Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DEFORMERS DO THE DARNDEST THINGS: OPEN LETTER TO ANONYMOUS

On July 28, someone called "Anonymous" replied to my blog "Deformers do the Darndest Things." I had so many things to reply that I decided to open up this new blog to discuss the things He/she brought up:

"Everyone (whether labeled a "reformer for a "deformer") agrees that, ideally, access to records for adult adooptees should be unrestricted. What's your solution? What's your strategy? In which state(s) have you made this happen?

The internet abounds with armchair quarterbacks on this topic. Only a handful are actually having an impact -- whether all at once or incrementally. Meanwhile, millions are dying "left behind."

Dear Anonymous,

I don't agree with you that deformers believe in access to records for all adult adoptees. If they did, they would work to support every good bill that comes along and they would oppose every bad bill that pops up. They would not change the good bill into something they didn't really believe in, would they?

I am not an armchair quarterback who sits at Starbucks and criticizes the plays. I am an active player in the game and I have made an impact in the arena of equal rights for adoptees. I have been a player for 20 years now.

My solution is nothing new. My solution and my ideals are at the very backbone of the adoption reform movement for at least 30 years. My solution is to get bills passed that will restore to adopted adults their unconditional right to access their original birth certificate, without any strings attached.

My first five years I worked strictly in Illinois where I reside. My first activity was in the summer of 1996. I got together with other Illinois adoptees on the Internet to fight the Uniform Adoption Act (The UAA) which had come to our state.

If you don't remember, the UAA was an abominable piece of legislation that legislators, attorneys, agencies and social work professionals were proposing throughout the country. If the UAA had passed, all of our original birth certificates (obcs) would have been sealed for 99 years!

I guess in those days Illinois lawmakers actually paid attention to us because in the fall of 1996, I received a letter from Representative Patricia Lindner, sponsor of the bill. She wrote that after listening to all of the opposition across the state, she had decided NOT to propose the UAA in Illinois.

So now we were on a roll and several of us decided that we didn't want to stop now - we wanted to continue on working to try to capture the gold - an unconditional open records bill. (that's what we called it in those days.)

We spent hours every Sunday in different libraries around the state, painfully writing our bill. Every word was analyzed and re-analyzed. We sweated over each sentence. We poured over each paragraph. It was our labor of love. When we were finished, we had a beautiful, 3-page pure "open records" bill.

When our two companion bills came back from Legislative Publishing, we were in heaven. HB 343 and its companion bill SB 600 were now official.

As we began to lobby for our bill, we of course began to run into opposition. At a meeting of the Adoption Committee of the Chicago Bar Association an attorney told us we should fix up the Adoption Registry instead. And that must have planted some seeds in people's brains because when the deformers got through with our bill, HB 343 had been turned into The Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange, passed into law in 2002. Our original bills had died in committee.

I had my fill of Illinois and so turned my efforts to the national scene. I became a life-time member of Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization. I attended the Chgo convention where the idea for a ballot initiative in Oregon began. After we all went home, about 3 weeks later, Helen Hill (a BN member) was posting to us all her ideas for running a ballot initiative in Oregon.

BN was intimately involved with the campaign for Measure 58. It consumed us for almost 2 years. We all helped out in so many ways and we were ecstatic when it passed overwhelmingly on Nov. 3, 1998. Two years of court battles ensued, but in May, 2000, the law went into effect.

If you have any doubts about Bastard Nation's close involvement with Measure 58, please read Prof. E. Wayne Carp's book, Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation & Ballot Initiative 58. c2004.

Next came Alabama. A member of BN's Executive Committee, Dr. David Ansarti, a resident of Alabama, joined his hands and BN's with the grassroots group AWARE, and by summer of 2000, Alabama passed an unrestricted law.

Then came New Hampshire. Bastard Nation member Janet Allen was elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature. She toiled for almost 3 years and it paid off. In 2005, New Hampshire became another state with open records.

Maine came in 2009. BN was not involved directly with this state, but we do believe that all of the work that we did in the other states surely had an influence on other states then and now.

During this entire 10 year period, BN also worked to keep restrictive bills from passing and we have been pretty darn successful at that too.

You ask what my strategy is. I can send you to our BN website to read our goals - http://www.bastards.org/.
My personal strategy is too long to write here. I'll try to summarize and give you the top two points that would be part of my strategy.

Most important - you absolutely must have a very powerful and influential sponsor. Sometimes it takes a long time to either find one or develop a relationship with the right one. The sponsor needs to be totally committed to passing your bill and totally committed to seeing it all the way through.

