Friends of IllinoisOpen
I have had some contact with Representative Sara Feigenholtz over this last weekend. The bill she and her aide Melisha Mitchell have written has apparently not yet been filed. They had indicated that it would be posted on Tuesday February 19th but so far, it isn’t there.
But no matter what, I was told that the bill will definitely not be an unconditional bill where ALL adoptees in the state would be treated equally.
Representative Feigenholtz’s bill has a disclosure veto. All past denial affidavits that have been filed with the Registry will be honored. Additionally, if this bill should pass, it contains a one year period called an “information campaign” during which a birth parent can file a non-disclosure affidavit which will be honored by the state. If one birth parent files a denial, the birth certificate might still be issued but all information about the other parent will be redacted; that is, whited out.
The bill has a prospective element but that too contains provisions for birth parents to file non-disclosure affidavits.
A good percentage of Illinois’ adopted adults would be able to get their original birth certificate with this proposed bill. But not ALL. The only category of adopted persons that would ALL be able to receive their original birth certificate with no restrictions would be those adoptees born before 1946.
I expected the bill to have been already posted but so far it isn’t. I honestly don’t know why. I could speculate but that isn’t really productive.
The last time I spoke to Representative Feigenholtz was on Sunday, Feb. 17th. I told her about the many of you who have written to her, more than once, to express your opinions but received no reply. She replied that it had something to do with the clerk’s sorting the mail. I told her straight out that she should be listening to you all.
Representative Feigenholtz told me that in her experienced opinion, an unconditional access bill, such as the ones in Oregon, New Hampshire, Alabama and Maine, would NEVER pass in Illinois. She said that if she were to file a 100% unconditional access bill, it would languish and die in the Rules Committee. It would go nowhere. She told me that “it just won’t fly.” Her reason is that the politics of IL are different from these other states.
Representative Feigenholtz maintains that much of the opposition comes from the Chicago Bar Association. I tried very very hard to persuade the Representative that she should be listening to adoptees, not attorneys. I tried to persuade her to go with the contact preference form that was put into place in Oregon and is in the bills of the other open states. I twice sent her the texts of the bills from each of these states plus the text of every contact preference form. I also sent her the latest statistics on how the contact preference forms are being used.
I wish I had better news to report. At this point, this is all I know about what Representative Feigenholtz’s plans.
Now I’ll tell you how I feel personally.
I believe that “ALL” minus even one adoptee, is not ALL, and is therefore not acceptable. If true unconditional access can work so easily in these other states mentioned, then it could work in Illinois too, if people wanted to work hard to make it work. In my opinion, we’re not so different here as the Representative purports. I believe that if you are going to expend so much energy, time, talent and money into a bill that champions adoptee rights, then you don’t stop short of your goal. All adopted adults in Illinois must be treated equally under the law. I believe that we must not leave even one adoptee behind.
I tried to explain to Representative Feigenholtz that a true adoptee rights bill is different than a search/reunion bill. But she doesn’t seem to get it or if she does, she doesn’t want to act on it. She always brings us back to the attorneys who are worried about their clients, (past, present and future). And that is a search/reunion issue. It is not about the human and civil right of every adopted adult to own his or her own truth.
I expressed my opinions, and many more arguments, over and over and over to Representative Feigenholtz. She replied that I’m living in some “sort of dream world.” She says that I don’t live in the real world of politics. That may be true, but I still believe that my dream is better than all of the conditional plans presented - plans which still allow the state to have control over adopted adults.