Friday, July 11, 2008




SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING is an idea that has been raising its ugly voice in civil rights issues for a long long time. Opponents of unsealing original birth documents have persistently and relentlessly echoed this phrase, SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING.

The SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING concept has been spoon fed to the general public as well as to us adoptees as “the Compromise of Choice.” The people who are serving up this distasteful fare have the audacity to try to put the blame on us, adoptees who believe in equal rights for ALL adoptees. We believe that not one single adoptee should be left behind. We do not adhere to the policy of SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING.

“Shame on you,” the deformers tell us. “You want to deprive access to birth documents to 97% of the adoptees because you don’t like the amendments to our bill. Have you no heart? You want elderly folks to go to their graves not knowing the identities of their birth mothers because you cannot accept any restrictions on our bill.”

NO, NO, NO. We don’t want to deprive any adoptee of his or her original birth certificate. We want 100% of the adoptee population to be able to access their original documents of birth. Put the blame right where it belongs – on the STATE.

Don’t you see? It’s the state’s fault. They are the ones who are trying to force you all into supporting a bill that will deny an original birth certificate to possibly 3% or more of the state’s adoptee population. They are the ones who are attempting to pass a bill that would cause little old adopted grannies and grandpas to go the Great Beyond without knowing their original identities. It is the state who could live very comfortably with a law in which adopted adults would not be treated equally.

The well known author Anna Quindlen told the story about a young mother who asked her for advice. What, the young mother wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? "Keep her," Ms. Quindlen replied.... “The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me.”

Works for me too. It’s time to be obstreperous, outspoken and inconveniently willful.

Say NO to the state. Don’t accept their restrictions. Tell the state that SOMETHING IS NOT BETTER THAN NOTHING. Say NO and if the politicians refuse to accept your terms, then walk away. Kill the bill. Withdraw your support. Wait for the next legislative session where you can start over with an empty slate or a different sponsor or different leadership Shout it to the rafters of the State House. SOMETHING IS NOT BETTER THAN NOTHING.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. If birth mothers feel that they aren’t getting a square deal or that their rights are being trampled, then let the birth mothers get together, form organizations, and file a bill that would give them their “rights.” It’s up to them to take care of themselves, not the state.

The one and only time I ever saw or heard a “gathering of birthmothers” fighting for rights was in Oregon on November 1, 1998, the Sunday before Measure 58 was to be presented to the electorate for a vote. Over 500 birthmothers signed a full page advertisement in Portland’s main newspaper, the Oregonian. ALL 500 birth mothers signed their names and messages of support for ADOPTEE RIGHTS in this unique full page ad. Take a minute right now to look at it. It’s quite remarkable! You can find it at:

So where should we point our finger? Who’s guilty?

The state will agree to deny an original birth certificate to possibly 3% or 4% or 5% or more of adoptees.

The state doesn’t care about Grandmother Goodfellow’s death bed wish to know who she really is.

The state actually believes that it’s morally acceptable to pass a law under which all adopted individuals will NOT be treated equally.

It is THE STATE. The state goes to great extremes in order to preserve its 60 year old law of sealing adoptee’s original birth records forever. During the last decade, progress has been made in repealing this ancient law and too many legislators don’t like this. So the state fashions restrictive amendments to access bills which trample the rights of all adoptees, young and old and in the middle. The state wants you to believe that SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING.


Mary Lynn Fuller said...

Great blog, Anita! We must continue to fight for all adoptees to be treated equally. Taking tiny steps at a time toward adoption reform is not the way to go. It only leads to laws that take many years to change. We have to hold out for what is right and we need a legislator who will introduce a bill that treats all adoptees equally with all being able to request and obtain their OBC.

Pennagal said...

You said it, Grannie!

The Improper Adoptee said...

Yup, yup and yup. :)
Go Grannie...

Triona Guidry said...

Well said, GA! Having experienced the Illinois intermediary program's "something" firsthand, I can definitely say I would have preferred "nothing."

If you are adopted - would you really support a law that allows you access to your information, knowing the same law locks other adoptees out of theirs?

This is why we oppose Illinois HB 4623 - because it would grant access to some while sacrificing others.

EVERYONE deserves equal access, not just the chosen, sanctioned few.

Anonymous said...

You know Anita, in our discussions a few months ago you totally changed my viewpoint on the something is better than nothing. I admit I felt like the Illinois Bill was a good one when it was first announced, I see now why it isn't. I am grateful for you opening my eyes. As a 1st I am completely behind an adoptees right to the OBC. I have always said I never asked for it to be kept from my daughter. I am really worried about the fight for open records right now. The "State of the Union" of those fighting for the cause isn't good. I just pray that changes.
Much love & keep speaking out!