Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
… Franklin D. Roosevelt
Birth mothers were promised confidentiality at the time they relinquished their children.
Unsealing birth certificates to adopted adults will cause higher abortion rates and lower adoption rates.
If adopted adults learn their birth mother’s true identity, the adoptees will stalk them and force themselves on their birthparents.
Birth mothers’ rights to anonymity trump adoptees’ rights to know the truth about themselves.
Don’t search for your birth mother because she’ll slam the door in your face.
Birth mothers don’t want to remember their painful pasts.
Adoptees are just not interested in finding their first parents.
Adoptees are psychologically challenged. They have more difficulties in dealing with their emotional problems than non-adoptees.
An adoptee who searches for a birth parent takes a big chance of wreaking havoc on his or her Forever Family.
Unsealing birth certificates to adopted adults will harm the institution of adoption and harm the lives of many innocent people.
Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. [paraphrased]
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Illinois HB 4623, the compromise birth certificate bill that does not treat all adopted adults equally, has been revived to live another day.
A QUICK REVIEW
On March 13, 2008, HB 4623 whizzed through Sponsor Representative Feigenholtz’ Adoption Reform Committee by a vote of 8 -1. And just imagine! It was sent on to the House for a first reading on that very same day in March. In April, it had a short second reading. Now, according to the rules of the General Assembly, it was time for the bill to stand before the entire House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill received three different deadlines to come to the floor of the house for a vote and as each deadline rolled around, the bill received yet another extension. The third extension came on the last day of the official House Session, May 30th. But this time the bill was rereferred to the Rules Committee where according to House Rules it will remain potentially viable until the November veto session, when its sponsors are allowed to bring it back to the floor of the House for a vote.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
During this summer interval House rules allow sponsors to amend and alter the bill in any way they see fit in an effort to garner enough votes for passage. Summer is the time for negotiations, especially for contentious bills such as HB 4623. The politicians and their flunkies will not take the bill back to the public. Why should they? We already had our chance at the super speedy hearing held back in March.
This summer interval when the bill stays in the Rules Committee is like “Let’s Make a Deal.” I’ll vote for your bill if you vote for mine. Favors are called in and leverage is applied.
When a bill is rerefered to the Rules Committee, it does not need to go through any more committee hearings or any short House readings. HB 4623 may very well have been chopped to pieces and completely rewritten. But no matter. The bill can still go directly from Rules back to the floor of the house for a vote during the veto session. No more input or votes needed from committees. No more input needed from opponents or supporters. No more publicity needed!
Just schedule the bill and then vote as quickly and as quietly as you can.
This is all kosher, folks. It’s part of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
I continue to oppose HB 4623 because it is a compromise birth certificate bill. It does not treat all adopted adults equally. Some adoptees will get left behind. Of that I’m certain. And I’ll bet the farm that we won’t recognize any “new and improved” version of HB 4623 that comes through now. It won’t get better; it can only get worse.
I predict that there will be more restrictions and conditions added to the new and improved version of HB 4623. I predict confidentiality for birth mothers will be granted for longer time periods. This in turn would create even more tiers of adoptees who can or cannot request an original birth certificate. And I also predict that birth mothers will be granted even wider powers and more options for preventing the state from issuing an original birth certificate to adoptees.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
A little bit of schmoozing with lawmakers during the summer may pay dividends when the November Veto Session comes around.
“It will not always be summer: build barns.”… Hesiod
Many state offices are now dark. Everybody down in Springfield has gone fishing or they’re out on the golf course. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t working. Almost all of the members of our House Representatives keep an office open year round in their hometowns and here is where you can reach them during the summer recess. Plan to contact your representative. You’re a constituent, after all!
Telephone for an appointment. When you meet your representative find out what her or his position is on adoptee rights in general and on HB 4623 in particular. Exchange viewpoints. Look for some common ground. It helps any negotiations when you can first find some part of the bill upon which you can both agree.
Just keep your goal in mind. You’re there to remind your representative about the failure of HB 4623 to address the rights of all adopted adults. Explain how the bill compromises our rights. Tell your rep what a true adoptee birth certificate bill should be like. Urge him or her to vote NO to HB 4623 in the veto session so that next year we can write a true adoptee birth certificate bill; one which will unseal original birth certificates for all adopted adults, unconditionally and upon request. Also, be sure to leave some literature about the bill. A single page Bullet Point Sheet is good.
