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May 2004 Vol. 1 No. 7
|VICTORY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE!|
|OPEN RECORDS: IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO|
|Add New Hampshire to the list
of Open Records States. SB 335 became law on May 11, 2004 and will go into
effect on January 1, 2005. This bill will allow adoptees, 21 years of age or
older, to request and receive their original birth certificates with no strings
attached. Governor Benson did not sign the bill, but in accordance with New
Hampshire law, he allowed the bill to become law by not issuing a veto within
the prescribed 5 days following its passage. Senator Lou DíAllesandro, sponsor
of the bill and an adoptive father, moved this bill through the legislative
process despite actions by senators who were determined to add conditional
amendments. Senator DíAllesandro insisted that the bill remain clean with no
Senator DíAllesandro was simply amazed at all the letters he received from adoptees who asked him to pull this bill rather than to pass it with any conditions. Senator DíAllesandro told his colleagues., "I am the father of 2 adopted children. If those children want to know who their birth parents are, why should that be denied?"
In response to the birth mother confidentiality issue, Senator DíAllesandro answered: "If there was a contract entered into, then it needs to be null and void. Contracts that take away another's rights have to be null and void."
When the bill successfully passed the Senate and moved to the House of Representatives, Deputy House Speaker Mike Whalley took it and literally drove it home. He worked continuously to get it passed in the House. His perseverance, his dedication to the cause, his unlimited energy and his hard work turned this open records bill into a reality in New Hampshire.
And of course, our own long-standing Bastard Nation member and New Hampshire State Representative Janet Allen was always on the spot working closely with Senator DíAllesandro and Representative Whalley. Janet sits on the House Committee that heard testimony on the bill. She asked all the right questions of the people testifying, including NCFAís Tom Atwood.
A week later, when the bill was heard on the floor of the House of Representatives, Janet rose and spoke eloquently on its behalf, citing the fundamental fairness of treating adopted citizens the same as all others with regard to accessing their own government-held birth certificates. Several House members said they changed their minds only after hearing Representative Allen speak.
"This was a team effort," says Bastard Nation Executive Chair Marley Greiner, who flew to New Hampshire to give testimony before the House Committee.
Senate Bill 335 was originally drafted by Paul Schibbelhute, a birth father residing in New Hampshire and a member of the New Hampshire grassroots group which supported the legislation. Bastard Nation and the American Adoption Congress along with numerous state adoptee rights groups worked together to make sure that the right to records for ALL adults adopted in the state was restored--not just to some.
THE HONORABLE REPRESENTATIVE
JANET ALLEN SPEAKS BEFORE
THE NEW HAMPSHIRE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 29, 2004
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know something about this subject matter. This subject matter has been my life for the last 51 years that Iíve been adopted.
I think that thereís been some misinformation about this bill. I believe this bill has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. Alabama and Oregon had the same law go into effect in 2000. I have the latest statistics on abortion for those two states from 2002. In both states abortion declined, it did not rise. Do I think thatís because this law went into effect? No, absolutely not, I donít think abortion has anything whatsoever to do with this bill. However, I do think that it
probably proves abortion rates will not rise in our state.
Contrary to everything youíve heard here today, absolutely no promises, written or otherwise, have ever been made that would prevent me from obtaining my original birth certificate.
Do you really think that 20,30,40 years ago when they began sealing birth certificates, they were worried about birth mother confidentiality? I know they werenít. I KNOW THEY WERENíT. They were worried about the birth mother coming back, claiming her child and disrupting the adoption. Legislative intent is very clear about that. I donít know how this over the years developed into birth mother confidentiality.
When a birth mother signs a relinquishment form thereís nothing on that form that promises any type of confidentiality whatsoever. What that form does promise that birth mother is that she will have no future legal responsibility for that child. This bill does nothing to break the promise of having no legal responsibility for that child.
Once the relinquishment form is signed, absolutely nothing happens to the original birth certificate. If that child goes into foster care or for some reason doesnít get adopted, that child will always have that birth certificate. The state does not guarantee to every single birth mother that her child will be adopted and therefore the state cannot
Thereís always been a statute that when adoptees reaches the age of 21 they can go to court and show good cause to get their birth records open. It doesnít happen very often in New Hampshire. In fact thereís been a ruling that even if every party to the adoption agrees, then thatís still not good cause enough to open it.
If the state really wanted to promise confidentiality to birth mothers, then I think that what they would do is seal the birth certificates at the time of relinquishment. They donít do that; they seal it at the time of adoption.
I personally have nothing to gain by the passage of this bill. The ONLY reason I have nothing to gain is because I spent 3 years and untold dollars fighting with the state bureaucracy and the probate court. Was this wrong of me? I donít think so. Why should I be denied my heritage due to a contract that I never signed, that I never approved of, and that I did not participate in?
Today youíve heard from an adoptive father - the sponsor of this bill is an adoptive father- and youíre hearing from an adoptee. At our committee hearing we had many, many birth mothers who came to testify. Not one of them, not one, testified against this bill, they were all in favor of this bill.
