facing MARM. Your essay asks for accountability and responsibility for moving legislation forward, and I must attest that the members of our Missouri team have stepped up to the plate. Adversary groups like BN have no one to answer to and don’t spend any money to ‘kill a bill’. They have no connection to a particular state, community, political group or religious affiliation. They consist of 4 admins at best, and CalOpen is one of them. They just spew nasty rhetoric that only divides our community to restore civil rights to adult adoptees. Compromise is a ‘good’ thing in legislation and hopefully, it is in the interest for both parties and in our case, restoring rights for adoptees. With more states restoring rights, the fear and pain of unsealed records will lessen, and ‘clean bills’ will become a standard. It is a process that BN just doesn’t understand.

    • If you want to stop “nasty rhetoric” then stop with the lies. BN does not “consist of 4 admins at best”, it’s a group that’s been around for nearly 20 years, has members in every state, has passed several unrestricted bills, killed many bad bills, has more than a dozen people in leadership positions plus dozens of other state legislative liaisons. CalOpen is not a BN “admin” whatever that means. If you mean an admin of the BN FB page, they are not. Not only is the head of CalOpen not in BN leadership, she is not even a BN member. Missouri Open has also been around for more than 15 years and is led by a well known adoptee in Missouri who has been legislatively active and is known and respected even by many in MARM.

      Charzcterizing an organization that’s actually managed to pass unrestricted bills, multiple times, as “just [not understanding] the process” is just laughable. I find it ironic that the author of the blog and his supporters lament what they apparently consider the incivility within AdoptionLand, even while many of the most uncivil of them chime in with the same tired false statements in the comments.

      Furthermore, veto bills do not “restore rights”. They CREATE previous non-existent, special rights for birthparents to veto access to the birth and adoption records of another.

      This is a perfect example of a non-adoptee co-opting adoptee rights language, attacking adoptee rights groups and attempting to tell adoptees what should be acceptable to them. It is not ok. You are not an ally. What you’re doing is colonizing, infantilizing, and usurping.

      • Shea, doesn’t a closed record state already vest a veto right in *every* birth parent? Arguably a bill with a non disclosure veto, and especially one that sunsets, is limiting that blanket statutory right to only those birth parents who choose to specifically exercise it. This is actually a sticking point with some legislators. What about those birth parents who aren’t aware they must actively exercise the veto/redact because they believe they are already protected by the law? (You know I don’t agree with this.)

        Can’t it be argued that a veto/redact restricts a right that already exists rather than creating one that doesn’t?

        And while I admit it might be harder in some cases to get a veto statutorily repealed, it can be done. In the late 80s Connecticut passed a law making the non disclosure veto expire upon death of the birth parent. And our 2014 bill retroactively repealed the veto for every post October 1, 1983 adoptee. Our bill was also prospective so every adoptee born in Connecticut today has the unrestricted right of access when they reach 18. Undoing vetos can be done. The strategic question is, is it more likely to be done incrementally or does incrementalism increase the chance of at least partial failure (“left behinds”). This is the tactical discussion I believe we need to have. And I believe all name calling by either BN or its detractors (and I completely agree they need to abide by Rules of Conduct as well) hampers our collective ability to have this discussion.

        • Greg, Karen and all who have commented: This has been a great forum to exchange ideas. Thanks to everyone. I’d like to respond to the comment about “closed record states” giving birth parents’ privacy rights. While I am not an attorney, I have read the statutes and I haven’t seen any language giving birth parents’ privacy rights until legislators came up with affidavits-of-nondisclosure. People assumed that because records were sealed that meant birth parents had privacy, but it wasn’t the case. Judges were given the authority to write court orders “for good cause shown” without considering the situation of the birth parent. This negates any privacy the birth parent might have had. If an attorney or adoption facilitator “promised” a birth mother her privacy was 100% protected from her progeny because the record was sealed from the public, s/he was mistaken. It was never in the statutes.

          • I agree for the most part, Mary. Here in MN records were closed to the public in 1917 but available parties to the adoption until 2945, when the law was changed to require a court order to access the court records. In 1977 sweeping new laws were enacted, authorizing affidavits of non-disclosure and disclosure, requiring intermediary searches at the adult sdoptee’s expense, and placing the burden of proof on adoptees to convince the court release of an OBC was of greater benefit to the adoptee than it was a detriment to birthparents, among other things. Five years later, the legislature modified the law governing access to identifying information held by agencies, granting release of that information to adults adopted after August 1, 1982, unless an affidavit of nondisclosure was filed with the agency. In this case, however, such affidavits could be contested, with the burden of proof being placed on the birthparents seeking anonymity.