If making a personal visit to your representative doesn’t work for you, why not try a telephone conversation. Ask for a few minutes when he or she has time to chat with a constituent. Follow the same guidelines as above. Then follow up by mailing him or her some printed material.
If you prefer to communicate with your rep by mail, then by all means, go ahead and write. But please remember to keep it short and sweet. Long and detailed personal histories and pages of explanations about HB 4623 will probably be sentenced to the shredder. Very few legislators want to wade through some lengthy legislative packet, beautiful and informative as you know it to be.
Write to the media. Any time is a good time to get your opinions into the newspapers. Most of us who write may never see our letters in print. But if even one of us gets a letter into one newspaper – just think of how many people you are reaching. So I urge everyone to write to their local newspapers because your letter could be that “one.” Watch your newspapers for any sort of related adoption stories. Often you can piggyback on them. These articles can be your foot in the door.
And while you’re at it, why not write to lots of the state representatives.
And don’t forget to blog, blog, blog.
It’s not over till the fat lady sings. And this fat lady ain’t singin’!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"Confidential Intermediary: Marriage"
Illinois Adoption Act 750ILCS 50, Section 18.12
Legislative Intent: The General Assembly recognizes that it is the basic right of all persons to apply for and receive, uncondtionally, at the age of majority, a license to wed. The General Assembly also recognizes that there are circumstances under which a parent of the bride or groom may have compelling reasons for forbidding the marriage. In an effort to balance these interests, the General Assembly supports the public policy that a marriage license shall be issued to petitioners only after all parents have signed an Affidavit of Approval of Marriage.
Section 18.12 (a)
Any couple wishing to enter into the holy state of matrimony shall first petition the esteemed state of Illinois for a Marriage Confidential Intermediary .(MCI) The court will appoint a state sanctioned social worker to be the couple’s Marriage Confidential Intermediary. (MCI)The couple will pay a $250 filing fee to the court, $1000 to the Midwest Confidential Intermediary Marriage Agency, and must show receipt from an authorized jeweler that a diamond engagement ring of no less than 1 caret has been purchased.
Section 18.12 (d)
The MCI shall have the duty of inspecting all public and private information databases and gathering detailed information concerning any previous marriages and divorces of the bride and groom. Relationships of one year or more with a member of the opposite sex will be examined and recorded. Relationships of one month or more with a member of the same sex shall be noted with a red flag. The MCI shall also report any broken engagements, including the size of the diamond in the engagement ring and who kept the ring.
The MCI will make certain that a registered birth certificate is on file for each applicant. Additional, twelve (12 ) of the bride and groom’s genealogical family trees going back at least 4 generations, must be submitted. Adoptees – don’t even bother!
The MCI will scrupulously study all medical histories of both parties. The MCI will rate each petitioner on a Marriage Confidential Intermediary Medical History Information Exchange Scale (MCIMHIES) that will document any history of mumps, measles, chickenpox, whopping cough, or sexually transmitted diseases. One point shall be assigned for each disease. The MCI shall have the authority of the state to subpoena medical records from all doctors who have ever treated the couple.
The total medical scores are as follows:
0 – 1 A marriage made in heaven
2 -3 Risky business
4 + Not a chance.
The MCI will look through all criminal court records for the past 20 years and will report all indictable offenses. A separate report will be filed for any jail sentences served. Both Parole Officers and cell mates will be interviewed by the MCI.
The initial MCI investigation shall be deemed “concluded” after 6 months or 50 typed pages in the file, which ever comes first.
Section 18.12 (f)
The MCI will contact the natural parents of the bride and the groom.
Each parent will be presented with the MCI Top Secret Marriage File (MCITSMF) to scrutinize. The MCI will explain to the parents that upon completion of reading the MCITSMF, they will have 3 options to choose from:
1) This parent does not approve of the wedding. No marriage license shall be issued. Case closed.
2) This parent has concerns or issues about this marriage and therefore the petitioning couple will have to attend MCI counseling sessions 3 times/week for three months at the Midwest Confidential Intermediary Marriage Agency
If there is a blue moon during any of these months, the petitioners shall have to complete one extra month of counseling. . At the end of the sessions, the parent may then chose to agree or not agree to the marriage and a license will be issued or be withheld accordingly.
3) When all four parents agree to the marriage, they will sign an Affidavit of Approval of Marriage. At such time, the state will issue a marriage license to the petitioners.
