Sunday, June 27, 2010



Deformers: Adoptees who have "just given in. They support bills that fall short of being unconditional birth certificate access for all adopted adults.

Social change is traditionally a very slow process. Adoptee rights are no exception. But no matter how long it takes, it is vital that we continue to pursue the goal of UNCONDITIONAL access to birth documents for ALL adoptees. A defeat in one state is never a reason to stop reaching for our goal in other states.

Historically, there are many groups who oppose our objectives of unconditional access to original birth certificates: Right to Life organizations, church groups, adoptive parents associations, attorneys, bar associations, the ACLU, adoption agencies, the NCFA and other lobbying groups, and many state legislators. Even the courts are not on our side. The judges almost never rule in favor of issuing an original birth certificate to an adoptee unless it is a case of imminent life or death.

Considering all these big and powerful groups pointing their guns at us, we "old-timers" can pat ourselves on the back.

Pure civil rights bills for adoptees have been passed in four states since 1998: Oregon (Ballot Initiative, 1998), Alabama (2000), New Hampshire (2005) and Maine (2009). Kansas and Alaska had the good sense to never seal their adoption records.

Facing so much opposition wherever we turn, we used to be able to always depend upon two special groups to always work with us - birth mothers and adoptees themselves. We "old timer" adoptees are still around and we are still fighting for equal rights for every adoptee. Our goal - we will not leave one adoptee behind.

But a new group of adoptees has come onto the scene. They are impatient with what they call our slow progress. They are eager to get a bill passed. They will trade away the civil rights of many adoptees in order to pass a conditional bill which is centered on adoptee searches and reunions. In fact, this is how Registries and Confidential Intermediaries were born. These programs were offered up by the states as alternatives to bills that sought to unseal original birth certificates and some adoptees jumped right onto the search and reunion bandwagon.

These new groups of adoptees started out in the back rooms of politician's offices. They were on the spot when a bill was in trouble. They would come forward to offer alternatives and compromises in an effort to keep a bill alive. They told everyone that it was wise to take baby steps first because in the long run they would reach the goal sooner. We tried to tell them that a civil right is not a civil right at all unless it covers 100% of the people. But their battle cry is "Something is better than nothing."

They think they are adoption reformers. They are not!

They are ADOPTION DEFORMERS and it is most discouraging to see them moving into the center ring. No longer do they wait for a good bill to be proposed and then wait in the wings to see how it is faring. Now-a-days, deformers are actually authoring bills which contain all sorts of conditional access alternatives: disclosure vetoes, contact vetoes, white-outs, contact preference forms, black-outs, tier systems. registries, sandwich bills, intermediary systems, and all sorts of mixed-up combinations, all of which, in one way or another, pit birth mother against adoptee and all of which deprive some adoptees of getting their original birth certificate.

The new Illinois deformer law has a provision for the left-out adoptees, the ones against whom birth mothers file a denial form which prohibits the state from issuing them an original birth certificate. They get to come back in five years and try again. If their birth mothers still want their denial form enforced then these adoptees must wait yet another 5 years. Altogether, these adoptees may have to wait 10 years to try and get an original birth certificate.

But wait a minute! Illinois adoptees born before January 1, 1946, can get their original birth certificates today. Those born after January 1, 1946, will have to wait until November 15, 2011, to see if their birth mothers have filed denial forms. And Representative Sara Feigenholtz has the nerve to call this new law an equal rights bill for adoptees. It it weren't so sad, it might be laughable

"Today, we're opening a new chapter in adoption history in Illinois where we can finally say that all families are created equal."

[Representative Sara Feigenholtz, The Illinois Observer, May 21, 2010. "Representative Sara Feigenholtz to Grant Illinois Adoptees Original Birth Certificates Gets Governor Pat Quinn's Approval."]

Deformers pretend to be concerned about restoring a statutory right to all adopted men and women but if they can make a fast "deal" - they'll trade in poor old grandma.

One huge shock recently is that the 38-year-old American Adoption Congress ( AAC) has gone "deformer." Their shameful mission statement on adoptee rights legislation reads:

"American Adoption Congress supports state-by-state legislative efforts to obtain access for adult adoptees to their original birth certificates. AAC prefers unrestricted access to this document for all adult adoptees but will accept compromise legislation if, in the opinion of AAC and local supporters, such a compromise is necessary to obtain the greatest access for the greatest number of adopted persons."

Don't let the deformers persuade you that passing a true adoptee rights bill cannot be accomplished. Recently, both New Hampshire and Maine had problems with getting their bills through the first time out. Supporters of the bills pulled the bills rather than allow them to continue on through the legislative process. The supporters were not willing to take a chance on passing a bad bill. So, they came back the very next year and the good bills were passed in both states. Today, 100% of adopted citizens in Maine and New Hampshire get their original birth certificate exactly as all the non-adopted citizens do
Why not get  on board.


Von said...

Oh shame!So complicated, so unnecessary, so discriminatory, so many crystal balls showing non-existent problems.

Mary Lynn Fuller said...

We now have another group to fight - the deformers. We have got to come out in nigher numbers than they and educate the public that it is simply wrong to leave one adult adoptee behind. We will win so the sooner the deformers join us, the better for the adoption reform movement. They are currently a big hinderance and we must knock them down, lift them back up and educate them as to why it is so important to be a reformer.

Anonymous said...

Deformers suck.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean "darndest"

Just another oooops on your part right?

Anonymous said...

Everyone (whether labeled a "reformer" or a "deformer") agrees that, ideally, access to records for adult adoptees 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."