            At best, birthparents whose children wereally adopted in a 5 year window between 8.1.77 and 8.1.82 and who filed affidavits of nondisclosure are the only birthparents who could claim any statutory right to anonymity of which they might have been awareq at the time they surrendered their parental rights. According to data compiled by the Minnesota Department of Health, 267 birth parents filed affidavits of non-disclosure in this 5 year period. 135000 people were adopted in MN between 1935 and 2014. That’s 270,000 birthparents, of which only 267 (less than one tenth of one percent) might legitimately claim they surrendered their parental rights expecting their identities never to be revealed by the state.

            • Dear James, thank you for clarifying what has happened in Minnesota regarding birth parent privacy. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the legislature actually putting the burden on birth parents to show why a record should be withheld as opposed to putting the burden on adoptees to show why it should be opened. I have a difficult time justifying giving birth parents privacy when it was never in the statutes. People have bandied about the figure of one percent of birth parents who don’t want to be found. That’s well and good for parents who have relinquished in probably the last twenty years. But birth mothers who gave up their children in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and even the 70s have so much shame connected to the event that I believe the percentage is much, much higher. Many freak out when you approach them in a confidential manner. I would much prefer allowing the adoptee to have the birth certificate with the caveat of whether or not the birth parents want to be contacted. It’s much more humane for the adoptee.

  • An interesting essay, sir. I’d like to add my thoughts as an adoptive father and attorney who has followed this issue for 20 years and is now engaged in efforts to roll back the clock in Minnesota.

    I’ve also been a supporter of BN for many years and understand its position well: you don’t compromise on civil rights and, like the Marines, you leave no one behind. Moreover, it is exceedingly rare (unheard of, in my experience) for any state to revisit the issue in any reasonable time after a bill becomes law. What one settles for today will still be the law many years from now.

    Compromise legislation such as we see in Missouri and have seen in a number of other states in recent years affects all adult adoptees in the United States. Why? Because no state legislature, and no organization opposing open records, operates in a vacuum. What happens in one state directly affects what may happen in another. The Missouri compromise was drawn directly from other states in which a contact preference form (in which a birth parent could express a preference for contact or no contact) transformed into a prohibition on the release of unaltered original birth certificates.

    Minnesota’s adult adoptees have struggled with such a system since 1977, when our legislature retroactively sealed all original birth certificates and established a system under which birth parents were permitted to file affidavits of disclosure or non-disclosure. Adoptees were given no right of appeal where an affidavit of non-disclosure has been filed.

    More than 1300 affidavits of non-disclosure have been filed in Minnesota since 1977. This may seem a small number to some but it certainly does not to anyone whose OBC is forever beyond their grasp as a result.

    One of the favorite tropes of those who oppose open records is the myth that some women, somewhere, were promised that their identities would never be revealed. Statutes which give birth parents unilateral power to deny their offspring access to their original birth certificates give life to this myth and will almost certainly make further progress more difficult, if not impossible. I know this because, among other things, I’ve walked the halls of my state legislature seeking open records.

    • Thanks, Jim. I’m a Minnesota resident as well, so I hope we run into each other and get to talk. For now, and keeping the theme to Minnesota, is the current bill in the Minnesota legislature (which is here) a “dirty” or “clean” bill? As you say, adoptees born after 1977 in Minnesota currently can get their original birth certificates, subject to a disclosure veto. The proposed legislation apparently “evens” the field. It opens the birth records to adoptees born before 1977 but subjects them also to a disclosure veto. That is, we open the records to adoptees who were completely “left behind” three decades ago but applies a disclosure veto to them too. Clean or dirty? Support or oppose? I ask honestly of you and everyone.

      • The current bill is not a clean bill, in that it does not make original birth certificates available to all adult adoptees upon request. What is does do is make all OBCs except those subject to a non-disclosure affidavit available upon request to all adoptees 18 years old or older, regardless of when they were adopted. This leaves behind some 1300 people, a not insignificant number. but provides some route to receipt of their information.

        For those whose OBCs are subject to affidavits of non-disclosure, it provides a mechanism for a petition to the court, in which the burden of proving the information should remain sealed is upon the birth parent requesting anonymity.

        Such affidavits could continue to be filed in future years, with the birth parent being advised at the time of filing that the failure to file will result in the release of the information should it be requested by an adult adoptee. The filing parent also is to be advised that he or she will bear the burden of proof should the adoptee petition for release of the information. This process is modeled on existing law which provides for release of identifying information by the involved adoption agency, for all those adopted after August 1, 1982.