Once your find a solid sponsor, you have to develop your core group who are dedicated enough to hang in to the very end. No giving up and no giving in. A core group must be totally in agreement as to the goals of the group. The sponsor and every member of the core group must be in harmony as far as passing only an unconditional bill.

All members must be on the same page as far as what they will do if their bill gets deformed. They must be in agreement that if any restrictions get added and it looks as if they can't get rid of them, then they will pull the bill rather than send on a bill over which they no longer have absolute control. There must be a really firm covenant between sponsor and core group.

With the above two strategies, you won't get a deformer bill in your state.

18 comments:

Von said...

Trouble with Anonymous is you never quite know who they realy are and once you've given away all your strategies they may be rubbing their happy hands.
Good wishes for the ongoing hard work and the dedication.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so if I am following you. You worked to get records opened in Illinois for 20 years.

And you failed.

So you want our endorsement because you want another 20 years of no records for anyone?

I mean, I just want to be clear here.

You are against most adoptees getting their rights?

I believe the executive chair of Bastard Nation used a tiered system to get her rights. Why did she not stand in solidarity with those that had not been given their rights? Why do you rail against arbitrary discrimination and yet at the same time take advantage of it?

How are we supposed to take you seriously when you also rail against people fighting for unconditional access? Like you did with the folks you belittled for lobbying state legislators for unconditional access?

I mean WTF?

You are against people lobbying for unconditional access, you are against the Green Ribbon campaign, so much so that you want to put discord as a tag-line in your email.

You want to stop everyone from moving forward so we can admire how you have failed for 20 years?

Have you ever considered getting therapy?

Because, you crazy.

Attila The Mom said...

Oh dear. I don't think reading for comprehension is anonymoose's strong point.

Mary Lynn Fuller said...

I refuse to lower myself to the level of Anonymous. It is his/her type that is doing harm to the adoption reform movement and I don't like it one bit.

To set the record straight with the Green Ribbon Campaign - There was confusion about IL Open being under their "umbrella" and that of Adoption Reform Illinois. Therefore it is important for us to remind folks that we are not affiliated with them. We are strictly volunteer and DO NOT accept money. Therefore we do not want money sent to them intended for us. We try to make it clear that we do DO NOT accept money, not even donations.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...it looks like there's more than one "anonymous" involved in this discussion. No biggie.

Anyone with your level of experience, then, must understand that legislative reform is based on the principle of compromise and incremental change to get most of what you want (and then coming back later for the rest).

All this "holier than thou" rhetoric about "clean bills" only serves to make our opponents chortle with glee when they see factions of the adoption reform movement at each other's throats. It is troubling to me that you imply that BN was the ONLY group involved in successes in Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine. The fact is, those states represent examples of what can happen when people combine forces and resources for a common goal.

Oregon's Measure 58 is a prime example of how to get "no compromise" change -- because, unlike a bill, no one could amend the wording on the ballot. The public either voted "yes" or "no." Why aren't people uniting to raise money for more ballot initiatives? They're costly, but if we care as much as we claim to about this issue, there is money out there. So far, Helen Hill and OARA are the only people who've put their money where their mouths are to the degree necessary.

BN was formed out of dissatisfaction with the status quo. But, like any movement, after making its initial splash or two, it too has become the status quo. One "clean" bill every three or four years isn't cutting it.

So, once again, before one INEFFECTIVE person casts stones at other MORE (but not completely) effective people, I'd suggest you have an actual PROVEN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION that applies to something more recent than fighting the UAA 20 years ago.

BD said...

You are correct. Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine show what people can do when they get together. In those states people who believe in NOT compromising the civil rights of adopted people got together.

Why are you afraid of posting under your real name?

BD said...

Von, Anita didn't give away any state secrets. It's all in the Basic Bastard and our policy statements.

Shea Grimm said...

I don't know who you are "anonymous", but since I co-wrote the Oregon ballot measure, argued before the Oregon Supreme Court in defense of its description and wording prior to publication, left my home and travelled to Oregon to campaign for it on the ground, and once it passed, recruited the lawyer to argue in defense of the suit against it, and along with Helen Hill was the primary player in its passage as set forth in E. Wayne Carp's book on the subject, let me tell you that you are woefully misinformed. Oregon was a BN project from start to finish.

