BAIT & SWITCH – MICHIGAN STYLE
The original Michigan HB 4896, filed in March, 2008, was such a good bill. It would have allowed adopted adults to access their original birth certificates, unconditionally and without falsifications. It contained a non-binding contact preference form. The bill had no strings attached. It was heard in the House Children & Family Services Committee on March 5, 2008 and passed by a vote of 5-3.
However, on the way to the House Floor, HB 4896 was amended. The original intent was gutted.
Here is how HB4896 looks now:
1) Adoptees may request their original birth certificate from the Department of Human Services. Their request must be accompanied by a copy of clearance from a central adoption registry.[note: see HB 6287]
2) A Confidential Intermediary may request the original birth record of a client. The birth record will be marked “sealed record only.”
3) This amendatory act (HB 4897) does not take effect unless House Bill No.6287 is enacted into law.
See complete text at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/billengrossed/House/htm/2007-HEBH-4896.htm
House Bill 4896 passed on the floor of the House on June 27, 2008.
And the original supporters of HB 4896 cheered.
A brand new companion bill to HB 4896, HB 6287, has been filed and is now making its way very quickly through the halls of the House.
The strings are all attached in this bill. And remember, the amended HB 4896 (HB 4897) cannot go into effect unless House Bill No.6287 is enacted into law.
HB 6287 will establish a central adoption registry to control the release of identifying information.
Forms will be developed for “former parents” to use to consent to, deny, or revoke a consent to or denial of, the release of identifying information.
The sponsors of this bill have the audacity to continue to use the term contact preference form. A true contact preference form does not legally bind the filing of any form with the issuance of an original birth certificate. This is not the case in HB 6287. What the lawmakers are calling a contact preference form in this particular bill is in reality a disclosure veto or an Affadavit of Nondisclosure.
HB 6827 even provides a form for “adult former siblings” to use to provide notice of the death of a former parent and to consent to the release of the ”adult former sibling's” name and address to an adult adoptee.
And the original supporters of HB 4896 are also cheering on HB 6827.
How much better it would have been if Representative Lisa Wojna, sponsor of the original bill, and her supporters, had pulled their original HB 4896 when the talk of amendments began. The bill should have been killed right then and there!
True, there would be no adoptee rights bill this year in Michigan but there would be the opportunity to try again next year with a clean slate!
Instead, the Michigan people who worked so very hard on the original HB 4896 have given up the fight to have a true adoptee rights law in their state. They have become “Deformers.”
The term “Adoption Deformers” is a phrase coined by Bastard Nation Founder and Executive Chair Marley Greiner. Deformers are adoptees who want us to proceed in baby steps. They ask us to accept compromise bills which contain parental restrictions, disclosure vetoes, contact vetoes, redactions, or confidential intermediary systems in place of unsealing birth records to all adopted individuals in the same way as all non-adopted citizens get their birth certificate.
Deformers claim that these conditional access bills have a better chance of being passed and that is reason enough to grab them. Deformers say that legislation which gives some adoptees access to their original birth certificate is “better than nothing.” They tell us,”It’s the best we could do. It’s all we could get.” They hope that conditional access legislation will serve as an intermediate step to someday getting true adoptee rights legislation. And in the meantime, they tell us, some adoptees will receive their original birth records.
History knows better! Once laws are passed, legislators are very reluctant to revisit the same issue again any time soon. They believe they’ve “fixed the problem” and they want to move on to other issues – not go backwards. Even if some lawmakers do revisit the original issue in the future, there is no indication that they would be more inclined to openness than before the conditional access legislation passed.
Bottom Line: The MICHIGAN BAIT & SWITCH BILLS do not treat all adopted adults equally because “former parents” will be able to block the issuance of an original birth certificate to the adoptee. Some adoptees will be more equal than others in Michigan.