        Affidavits of non-disclosure have become extremely rare in Minnsota in the last decade, perhaps because of the 1982 law. Some agencies which have received affidavits of non-disclosure for agency held information have then filed those affidavits with the Minnesota Department of Health. As a result, a person adopted after August 1, 1982, may petition the court for release of agency held information but not his or her original birth certificate.

        The reasons for providing a court review rather than simply abolishing existing affidavits of non-disclosure are legal and political. Legally, those who have filed such affidavits in the past would have standing to challenge a law invalidating their affidavits on Constitutional grounds.

        While two courts have ruled there is no Constitutional right to anonymity, the Oregon court’s decision was based in part on its finding that the proposition did not deprive birth parents of a vested interest. No state of which I am aware has ruled on whether a statute such as Minnesota’s creates such an interest. Because of this, and the fact that opponents managed to recruit clients and counsel to challenge the Oregon and Tennessee laws, I believe it is best to avoid that issue by providing due process to all concerned, something all are denied under existing law regarding original birth certificates.

        Politically, I see it as a necessity in light of the fact that the non-disclosure affidavit law already is on the books and, as I mentioned earlier, gives life to the myth of promises made to birth parents.

        Frankly, I prefer a clean bill. It is not possible to obtain one in Minnesota, in my view, so long as our leading pro-life organization (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life MCCL) opposes us. Members of both parties, including some key leadership and committee chairs, are too heavily influenced by threats of being “ranked” on their votes on this issue, so long as MCCL opposes it. In fact, it opposes the current bill despite as adamantly as it has the bill’s predecessors in 2014 and 2008.

  • Thank you for opening this discussion. I have to ask if you have read the two pieces of legislation in Missouri? The reason I ask is that you stated “Ultimately, and this is how it apparently works in Missouri, the clean bill came out of a legislative committee with all the muck of the dirty bill merged into it.”

    Actually, the “clean” bill was modified to prevent the “dirty” bill from merging with it. One thing that I don’t understand is why so many people have been posting that the bills were combined when, in fact, that is not true at all.

      • Yes it makes a tremendous difference. The whole reason we need to have HB 1599 is because of the current adoption records law consistently failing to work they way the way it was intended. Thousands of adoption records have been misplaced, countless adopted adults don’t know where to go to request their information, and birth parents have no clue where to submit medical information or consent for contact. Even if they sign up on the mutual consent registry, they are not always connected because they court has to find the file and verify the relationship first. If 1822 was combined with 1599….we would not be having this conversation.

        HB 1599 allows the adopted person to simply go in and apply for their birth certificate and pay the same fee that they would for their amended birth certificate. Yes there is a possibility that the birth parent’s name may be redacted from the birth certificate; however those percentages are typically a lot smaller than the number of adoptees who likely die each year just because they are human.

        • Thank you Missouri for all your hard work and sweat. Keep going and keep fighting for this bill HB 1599. It is the ‘cleanest’ bill to date, and I will back it. As we say in Nevada: To all that oppose- write home if you find work.

  • I think it’s important to realize that this is one issue. (OBCs). The contempt between these organizations will help no adoptee in the long run. I don’t know about you all, but adoption reform is more than access to my birth certificate. It’s an adoptees right to a safe home, resources, and the removal of profit, at the very least a monitoring of finances exchanged. (My birth father used the funds intended for my birth mother’s hospital recovery to buy video recording studio equipment.).

    Allies are free to disagree, yes. But for us adoptees trying to participate the view is dismal and disheartening. I know I sound dramatic, but, hey- this is why adoptees can’t have anything nice.

    • Agreed. The “dismal and disheartening” view for me was hard to swallow and it motivated me to call it out and start writing it about it here. I can’t imagine how many other folks out there, probably like a lot of us, took a look at what was happening among adoptees and others and then said, “no thanks, I conciliate enough relationships in my head already.” Thanks.

      • I’ve written on BN quite extensively about allies. Allies cannot be self-declared. Being an ally involves mutual consent. Groups and individuals who attempt to pass veto legislation, thus denying adoptees their right to the equal protection and due process of law, are not my, or BN’s allies. In addition, nonadoptees who attempt to tell BN or any adoptee or adoptee rights groups what they should be willing to compromise, are not allies, they are colonizers.

        Bastard Nation membership is growing. We’re at our largest and most active since the early 2000s. We have the best chance to pass an unrestricted access bill in years. I do not see adoptee rights activists as being disheartened and dismal, rather I see a distinct and natural rift between those who support the equality position and strategy and those who do not. We are not going to apologize for killing or trying to kill veto and redaction bills and if those who are or have been supporting these bills are disheartened, then good.