4) All four parents must agree on the marriage before a license can be issued. Should any of the parents be deceased, the oldest sibling in that person’s family will be designated “in loco parentis” and will cast his/her vote in place of the deceased parent. The oldest sibling will be required to fill out the Marriage Confidential Intermediary Permission to Issue Marriage License Form (MCIPIMLF) as well as show proof of a score of at least 1300 on the SAT exam. If there are no living siblings, then the duty will fall to the Dali Lama.
Section 18.12 (i)
At the conclusion of the MCI investigation, All INFORMATION in the MCI Top Secret Marriage File (MCITSMF) shall be impounded and sealed for 199 years.
Any couple who marries without express permission from the MCI will be charged with the felony criminal charge of “Marrying An Unacceptable Person” and each party shall be subject to a fine of not less than $10,000. If convicted of the felony criminal charge, the bride and groom must serve a sentence of one year as volunteers to help build the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
Any clergyperson who officiates as an unofficial wedding will be subject to a misdemeanor charge of “Marrying a Couple Who Does Not Have an MCI Marrying License.” The collection plate for six consecutive Sunday services will be turned over to the state as a fine for this offense.
Any MCI who does not abide by all of the regulations of the MCI Secrecy Laws shall be subject to the felony criminal charge of “Spilling the Beans.” Imprisonment will be for the rest of his or her natural life.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Re: Withdrawal of Bastard Nation from A Day for Adoptee Rights
The Executive Committee of Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization announces with regret the withdrawal of our organizational co-sponsorship and official participation in A Day for Adoptee Rights, (DAR) scheduled for July 20-25 during the National Conference of State Legislature's annual meeting in New Orleans. We had planned to hold a "Bastard Boot Camp Teach-In" on July 20, participate in the protest on July 22, and help staff the DAR space inside the Mariol Convention Center July 23-25.
We sincerely regret any inconvenience or discouragement this decision may cause.
As of this writing the event itself has not been canceled, only Bastard Nation's co-sponsorship and participation. Please check the DAR website for updates on the status of the event. http://adopteerights.net/nulliusfilius/
Bastard Nation has been concerned for some time about the cost effectiveness of the project. While many people exhibited an interest in attending all or part of the event, the number of people who actually registered or made a serious commitment to attend was minimal. There were also hidden costs at the convention center, of which DAR and BN were not aware of until recently, which put our participation extremely over budget.
Bastard Nation believes that the Day for Adoptee Rights project is a sound idea. There is no dispute between BN and DAR. We have concluded that this is not the time or place for Bastard Nation to take part in a Day for Adoptee Rights. The cost of the event this year spiraled and did not balance with the number of participants coming forward to show our strength to the politicians who hold the keys to the records cabinets. Bastard Nation is an all volunteer organization that works on the foundational financial principle of bringing you the best bang for your buck. Spending several thousand dollars in member dues and donations on a project that at this point was sputtering is fiscally irresponsible, movement careless, and takes time and funds away from legislative and educational activities that can make a direct difference now.
Moreover, we are concerned with the unsolicited and unwanted participation of Abrazo Adoption Agency in San Antonio, Texas. Unknown to DAR and BN until just a few days ago, Abrazo has been raising funds for the event in DAR's name. http://apps.facebook.com/causes/85456?recruiter_id=15092383
These funds went and continue to go directly to the agency, raising huge ethical issues for Bastard Nation and the equal access movement. Records and identity access is about our rights and has no connection with the marketing schemes of adoption agencies. BN has a long-standing, hard-line policy of accepting no support from the adoption industry. Bastard Nation and the adoptee rights movement in general cannot and should not be co-opted or used by the adoption industry to promote its own agenda. We disavow all industry involvement in our work. Any entanglement with the adoption industry endangers the integrity and credibility of the adoptee rights movement.
Although BN solicited funds for our specific DAR activities, the only official fundraising site for DAR is on the DAR site. Do not send funds to any other solicitor.
Bastard Nation is in the process of working with the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson to release the rooms in our reserved block. We will personally contact everyone who registered under our agreement with the hotel about the procedure for you to cancel room reservations should you desire to do so.
We greatly appreciate the work that volunteers from Bastard Nation and A Day for Adoptee Rights have put into this event. Without them and you there is no movement. We applaud your enthusiasm, commitment and we look forward to future activities to restore our rights.
Please write to our Executive Chair, Marley Greiner (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Yours in Bastardy,
The Bastard Nation Executive Committee
Anita Walker Field
Marley Greiner, Executive Chair