Saturday, February 21, 2009



National Council For Adoption (NCFA) and Mr. Marc Zappala


Anita Walker Field, aka Grannie Annie

Re: “Mutual Consent: Balancing the Birth Parent’s Right to Privacy with the Adopted Person’s Desire to Know,” by Mr. Marc Zappala.

Mark Zappala, I read your report with shock and awe. You have played havoc with the truth. You have made sweeping generalizations that are simply not true. And most relevantly, you have come to all of your conclusions based on your single premise that birth mothers have a fundamental right to privacy which the state governments must uphold. That is the underlying principle for all of your arguments. You even used the phrase seventeen (17) different times in your report. It’s your gospel. But you know, Mr. Zapalla, that if this particular statement cannot be proved, then we must throw out everything else in your report as not truthful.

Therefore, I ask you: Where’s your proof? You expect us to just take you at your word. You say it is so – and magically, it is so. Sorry! This just doesn’t work for me.

The NCFA has not now or ever offered up even one genuine proof as evidence of the existence of a legal right of the birth mother to privacy from her adopted adult “child.” Tell me please, where are you hiding all these important documents?

I challenge the NCFA to produce any facts it has to back up its statements that birth parents have a fundamental right to privacy from their adopted “children.” Show me, please, some solid legal evidence of this “right” that would allow birth mothers to be able to choose whether or not their adopted “children” shall receive their original birth certificates. Where is it written?

I know that if someone tells a lie long enough, people start to believe the lie. And I know that you all have created a whopper of a lie when you told us that birth mothers have the “right to privacy and anonymity from their adult adopted “children.” You have put just the right “spin” on this lie for so long now that folks all over the country are feeling sorry for the plight of those poor birth mothers whose lives would be ruined and whose “rights” would be trampled if adopted adult’s original birth certificates were ever issued to them.

Birth mothers DO NOT have a fundamental right to privacy from their adopted adult “children.” And I’ll prove it to you right now, right here, right this minute in this blog.


1. The original birth certificate is not sealed to protect the identity of the birth mother. It is sealed upon decree of adoption, not upon the birth mother’s relinquishment. A child relinquished but never adopted has an unsealed birth certificate. If protection of the birth mother was intended, the birth certificate would have been impounded and sealed upon the termination of her legal relationship to the child, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family. The birth mother signs away all legal rights, forever, to her child when she signs the surrender documents.

2. There is no violation of privacy of the birth mother because there is no public disclosure. Only the adult adoptee whose birth occasioned the creation of the original birth certificate, and whose true facts of birth are contained within it, will have access.

3. Birthmothers signed relinquishment, irrevocability and waiver forms, but there have been no contracts produced promising that an adoptee’s original birth certificate would remain sealed at the discretion of the birth mother.

4. Furthermore, such a contract, if ever produced, would be invalid under the terms of contractual law. One cannot create a binding contract which damages or burdens one party without that party being fairly represented.

5. The state is under no obligation to honor or uphold a promise made between private citizens, most especially if this promise arguably violates a third party’s constitutional, civil, and human rights. [For example, real estate developers during the 1950’s entered into “Gentlemen’s Agreements” with their home owners; the realtors promised not to sell any houses to Jews. Eventually this practice was struck down because the contract between the private citizens was violating a third party’s civil rights.]

6. Sealed records proponents claim that birth parents have a right to remain anonymous from their offspring and often articulate this claim as stemming from a constitutional “right to privacy.” However, the courts have generally determined that the federal constitutional right to privacy means protection of individuals from government intrusion.

7. In a 1997 landmark decision, the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Court, in Doe v Sundquist , found that information concerning a birth is not protected from disclosure by the Federal Constitution, and that the right of privacy “does not extend as far as to encompass a general right to non-disclosure of private information.” Further, they opined that: A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event – the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposes, such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth.”