        Our efforts at killing the contact veto bill in TX resulted in a splinter group being formed (non-BN members) in TX who now want and are working on a clean bill and will ally with us. Our efforts killing veto bills in RI paid off when a clean bill was passed there. In PA, the group there who had considered supporting their clean bill if it got amended with vetoes, reconsidered and joined BN in opposing it when it got amended. We now will be stronger when we ally to work for a clean bill in PA.

        I am actually heartened by the vitriolic and hysterical attacks on BN by groups who fail at passing veto legislation because I’m hopeful that it will dissuade them from trying again. Either by stepping out of the way and allowing us to push an unrestricted bill instead, or better yet, allying with us and getting on board with no veto resolutions. Ironically I think we’re actually given too much credit for killing veto bills when I think most of the time they die thanks to the incompetence or the proponents and not us, but I’ll take it if it means they just stop.

  • …adding to my comment earlier-
    Essentially, if adoptees are to be represented it must be done with the knowledge that many adoptees have been abused, neglected and silenced, and we deserve to be represented with care. If allied infighting is to occur, *ahem BN – perhaps a pointed discussion between groups would have been best.

    • What precisely would you have BN do or not do in support of its position? Of itself in response to criticisms such as have been made here?

      The organization is clear in its position on OBCs: leave no one behind. It’s not, in my view, a purist position, it is a pragmatic position. Incremental changes in access laws have been subverted time and again. When family medical history was used as an argument, legislatures responded by passing arcane and/or useless medical information statutes and left records closed. When people used reunion as a basis for opening records, legislators bought the myth of promises having been made to men and women terminating their rights, even though in many (most?) states records were closed retroactively and with no thought to the rights of adult adoptees. The right to equal treatment under the law is a legitimate argument, one which cannot be silenced by piecemeal, incremental legislation. It also is less vulnerable to the “I got mine” response to piecemeal legislation.

      Minnesota dug the hole for its adult adoptees almost 40 years ago. Had it not already enacted disclosure veto/non-disclosure affidavit laws, I would be fighting for a clean bill here. But it has and the experience here should be a lesson for all who consider accepting such laws in their states.

        • I’ve facilitated support groups, and if politics were a support group, these rules would suffice. Politics aren’t a support group. I’ve been deeply involved in successful campaigns that violated every one of these rules, and were successful because they violated every one of these rules. At the end of the day, what matters is how many votes you can count.

          The notion that adult adoptees are hot-house orchids that must be coddled is, in my opinion, pernicious. The struggle for access to our records of birth is a political one, not a therapeutic one. Therefore adult adoptees need to become political, which means becoming empowered. Which means becoming resilient. No insult that BN has ever used against another adoption activist is as hurtful as a disclosure or contact veto, which is done under color of law, with the full weight of the state.

          Because there is no accountability in the adoption reform movement, anybody can create a Facebook page or an online petition and claim to be a leader. They promote fantasies and clearly mistaken concepts of the constitution and presidential powers, and expect to be taken seriously. Why should I take them seriously and treat them as colleagues? If I think they’re wrong or delusional, I’m going to say so. Again, life is not a support group in which all opinions carry the same weight, there is no cross-talk, and all communications must be conducted with decorum.

    • Agreed. Thank you for your insight and focus. Perhaps this blog and Missouri’s bill HB 1599 will empower you as an adoptee!

  • James, I for one have no problem with BN’s position. The problem I have is with their ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, insults and contemptuous treatment of other advocates who do not agree with their position or strategies. They, by the way, interpret a disagreement about strategy as a betrayal of the position/principle of equality, thus rendering the speaker deserving of said ad hominem attacks, etc.

    I am of the opinion that we ALL want equal access and are only disagreeing on the method by which we will arrive at it. Unfortunately BN’s language has shut down the very conversations we need to have both intra-state and nationally about how to proceed. We are a small group of advocates and need each person’s experience and perspective to develop the best strategies possible. BN has previously found it condescending for me to say I value their input, but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. (BTW I’m already appreciating your input about MN’s legal situation, something I knew nothing about.)

    What would I have BN do? Abide by the Access Connecticut Rules of Conduct when speaking to other advocates in any forum. http://gregoryluce.com/blog/ugly-politics-adult-adoptees/#comment-11554

    • Absolutely!