What you don't seem to grasp is that until those of us you are dismissing came along, NO ONE was talking about adoptee rights. My website, An Adoptee's Right to Know, was, along with Deni Castelluci's Voices of Adoption, the first websites about adoptees on the Internet. My articles on the legislative history of sealed records, compromise legislation, CI systems, and finally, reform from the perspective of due process and equal protection were the first of their kind. Alfia's work on the Bastard Nation newsletter and website, and Ron's LDA work is still cutting edge today, and did more for adoptee rights than anything before or since. Marley, bless her, has taken it almost entirely on her shoulders the last few years and has done an admirable job playing defense against deformist bills which are huge setbacks to adoptee rights just as much as the UAA was.

While there is value in the theoretical in and of itself, a concept you fail to grasp, Bastard Nation as a team took the theoretical and turned it into real world success. There would be no state with unconditional open records (other than AK and KS, which were never sealed) if we hadn't come along. In a few short years we managed what the adoption deformers had never managed. Not only the ballot measure in Oregon, but the Alabama and NH bills, which were led by Bastard Nation members. You and all those you "represent" have done nothing. Zero. You were obstructionist during Oregon and useless in Alabama and NH. And by "you", don't think I don't know who you are, "Anonymous". You and your ilk haven't changed your anti-adoptee rights, defeatist, anti-intellectual tune in decades. Even had you failed to ever pass any legislation, I could at least admire you if you had contributed anything worthwhile to adoptee rights in the form of humor, empowerment, dignity, powerful writings, anything. But you and your "movement" are full of a bunch of sanctimonious windbags who are spouting the same uninformed self-righteous crap now that you were 20 years ago. You remind me of the wingnuts who, afraid of the bloggers who are doing the work the establishment should do, derisively snort that bloggers are just sitting in their pajams eating cheetos in their mother's basements. We are lawyers, physicists, experienced politicos who came to adoptee rights from a vast and varied and highly educated background. We bothered to do what the kleenex-passing social workers and professional conference organizers had never done...we learned about or knew about the law and politics before we tried to change the law.

You wouldn't know a rights argument if one came up and slapped you upside your empty head.

Jack said...

I am disgusted! Same old hissie-fit, know nothing, pissing contest, deformer bullshit. All deformers do is to carp, cry, and complain about BN's successes while sitting on their asses whistling Dixie. Like Groucho said as he extended his middle finger, "Sit on it and rotate. When you get to the elbow tell them Groucho sent you.

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, "No adoptee is free until all adoptess are free."

The only way to freedom for adoptees is to break the chains and cast off the shackles of closed records. Moreover, this must be done without compromise or allowing deformers to muddy the waters. It can never be allowed that a bill passes purporting to be an adoptee rights bill that contains "preferences" that are in fact vetoes, statutory vetoes, mandatory CIs, mandatory counseling, whitehouts or blackouts, or any other obstruction to the adoptee obtaining their OBC in exactly the same way via the same process as any non-adoptee.

And, unlike anonomous who is either afraid or ashamed to give their name, I proudly give you mine:

Monsignor John W. Sweeley, Th.D.
Life Member Bastard Nation

Anonymous said...

Wow - quite a reaction to a secondary point, which most of you appear to have missed. BN deserves all credit due for what they (or we?!?) have accomplished. But it's time for a new, more effective strategy. That's all I'm saying.

Back to my original issue, directed at the owner of this site. At the time I wrote it, I didn't realize that this person criticizing the new IL law actually LIVES IN Illinois!!
So why didn't you, all-knowing Illinois Bastard, rally the troops, find a bill sponsor, raise some money, burn your vacation time, and create a competing no-compromise bill? Why didn't you live at the Capitol for a couple of years, get it through both houses, and persuade the governor to sign it? Wouldn't that have been the proper way to show the "deformers" the error of their ways while the subject was on the table?

I stand by my comments about armchair quarterbacks. Talk is cheap.

And, Shea, it's interesting that you failed to mention Denny Glad and Caprice East in Tennessee, along with the ruling from the TN State Supreme Court, which provided an essential precedent for the Oregon Court of Appeals Ruling. The fact that the TN legislature's "compromise" was allowing a veto specifically in cases of rape or incest is hardly an affront to adoptee rights (except, perhaps to those whose lack of emotional maturity leaves them unable to see the world from someone else's perspective).
Again, you have beautifully illustrated my point.

How much good could happen IN OUR LIFETIMES if we all decided to grow up and work together?

triona said...

I think whoever is posting these anonymous comments is either

a) a disgruntled deformer, or

b) someone in the adoption industry trying to stir up trouble and divide the adoption reform community. Perhaps Melisha Mitchell, who lost her AAC rep status over Illinois HB 5428. She posted anonymously to a couple of mailing lists during the battle over HB 5428, lauding the bill's praises but not disclosing her own self-interests in the matter. She also admitted to me after the IL Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that she "knows what people are saying because she follows all the blogs."