8. Measure 58, a ballot initiative passed in Oregon in 1998, approved the unconditional opening of original birth certificates to adult adoptees upon request. Immediately after the election, Measure 58 was challenged in court. Six anonymous birth mothers, represented by an attorney with support from the National Council For Adoption filed suit in state court, claiming that open records violated contracts of anonymity made at the time of relinquishments, as well as their right to privacy. This suit was dismissed in mid-1999.

Judge Lipscomb stated, “…Even assuming birth records to be an intimate personal matter, the effect of Ballot Measure 58 is only to give access to the person born, not to the general public. And significantly, there was no privacy or confidentiality at all which was attached to adoption records at the time of the enactment of either Constitutions. See Does v Oregon, Summary Judgement.

9. The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding that birth mothers have no constitutional guarantee of privacy regarding the fact that they relinquished a child, despite promises they may have received that their identities would be protected. Does v. State of Oregon, 164 Or.App. 543, 993 P.2d 833, 834 (1999). The Court refused to extend an earlier stay blocking the law from taking effect, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as the only option for the opponents. In May, 2000, the Supreme Court rejected the six anonymous birth mothers’ request to stay the law. After nearly two years of court battles, Measure 58 went into effect.

Mr. Zapalla, I’ve just shown you some of my proofs. Now I ask you to show me some of yours.


Sunday, February 01, 2009


Join Grannie Annie’s Brainy Bastards Brigade

Forget Your ABC’s

Learn Your FAQ’s

January has brought the opening of many legislative sessions throughout the country.

Little birds are telling Grannie Annie that many states are considering adoptee rights bills this session. Grannie has heard birds chirping from Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, Illinois, AZ, and South Dakota. Grannie is sure there are more to come. Some are good bills and some are very bad bills. Many bills start out as good and as they go through the legislative process, they take on restrictions and amendments that turn them into disastrous bills.

Lately, I feel as if I’m only preaching to the choir. However, I can’t help thinking about all the newbies and most especially the silent adoptees. How to reach the silent adoptees? Maybe, I thought, they would speak out and join us if they knew how to better articulate our goals. So I have written this FAQ primer for them as well as for all of us as succinct list of “bullet points.”

Please feel free to forward these FAQ’s anywhere on planet Earth. Print them out (comes to 3 and ½ pages) and use them to spread the word.

Definitions & shortcuts first.

Adoptee Rights Bill: A bill in which adopted adults are issued their original birth certificates, upon request, unconditionally, and without any falsification. The adoptee rights bill puts adopted men and women back on a par with all non-adopted citizens with regards to birth certificates. Adoptee rights bills are also called “open records bills,” “equal access bills,” and “adoptee access bills.” What makes them all similarly unique is they are bills that will restore to all adopted adults their right to access, unconditionally and with no falsifications, their original birth certificates. I am going to use the term “Adoptee Rights Bill” throughout this blog.

Confidential Intermediary - CI

Original Birth Certificate – OBC

Q. Why should adult adoptee’s obc’s be released to them?

1. The state must not withhold identity records from any group of citizens.

2. All adult adoptees should be able to discover the answers to questions regarding medical history, ethnicity, and family heritage. This is a human right that everyone should own.

3. Sealed records perpetuate the culture of shame which stigmatized infertility, out-of-wedlock birth, and adoption.

4. Adopted adults are no longer “children who need homes.” Therefore, when adoptees reach the age of maturity, the state must give up its control of adoptee’s personal affairs.

5. The state must not discriminate against any group of individuals based solely on the circumstances surrounding their birth.

6. We do not want pity, sympathy, or special favors. Our OBC uniquely belongs to us. It was created by the state to record our history, a right that all non-adopted citizens are given under clear statutory procedure.

Q. Who are the opponents of adoptee rights bills?

1. Various state chapters of ACLU and Right to Life.

2. NCFA (National Council for Adoption) and other adoption agency fronts.

3. Large constituency churches (including LDS)

4. Adoptive parents.

5. Some ultra-conservative think tanks

Q. What is a good adoptee rights bill?

A bill that will restore to all (100%) adopted adults their civil and human right to access their original birth certificates, upon request, with no conditions or falsifications.