      I’m also seeing a bit of revisionist history. I remember BN attacking Rhode Island for passing a bill that set the age at 25. I also remember quite vividly an attack on Connecticut’s bill because it left behind pre-1983 adoptees. Now Rhode Island is okay?

      It is MUCH easier to go back and expand access by lowering the age or by extending the period than by trying to void signed disclosure vetoes.

      The Texas bill did not specifically prohibit release of the OBC but the wording left a lot to be desired. Now BN is attacking STAR for “not knowing procedure”. Really? I thought it was more about trusting some people a bit too much. Where was the sponsor in all this?

      Some far less than perfect bills leave the door open for future access. Others (most notably disclosure vetoes) do not.

      • Thank you! It seems that BN changes their position if it works in their favor or they don’t have a clue! (I pick the latter).

  • Mary, I agree with the fact that most of the for-profit adoption industry poses a strong obstacle to adoptee access, and money incentivizes their opposition. Connecticut is one of only four states which bans for profit adoption, which sometimes gives me a bit of a skewed perspective on the industry in general. One day at a time it is. I also believe that when DNA testing becomes as accessible, affordable and as routine as Match.com, these laws will become irrelevant and obsolete. Between now and then there is a lot of work to do.

    • Yep, I saw that today. Not sure what to make of it, actually, though I assume it’s a positive to get some long-time advocates involved. My questions generally from this post actually remain, and they relate primarily to transparency and apply to both Bastard Nation and MARM. I may write a separate post to spell it out in a bit more detail. Currently, MARM is a closed-discussion group on Facebook (which is itself a proprietary forum that not everyone can freely access) and Bastard Nation, which is a lot more transparent, can be hard to figure out. Specifically, how they make decisions and who is involved. Same goes with the new Missouri Open group. I sound like I’m griping and I’m really not—just have some questions and some criticism of “Facebook activism” generally. That and we’re all trying to get things done on a shoestring and a half hour.

      • If you have any questions, just ask. I don’t think there’s anything hard to figure out about BN…

        With respect to “Facebook activism”, Bastard Nation, and Missouri Open, were around a long time before Facebook. Facebook is a tool, that’s all.

        Missouri Open is not new. The Facebook page for it is new, but the group has been around for more than 16 years.

        • The Facebook thing is a minor issue for me but one nonetheless. What I meant was this: Facebook, while an easy and far-reaching way to distribute a message, is often not a great choice to foster broad participation. It’s not a bad choice because, after all, it makes things easy to share and does offer a potential audience of more than a billion people. But it has significant drawbacks. One is privacy and the requirement that, if you want to participate, you must cough up your privacy to a corporation. Despite a billion people willing to do that, there are quite a few (like me) who don’t. The other is the inability really to discuss serious issues seriously or without devolving into name-calling. It’s just too easy for many people to go there.

          This may be a little quibble, but it’s something to consider in fostering open communication, especially as more and more organizations appear to be putting all their communication eggs in the Facebook basket. There is no perfect solution, but the increasing use of Facebook for communication, to the exclusion of other ways, is problematic for me.

      • The “MARM” or Missouri Adoptee Rights Movement Org. Facebook page is NOT a closed or private group, nor has it ever been.

      • On the contrary Gregory, I think Missouri would be happy to add you to the group. Have you asked Heather?

    • Thank you, James. I have joined Lindsay in a more active role at Missouri Open, although I have participated in Missouri Open campaigns since 1998. It is not a new group. I also wanted to respond to what Gregory wrote here: “I may be wrong about this, but I bet that, among MARM’s supporters and organizers, there are adult adoptees who, if the Missouri legislature passes the current bill as is, will be vetoed by their birth parents and left behind. That’s the art and nature of compromise in politics, potentially going against your own self-interests to benefit others. That’s something generally Bastard Nation cannot do and, for better or worse, may make it less and less relevant as the political fight over adoptee rights to their birth certificates continues.”

      There are potential losses and real losses. There is putting your needs on the back burner for a greater good. In my case, that means waiting and being patient for a bill that restores access to all Missouri adoptees. I may be dead before this happens, and that is all right by me. That is *my* version of compromise. I do not want to participate in enacting legislation that leaves adoptees behind, no matter how few, just so I, or maybe some others, the majority, yes, can celebrate. I believe firmly in equality. Yes, people die every day. I work in a job where this is a reality. It is sad. But I cannot be swayed to say that death justifies supporting inequality “to be fixed later.” Equal means equal. It does not mean that some are more equal than others for a time indeterminate. Integrity beats instant gratification.

  • I have not seen this blog post until today and I spoke to several people in BN leadership today who were also unaware of this blog and this post. When writing about an organization, making certain accusations and implying that you’ve reached out for a response, it seems only courteous to have at least advised the organization of your piece.

