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.


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!


Lisa Kay, Fla said...

Brava! Your writing skills are to be commended for making this very complex argument sparkle with clarity.

A link to your blog appeared in my inbox tonight, attached to a Google Alert I had set up for "birthmothers". I am a 1963 Florida Adoptee ISO my bMother, so you didn't need to convert me. But you did a wonderful job of nailing down the huge problem with the Illinois proposed legislation, illustrating it perfectly.

Good luck with your effort. Thank you for sharing your writing talents with the world and with the open records movement.

Your newest fan,
Lisa Kay
FL Adoptee ISO bParents
Born Jan. 1963 - Gainesville, FL
bM - "Sandra Strickland"
bF - UF Law - Class of 1964 or 1965

ps - I have a friend in the IL effort who is a fab activist & writer named Triona.

Anonymous said...

As always Anita, you have hit the nail on the head. I can remember talking to a rep on the C&F Law Comm. here in NH & he was pointing out to me what was at stake & asking if I was sure that I didn't want to compromise instead of gambling away the whole bill. He was telling me that I may "lose" everything if it went on a straight up or down vote. I told him that there wasn't anything to "lose". It could either stay the same (sealed) or there could be equal access. There was no reason to compromise. Either you believe that everyone should have the civil right or you don't really believe it's a civil right. If you truly believe something then how could you possibly compromise that belief away? Find a sponsor who has enough clout to hold the bill to a straight up or down vote. If it goes down, then return the next session for another vote.
Janet Allen

Mary Lynn Fuller said...

Anita, this is so well written and I do think is a wonderful explanation to those who might not quite understand what is going on. As you know while I'm helping someone I'm cussing sealed records more than the usual right now.

Janet, I agree whole heartedly with you that if a bill goes down, return the next session for a vote. The compromising that is going on in some states is not a step toward adoption reform movement in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely true, Anita! There can be no compromise to adoptees' rights to our own birth certficates. It is disgusting how many people constantly whine and put up barriers, "but you have to consider your adoptive parents...don't they deserver your loyalty? You can't step over other people's rights!"

I'm so sick and tired of hearing this bullshit.

No one can alter the facts of life. Everyone has one mother and one father who created us. No amount of whining will ever change that fact. Adoptive parents need to get a grip on reality. The amened birth certificate should not exist.

I pity people who have to carry the burden of being the product sperm donation, egg donation, and any other psycho-combination these selfish creeps invent to satisfy their egos. Its not only the resulting person who will have to cope with this --- future generations will, too.

Evolution of biology and evolution of the human mind...orphans and bastards carry the burden to fend for themselves.

Joan Wheeler

Anonymous said...

Here's something easy you can do so that soon, ballot initiatives will be easier, better, available in all states AND nationally: At, you can vote to ratify the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Senator Mike Gravel, just as citizens ratified the Constitution.

Think that's impossible? George Washington said "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government." The legal and historical explanation is in the 2nd and following paragraphs at

Help take the "mock" out of democracy...

Anonymous said...

Once again Anita - beautifully written.

If compromise is "give a little and get a little" - then disclosure vetoes and sandwich access are not compromises.

For the person who has no right to their original birth certificate because they were born at the wrong time or are subject to a disclosure veto - they do not get ANYTHING in return for the "compromise".

It's not a compromise, it's a lottery ticket with no second chance. Maybe you'll be lucky - maybe you won't.