Or, for all I know, it's both a) and b).

Misinformation about the Green Ribbon Campaign and Adoption Reform Illinois is also being spread. For the record, while GRC welcomes dues, they are not required, and ARI is wholly volunteer. In these comments someone appears to be using GRC/ARI to bait Illinois Open. Whoever it is is absolutely not speaking for us. While GRC/ARI and Illinois Open may have their differences of opinion, one thing we agree on is unconditional access.

I have to wonder if the flames of deform are being stoked by those who have a vested interest in conditional legislation (e.g. gaining political clout and profits off conditional birth cert access). People who don't understand the nuances of reform get sucked in, both by actual deformers (people who support conditional access) and faux-formers (industry wags pretending to be deformers).

Those of us who believe in true adoption reform for ALL adoptees will not be bullied by people who hide behind anonymity. And for the record, I have nothing to do with BN. (I am however affiliated with GRC/ARI.) I got into this because I'm yet another bastard whose rights have been compromised away, and I'll be damned if I sit by and let it happen to other people.

And like Jack, I post under my real name.

Triona Guidry
http://www.73adoptee.com

BD said...

Thanks. Triona I was going to post something myself about this.

It's apparent that certain elements of the deform crowd are trying to put a wedge between Bastard Nation and the Green Ribbons by posting spurious comments that imply BN has dissed GR in some way. This is absolutely false. I am personally friendly with you and Ann. We have worked with GR quite nicely. Off the top of my head I can cite Illinois and Maryland (safe haven) campaigns.

That Illinois Open and GR have had some differences is no secret, but BN and Illinois Open are two separate organizations and BN certainly doesn't dictate to Illinois Open, despite what some people like to write. And no matter differences, BN, IO, and GR have stood as a united front in opposition to the Feigenholtz machine for years. Any attempt by deformers to spread rumors to the contrary is an attempt to spread discord (yes, I'll use that word) amongst the genuine adoptee rights movement, to discredit all the organizations, and to confuse the AdoptionLand public. It's a classic smear job, and it won't work.

As for "anonymous," there may be more than one, but go here to read what at least one of them is saying: http://nsbloodline.blogspot.com/ Putting together various posts on that blog, and comments on BGA and Bastardette, it appears that Madame is Michelle Edmonds, from the Adoptee Rights Protest/ADR folks. Also the host of the 'net radio Adoption Show, which I've appeared on. On her radio show front page Edmonds links to Illinois Open. http://www.theadoptionshow.com/home2.php Isn't that interesting. Edmonds says she supported full access in Illinois, yet she attacks those very organizations which carried that banner.

We have real business to do, and deformrers are creating a distraction. Let's get back to business.

Shea Grimm said...

I don't think the latest "anonymous" is the same person who wrote the previous posts. However, they're equally as misguided. This Anonymous writes:

"The fact that the TN legislature's "compromise" was allowing a veto specifically in cases of rape or incest is hardly an affront to adoptee rights (except, perhaps to those whose lack of emotional maturity leaves them unable to see the world from someone else's perspective). "

That paragraph exposes you for the hack that you are. The TN law is full of problems, but the most egregious was the rape and incest and contact veto provisions which were not only an affront to adoptee rights, but singlehandedly did more to further the notion of bastard shame than perhaps any other capitulation dreamed up by the deformers. That you would champion these provisions, and suggest that anyone who doesn't has a "lack of emotional maturity" speaks volumes about where you're coming from in this debate...and honey, it isn't from an adoptee rights perspective.

Doe v. Sundquist would have been more useful to us had it stemmed from an actual equal access bill and had it not come about, Oregon would have been our "Doe". I don't think Denny Glad would appreciate being used by you to push your deformist agenda behind your anonymous keyboard.

Mary Lynn Fuller said...

I went back through my blogs and Madame Compassionateless is a LIAR. It could be that Michelle is angry because she asked for some information a while back and I asked why she wanted it - no reply so she is obviously a USER and does not like it when she does not get her way. But the blog she wrote is all uncalled for and she is definitely one of the largest problems we have among the Internet adoption community. May she become busy with another interest and leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

Vintage narcissism from the usual suspects. When you have no viable, mature response to legitimate criticism, obfuscate the issue and attack the source(s). No wonder we choose to remain "anonymi" in the face of such disingenuity.