    First, I take issue with the title of the article. You are not talking about “adoptee rights” conflicts. Bastard Nation is the only national adoptee rights group in the U.S. MARM, despite its name, is not an adoptee rights group. Groups that support adoptee access legislation that is not unrestricted access are not adoptee rights groups. And they never purported to be until BN came along because they liked the rhetoric if not the walk behind the talk. They are usually search and reunion groups or adoption reform groups who for whatever reason got involved in legislative activism as concerns records access, but veto legislation is not adoptee rights legislation.

    It appears your blog is mostly read (and therefore responded to) by anti-BN individuals who have been responsible for repeated false claims and attacks on both BN and me personally. Therefore the bias in your article, which only addresses your claim that it is BN responsible for “publicly slamming”, “excoriating” or name-calling other groups or individuals, appears to me to be intended more of a hit piece than an actual well researched survey of the state of, as you put it, “politics” of various adoptee and adoption reform groups.

    I have had rumors about my personal life spread by some of the same people commenting on your blog with their incredibly ironic, condescending lectures on how BN should act, even though neither BN nor its leadership have or would EVER spread rumors about people’s wives, husbands, children or similar when we’ve disagreed with their policies and politics. These have gotten so out of hand that after testifying in support of Hawaii’s unrestricted access bill, my fiancé was accosted by an individual who repeated some of these same false rumors that had been heard online.

    Some of these same people recently delighting in the disparaging nicknames they had come up with for me and BN founder Marley Greiner. I have had racial slurs hurled at me – something that again, would never be tolerated by any in BN leadership. As you note, the Bastard Nation FB page is open. However the other groups you mention often have hidden groups in which their slurs and animosity toward BN are given free rein amongst who they think are only their supporters, but many are passed along to us. It is in these groups that rumors are taken as fact and then from there, their members encouraged to make them public.

    MARM even tweeted Missouri legislators slurs and falsehoods about BN, as if legislators care one whit about their petty disputes. So if you want to complain about “SMARM” or silly other nicknames some people use on the BN FB page, fine, but the reality is this: It is not BN who has conducted themselves unprofessionally with legislators or in any arena that matters. It is not BN members or activists who appear unprofessionally dressed before legislators, publicize photos of themselves writhing around on state Capitol floors in jeans and tshirts, and act out so badly that their own legislative sponsors refuse to speak to them, as is the case of some of your cheerleaders in the comments below. It is not BN who accuses longtime activists, even when we disagree with them of being ‘fronts for adoption agencies’ as some of your supporters posting in the comments have done. In your finger pointing outrage, you might want to spare some for others.

    In addition, neither I nor many others in BN, tolerate those who would deny us our rights. Yes, we will publicly slam, excoriate, and continue to criticize and shame groups who attempt to do so. Simply because someone claims to be an ally does not make them so. The fact is that many groups calling themselves adoptee rights groups these days are taking near identical positions of those that our so-called opposition takes. Your position appears to me that simply because someone is an adoptee or claims to be for adoptee rights that somehow we should just all figure out how to get along. We are not all on the same side.

    With respect to the Missouri bill, MARM reached out to BN and asked for help with their bill about a year ago. We asked, as we do all our partners, to agree to a no veto resolution. They refused. So we then took the stance we always do, which is to monitor the legislation, share action alerts from the group promoting it, and write our own action alerts. We supported the bill when it was clean. We supported the contact preference form amendment. We shared MARMs posts about the bill. Then when it was amended with a veto, we opposed it. Entirely consistent with what we’ve done for almost 20 years.

    While the bill was still clean, we also asked a longtime Missouri adoptee activist, Lindsay Woodside, who has been around as Missouri Open for long before MARM existed, to make legislative inquiries with her contacts, and we put her in contact with Missouri adoptees who were willing to provide help on the ground as well as remotely. So we had our own people on the ground. We also had people within MARM who communicated with us throughout the process to advise us what was happening within the organization on the ground. After the bill deformed, we were contacted by several defectors from MARM asking for our help. We advised Lindsay that she should reactivate Missouri Open as there were adoptees looking for an alternative. She did so together with other Missouri adoptees and Missouri residents who are adoptees.

