Wednesday, June 25, 2008
ADOPTEE RIGHTS LEGISLATION: THE BIG LIE
Compromises are on my mind these days. Illinois State Representative Sara Feigenholtz is asking adoptees to compromise and support her bill, HB 4623, which contains a disclosure veto. State Representative Wojna from Michigan is getting ready to introduce two new adoptee rights bills that both contain disclosure vetoes. She has convinced the original supporters of the bill that the only way to get anything passed is to compromise. Representative Feigenholtz says the same thing.
I got to thinking about Oregon’s Measure 58 ballot initiative. It didn’t compromise, did it? Still the Oregon voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of adoptee rights.
I looked at Measure 58 again and the light bulb went on. The really important reason the Oregon electorate approved Measure 58 is because it was presented to the voters as a single issue, without any compromises or birth mother confidentiality clauses. The Oregon voters were asked to say YES or NO to this one sentence:
“Upon receipt of a written application to the State Registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the State of Oregon shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the State Registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Oregon.”
YES or NO? That’s it. What could be easier! There were no confidentiality issues to cloud Oregon’s ballot. There were no compromises offered. No “ifs”, “ands,” or “buts”. It was a single issue to be answered Yes or No. And the YES’s won. If ballot initiatives patterned after Measure 58 were allowed in all states, I believe that they too would be victorious.
Unfortunately, we adoptees cannot look to ballot initiatives to solve our issue. Only half of the states allow them. The financial issues are overwhelming and they carry many complicated rules and regulations which pretty much puts them out of our reach. So we have to look to the state legislatures to make changes.
But the legislators in most states don’t want to address that single issue that was victorious in Oregon. Instead, they want to offer adoptees a compromise. Oh joy! A compromise!
Our great country was founded on compromise. At The Constitutional Convention, James Madison of Virginia received the title of "Father of the Constitution" with his speeches, negotiations, and “attempts at compromise. “
The very structure of our government was agreed upon in the great compromise of 1787. The number of members and duties of both the House of Representatives and the Senate were hammered out in this compromise.
We are steeped in the paradigm of compromise. We are taught from a very young age that we must give a little to get a little so that no one loses everything. We learned at our mothers’ knees that we cannot have our own way all the time. And that’s all well and good.
So here we are. Us. We. Bastards. How do we fit into this paradigm? We are asked to agree to compromise with the state on adoptee rights legislation and when we say NO, we are scorned. We are belittled. We must be left-over radical Commie-Pinkos because we are not conforming to the good old American principle of compromise.
The reality of the issue is that we Bastards will only deal in truths; we will never agree to a compromise which is based upon a lie. But that’s exactly what the state expects us to do. The state expects us to enter into a compromise that is based on the MYTH that birthmothers were promised confidentiality. I call this myth THE BIG LIE. Remember, if you repeat any lie long enough and loud enough, it will eventually become “the truth. “
The state wants us to agree to honor
the birth mother myth. The state actually wants us to buy into THE BIG LIE. The state’s compromise is for adoptees to agree that the adoption act should give all birth mothers an option to deny the issuance of adoptees’ birth certificates; a restriction based upon THE BIG LIE.
If we will agree to this compromise, says the state, then it will agree to give something to us. The state will change its sealed records law to enable some adopted adults to get copies of their birth certificate. If only we’d be reasonable and compromise, says the state, everyone could be satisfied. After all, compromise is the “American Way,” isn’t it?
How slick. How insidious! The state insists that we must agree to honor a premise that we know to be false. We refuse because we will not give validity to their myth. If we did consent to the state’s compromise plans, we would be planting roots for THE BIG LIE right inside the state’s Adoption Code; roots that were never there to begin with.
SO WHAT ABOUT ALABAMA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND MAINE
The legislators in Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine didn’t believe THE BIG LIE. These lawmakers believed that the time had come for adopted adults to be able to access their birth certificates like all other citizens of the state. Very importantly, these state legislators understood that birth records were not sealed to protect the privacy of birth mothers. They knew that birth certificates were never sealed at the time of birth parent relinquishment but only upon the finalization of an adoption. They could see how these facts didn’t fit together with THE BIG LIE. And these lawmakers chose to go with the facts instead of THE BIG LIE.
Thus, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine agreed to issue original birth certificates to all adopted adults, unconditionally and without any falsifications. Adoptees in these states, recognizing the emotional issues involved, agreed to include a voluntary, non-binding contact preference form for birth mothers to use as a private and respectful way to communicate with adoptees. Both sides agreed that either 18 or 21 years of age would be a good age to begin accepting requests from adoptees. Both sides agreed to the procedures that each state would use to issue the certificates.
Now these are compromises made in Heaven!