We're still waiting to hear from Bastard Grannie Annie. Tearing people down is easy -- but doesn't feel so good when it happens to you, does it?

Shea Grimm said...

"Anon", I know blogs are probably hard to navigate with your limited skills, but Grannie Annie has replied in detail to your attacks with separate blog entries. You've continued to spout the same nonsensical lines since then, but as they are devoid of anything resembling intelligent discourse, there's really not much more she probably feels she can say. You obviously aren't interested in a rational discussion, so what's the point of engaging you except to correct the record for anyone reading who might not know the facts? You said it yourself, you're just here to tear people down, for you, it's not about any legitimate discussion of adoptee rights.

Amanda said...

@Anon 2:34

"The fact that the TN legislature's "compromise" was allowing a veto specifically in cases of rape or incest is hardly an affront to adoptee rights (except, perhaps to those whose lack of emotional maturity leaves them unable to see the world from someone else's perspective).
Again, you have beautifully illustrated my point."

I am an Adult Adoptee and the product of rape, who was born in Tennessee. In order to access my OBC, the State invaded the personal life of my Original Mother, upsetting her and causing her to rapidly lose 15lbs. She, like ALL mothers, was told that I would always have access to her identifying information if I wanted it. It's the {false} condition under which she surrendered. So when the State came calling and did a horrendous job at explaining what was going on, needless to say, she was upset and confused.

I regret that others cannot see Adoptee Rights from my perspective--the adoptee who everyone always wants to leave behind. I am supposed to speak out for open access with everyone else but be gratefully and graciously willing to "take one for the team" when it's time to throw adoptees-like-me under the bus if need be to get something to pass.

Call that immature, but I still fail to see what I did wrong to deserve unequal treatment to not only non-adopted citizens but to other adopted citizens as well. The state-approved hiding of mothers who conceived under certain circumstances is just another instance of women being told to be ashamed of what men have done to them.

The "affont" to Adoptee Rights is not only the Disclosure Veto but the RESTRAINING ORDER as well, which ALL adoptees MUST agree to in order to receive their OBC--the government must invade the personal lives of Original Mothers (who also have to pay a fee on top of what the adoptee pays) to get it off (it actually never comes off--you're allowed or disallowed contact through it). There is no equality in Tennesee. We do not have equality because we STILL do not access our OBCs the same way everyone else does...AND we trade in our Constitutional right to be a free person, innocent until proven guilty, and free from punishment unless we've done something wrong, all in order to get an OBC.

The ruling was great but it contradicts its own law. If there is no fundamental right to confidentiality in adoption as there is in abortion, then why all of these rediculous provisions?

Amanda said...

@Anon 2:34

"The fact that the TN legislature's "compromise" was allowing a veto specifically in cases of rape or incest is hardly an affront to adoptee rights (except, perhaps to those whose lack of emotional maturity leaves them unable to see the world from someone else's perspective).
Again, you have beautifully illustrated my point."

I am an Adult Adoptee and the product of rape, who was born in Tennessee. In order to access my OBC, the State invaded the personal life of my Original Mother, upsetting her and causing her to rapidly lose 15lbs. She, like ALL mothers, was told that I would always have access to her identifying information if I wanted it. It's the {false} condition under which she surrendered. So when the State came calling and did a horrendous job at explaining what was going on, needless to say, she was upset and confused.

I regret that others cannot see Adoptee Rights from my perspective--the adoptee who everyone always wants to leave behind. I am supposed to speak out for open access with everyone else but be gratefully and graciously willing to "take one for the team" when it's time to throw adoptees-like-me under the bus if need be to get something to pass.

Call that immature, but I still fail to see what I did wrong to deserve unequal treatment to not only non-adopted citizens but to other adopted citizens as well. The state-approved hiding of mothers who conceived under certain circumstances is just another instance of women being told to be ashamed of what men have done to them.

The "affont" to Adoptee Rights is not only the Disclosure Veto but the RESTRAINING ORDER as well, which ALL adoptees MUST agree to in order to receive their OBC--the government must invade the personal lives of Original Mothers (who also have to pay a fee on top of what the adoptee pays) to get it off (it actually never comes off--you're allowed or disallowed contact through it). There is no equality in Tennesee. We do not have equality because we STILL do not access our OBCs the same way everyone else does...AND we trade in our Constitutional right to be a free person, innocent until proven guilty, and free from punishment unless we've done something wrong, all in order to get an OBC.

The ruling was great but it contradicts its own law. If there is no fundamental right to confidentiality in adoption as there is in abortion, then why all of these rediculous provisions?