    It is absolutely false that BN’s opposition to the veto bill and its opposition to the other agency-backed bill in MO “mucked up” anything MARM was doing. They have never been able to support that nonsensical claim and simply repeating it over and over doesn’t make it so. It was obvious from the get go that MARM didn’t know what they were doing and they lost control of the process when the agency bill came along. They were afraid of communicating with legislators, they violated almost every commonly accepted principle of good legislative activism and lobbying, and their public statements made it clear that their leadership hadn’t, or was unable, to read and correctly analyze either the existing law or their own proposed legislation. Even now on their FB page they are infighting and their own supporters are complaining about all of the confusing information being disseminated about the bill by MARM. This is a common problem with those in adoption reform groups who attempt to enter into the legislative arena with no background in it, and who don’t enlist the help and support of those who have. MARM did not have some super secret strategy that was somehow interfered with by the opposition to the agency bill and later the veto bill. They admitted they were blindsided by the agency bill and obviously their brilliant plan to just ignore it didn’t work at all.

    Neither MARM nor any other local adoptee (or non adoptee) group owns the process. Even if a given group secures a sponsor and advances a bill, that does not make it “their” bill, which should not be commented upon or acted upon by any individual or group outside of theirs. The legislative process is open and transparent as to what bills actually say. MARM continued to be hopelessly confused about what was happening with the legislation and repeatedly gave out incorrect and contradictory information to their supporters, many of whom finally gave up and came to us for accurate information.

    To summarize, MARM is not and was not the only group of people with a vested interest in the process. BN has many Missouri members and Missouri Open is a Missouri based group, headed by a longtime Missouri adoptee activist with a proven track record longer than any in MARM of advocating and working on adoptee rights legislation.

    With respect to your philosophical musings on how Bastard Nation’s equality position “strips all nuance and context” out of obtaining equal access to records, it’s a very strange argument. I’m not sure if matters much, since it’s neither here nor there, but I guess what I would say is in my opinion the exact opposite is true. The search and reunionists are whom strip all nuance and context, implying as they do that equality doesn’t or shouldn’t matter, that the issue of dignity, of the due process and equality of law should be subverted in favor of a rather nihilistic approach that appeals only to those who have yet to search or desire to search. A rights approach speaks to ALL adoptees, not just the minority who want to search or who have not yet done so, or who need open records to do so. In part that’s why BN was formed, because adoptees who had no interest in searching but supported equal records access and adoptee equality, were feeling left out and had nowhere to go.

    As far as your conclusion that BN’s refusal to accept veto legislation makes it “less relevant as the political fight over adoptee rights” continues, I find it a baffling and rather bizarre (not to mention unsupportable) assertion. It’s kind of like saying that marriage equality activists were irrelevant in the fight for marriage equality because they weren’t willing to settle for civil unions.

    The bottom line is this. Bastard Nation is never going to change its position that veto/redacted legislation creates a vested right for birthparents that didn’t exist under the law previously, stripping away one of the strongest arguments for unrestricted access, and that once passed it becomes extremely difficult to go back and fix it. We are never going to change our position that veto and similar legislation harms adoptees by perpetuating the notion that adoptees are and should be treated as less than equal citizens. We have for 20 years been doing exactly what we said we were going to do. Kill all legislation that is veto or redaction or intermediaries or similar, and work on passing clean, unrestricted legislation where we can.

    In addition, we continue to serve as a place for likeminded adoptees to share information, stories, humor, poetry, blogs. We also serve as a place to discuss some of the broader political and legal issues concerning adoptees. If you take a look at every adoptee and so called adoptee rights groups Facebook pages, the difference between the quality of dialogue and issues discussed is immense. In one day on BN you can find intelligent discussions of ICWA, constitutional issues in records access, survey of case law, blogs and stories of the redacted, together with legislative alerts about every bill concerning records access currently pending, and much more. That doesn’t exist anywhere else. We are the only national group devoted to adoptee equality and as such even if you don’t agree with us, we serve (IMO, of course) an important purpose.

    • So many falsehoods in this one comment, I don’t even know where to begin, nor do I have the time. Just to highlight one.. “MARM even tweeted Missouri legislators slurs and falsehoods about BN, as if legislators care one whit about their petty disputes.” Well that is an outright lie, as I personally put out the Tweets for MARM, and NO Tweet was EVER sent any MO legislator about BN, let alone ones containing “slurs and falsehoods.” So many other untrue statements here, I could write a book.

    • Point taken Grimm. Bastard Nation has been around too long and to date, have no claim to any legislation successes (maybe some influences in Oregon) and regarding Missouri Open- 16 years and they still can’t get right or done. Move aside and let the real reformers do their work to help adoptees. You are full of Hot Air girlfiend!