Anything less than access for 100% of adopted adults in a state is absolutely unacceptable.

The fundamental right of adoptees to have access to their own government-held identity information is a separate issue from whether or not adoptees and birth parents should contact each other.

Q. Will the passage of an adoptee rights bill affect the adoptees’ relationship with the adoptive family?

A. No. The health of a family unit, adoptive or otherwise, and the relationships within it depend on long-standing patterns of parenting and open, honest communication skills, not on whether or not an adoptee, as an adult, is free to access the true facts of his/her birth.

Q. Was the obc sealed to protect the identity of the birth mother?

A. No. The obc is sealed upon decree of adoption, not upon the birth mother’s relinquishment. A child relinquished but never adopted has an unsealed obc. If protection of the birth mother was intended, the obc would be sealed upon the termination of her legal relationship, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family.

Q. Can a birth mother sign a legal contract with the state at any time whereby she may deny her child’s access to his or her obc for life?

A. No. A birth mother signs an irrevocable contract with the state called a Relinquishment of Parental Rights or a Document of Surrender. No contracts have ever been produced that give birth or adoptive parents the right to keep an adoptee’s obc sealed for life.

Q. Can an adoption agency, a social worker, an adoption facilitator or an adoption attorney make a promise to a birth mother that the state will honor and uphold her anonymity for life?

A. No. A promise is just that – only a promise. It is not a legal document and should not be recognized by the state government. States are not in the business of keeping promises made by private parties.

Q. Will the passage of an adoptee rights bill violate the privacy of the birth mother?

A. No. There is no violation of privacy because there is no public disclosure. Only the adult adoptee whose birth occasioned the creation of the obc, and whose true facts are contained within it, will have access.

Q. Would the passage of an adoptee rights bill also involve release of private records, documents, case-work histories or any other paperwork kept by private or state-run adoption agencies?

A. No. Only the obc is affected and it is the only document that will be released.

Q. What states have passed an adoptee rights bill?

A. Kansas and Alaska never sealed adoptee’s obcs. Oregon, New Hampshire, Alabama, and Maine all have adoptee rights laws. (not to be confused with states that have passed laws that put restrictions upon which adoptees can be issued an obc.)

Q. Will abortion rates rise or adoption rates decrease if adoptee rights bills are passed?

A. No & No. There is no evidence that granting adult adoptees access to their own identity information is detrimental to the process of adoption.

Q. Must the state uphold a law no matter how long it has been in existence?

A. No. A wrongful law is a wrongful law, no matter when it was passed.

Q. Will the passage of an adoptee rights bill allow adoptees to “harass” their birth mothers?

A. This statement is discriminatory and needlessly argumentative, yet it is still frequently asked. It is unconstitutional in the extreme to deny a right to a group of citizens based on what they “might” do if they were restored that right. Remember that the right to request and receive a copy of one’s obc is guaranteed all non-adopted citizens in clear statutory procedure.

Q. What is a real Contact Preference Form?

A. The true Oregon “Contact Preference Form” is a way for a birth parent to privately communicate his or her private and personal feelings about having communication with the adoptee. It is not legally binding. It is not a contact veto. The adoptee gets his or her original birth certificate along with the sealed contact preference form.

Q. Are open records the same as open adoption?

A. No. Open records refers to an adult adoptee having equal access to legal documents which pertain to him or her. An adoptee rights bill is an open records bill. An open adoption refers to an arrangement for raising an adopted child in which the birth parents, adoptive parents, and minor adopted child have some form of ongoing relationship. Even in an open adoption the adult adoptee cannot access his birth and adoption records.

[With help from and thanks to Oregon’s Adult Access to Original Birth Certificates and Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization’s The Basic Bastard.