  • When I joined Bastard Nation twenty years ago, I was initially attracted to their attitude, and then to their arguments. People change, circumstances change, and I haven’t been a part of their leadership for twelve years. But I maintain an abiding interest in adoptee rights, in many different aspects and arenas, including access to birth records and the rights to identity. Am I irrelevant? My work in my state, Oregon, is done, we have the most progressive adoption records access laws in the country, due to Measure 58 and to the work of the Adoption section of the Oregon Law Commission in 2013, on which I represented adult adoptees. It was gratifying serving on that committee, on which all adoption stakeholder, adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, child protection agencies, judges, clerks, were all represented, and having the rhetoric of adoptee rights being quoted back to me by these people, who many in the greater adoptee community would distrust as enemies. Yet they got it. Why? Because we were able to impose our political will on them. Frankly, the only reason we are talking about compromising on this issue is the utter failure of most adoptee activists to realize that this is an issue of power. What I have asked for over a decade now in various fora is who exactly empowered these activists to negotiate for adoptees? Were they chosen through election to bargain for adoptees? Nope. They are self-selected and self-anointed. I don’t want to hear lofty sentiments about politics being the art of compromise, because when legislators compromise, they have to face their constituents and voters. When self-anointed activists bargain away the rights of adoptees, they are accountable to no one. No one. They pat themselves on the back and never have to face the people who they’ve harmed. I’m not willing to cut them any slack.

    Now, I don’t speak for BN, and I don’t speak for CalOpen. But I will say this. If your self-anointed group of activists wake up one day and decide you’ve been grant the power to bargain away somebody else’s rights without their say-so, then I hope you catch hell, you deserve it. Why would a national group, or group from another state, address your legislation? That’s the way it works, once you put a bill in play, it becomes a pinata, and the public can weigh in on it. If you haven’t accounted for blowback and feedback, then I have to wonder what the heck you’re doing introducing legislation in the first place.
    I could go on. The difference between arguing needs versus rights. How to organize. But this is enough for now.

    • What I wouldn’t give for more political will! Yes Ron I agree adoptee rights, like any other issue, boils down to having political will. Organizing. MONEY. One if my fears, oddly, is that the more openness in adoption the less political will the movement will have. Many younger adoptees don’t (perceive they) need access laws. They have their facts. The movement may eventually die out, rendered moot by openness and DNA testing. Anachronistic secrecy laws will get cleaned off the books in some statutory maintenance bill in 50 years. Cold comfort when we’re all dead.

  • This is clearly an issue that people feel strongly about, and it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s surprising that a group of people committed to clear cut equal rights for all adoptees would get fired up over this. If the argument is that legislation allowing a veto of records is harmful to many and difficult to undo, it helps to understand the desperation of groups fighting for full access. “Context” is baffling to me, as if there would be circumstances in which it would be ok for some to not receive records. The main problem I see with any legislation that allows vetos or exceptions or limits – is that basically it keeps all the shameful secrets, well… secret, until all the birthparents and adoptees from the era of “shame” have died off. Being ok with this seems to be equal to giving up on the entire cause that Basted Nation is committed to.

    • Agreed. But current legislation is moving forward with rights for so many!! BN was proud to post that of the 5 ‘free states’ that have unrestricted access to records- 22, 304 adult adoptees have gained access to their OBC between 2000-2015. Sherie, how many adoptees received access to their files in Ohio in 2015 and what were the percentage of birth parents who denied this right? Look at the numbers and we will talk.

  • Karen, I believe our push for open records will become irrelevant only if adoptees no longer believe they have a civil right to their original birth certificates. DNA will not tell an adoptee where or when s/he was born. Only the OBC can do that. It would be interesting to know how often those facts were changed on amended birth certificates. Or how often an alias name was placed on the OBC instead of the birth mother’s legal name. My adoptive father signed my amended birth certificate, replacing the attending physician’s signature. A falsified document if I ever saw one.

  • Dear Mr. Luce;
    Thank you for addressing adoption rights issues and all the politics which surrounds this broad topic. It seems your blog this week targets the adversary groups who feel slighted that we all don’t follow them off the legislative cliff of no return- too funny! Groups like BN and their offspring CalOpen haven’t got a clue, nor are realistic or pragmatic on dealing with government & politics. It is time these groups realize nobody in legislation wants to hear from them and in fact, are a detriment to our efforts. Thanks for your blog and looking forward to more positive topics.

    • Thanks. For what it’s worth (and I’ve said this in other places), I think Bastard Nation has a keen and deep understanding of the legislative process. I think most folks have a problem with some of their tactics, more specifically in their personalized public attacks on individuals who happen to disagree.

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