Iím asking you to please stick with the 9-3-committee recommendation and open birth certificates to all New Hampshire adults. This is a really good bill and * this *is the right thing to do.
To listen to the debate, go to:
Go to April 29th, afternoon.
Counter at 31:39
Bastard Nation & Ballot Initiative 58
E. Wayne Carp, 2004.
In his latest book, Adoption Politics, Dr. E. Wayne Carp, Professor of History and chair at Pacific Lutheran University, asserts that "Öthe campaign for Measure 58 was won because of the ideology of Bastard Nation." Dr. Carp follows Oregonís historic ballot initiative from its inception at the first Bastard Nation Conference in Chicago in 1997, through the hard-fought signature drives of proponents Helen Hill and Shea Grimm, and on to the electoral campaign and ensuing court battles.
Using correspondence and his own candid interviews with all the key players, Carp shows how both sides mobilized their constituencies and formed their strategies.
Professor Carp writes, "Bastard Nation had a strong advantage in its widespread and sophisticated use of the media, whether its members were appearing on TV, giving radio interviews, or placing ads on cable TV programs. BNís use of the Internet and its discussion list BEST not only provided the adoption activist group with an identity, but also provided it with a means of communication that was far in advance of the opposition. The speed with which BN was able to keep up with events and respond to them allowed it to keep ahead of the opposition during the Measure 58 campaign and build esprit de corps among the rank and file."
This is a MUST READ for everyone! You all know most of the participants already. The Bastard Nation roster includes: Helen Hill, Shea Grimm, Marley Greiner, Damsel Plum, Lanie Peterson, Mary Ann Cohen, Ron Morgan, Donna Harris, Donna Martz, Joanne Nichols, David C. Ansardi, Julie M. Dennis, Cynthia Bertrand Holub, Toff Philippo, Albert Wei, Curtis Endicott, and Linda Corbin.
Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation & Ballot Initiative 58 may be
purchased on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders Book Stores.
Families by Law: An Adoption Reader
Edited by Naomi Cahn and Joan Heifetz Hollinger
Families by Law brings together diverse perspectives on contemporary aspects of adoption law and practice. Following a historical overview of adoption in American law and society, the reader presents different responses to concerns about who may place children for adoption, the status of birth parents, who may adopt, and the legal and psychosocial consequences of adoption.
Bastard Nation is very proud to be a part of this book. The editors
included parts of The Basic Bastard in the reader.
Somebodyís Someone: A memoir
By Regina Louise
This is a story about a youngster who nobody wanted. Nobody!
She was dumped and abused by her parents, relatives, foster parents, and at the tender age of eleven, she becomes a ward of the court and is sent to a childrenís shelter thatís one step short of a mental institution. In this unlikely setting, Regina finds something so powerful and so transcendent that her Job-like trials all seem worth the price: Regina finds that she is loved.
GOVERNOR LINGLE DUMPS HAWAIIíS BABY DUMP BILL Ė AGAIN!
A second Baby Dump bill was introduced into Hawaiiís legislature this January. It passed out of the House in March and went to the Senate, where it passed the first reading. It was then referred to a Senate committee, where it stayed until the deadline had passed, which means it can not be considered further this year. Word has it that Governor Lingle again let it be known that if this bill were to reach her desk, she would veto it.
BE MY BABY
Ethica reviewed ABCís 20/20 controversial episode on "Open
Adoption." You can read it at
http://ethicanet.org/item.php?recordid=2020review Bastard Nation
congratulates Ethica on this excellent review.
OKLAHOMA LIBERTARIAN PARTY OPPOSES BIRTH CERTIFICATE FRAUD
The Oklahoma Libertarian Party adopted the following as part of its
legislative agenda at its state convention: "No Birth Certificate Fraud: The Oklahoma Libertarian Party opposes fraud, even and especially legalized fraud, and therefore opposes HB 2401 which would allow incorrect information to be deliberately recorded on original birth certificates." http://www.oklp.org
CHILDREN SEEK FAMILIAL ROOTS
[Excerpt from N.Y. Newsday, February 28, 2004]
The baby export business in Ireland was booming during the 1950ís and 1960ís. Hours after leaving Ireland on jetliners and waving goodbye to their birth mothers, the youngsters, each with passports and leather scapulas made by their birth mothers that held the images of Catholic saints, found themselves in the company of strangers.
Bastard National Mari Steed was one of these babies. She made the
journey in 1961, leaving behind her birth mother who toiled in a
Magdalene Laundry in Dublin.
Mari is the U.S. based-coordinator for AdoptionIreland, an
organization that helps adoptees born in Ireland get their birth
certificates. Other Ireland-based groups such as the Adopted Peoples Association and a host of private "search angels" overseas are also at work. The groups are trying to unite the adoptees with Irish families who, because of secrecy, may not even know they have relatives in the U.S.
ODE TO JANET
By Natalie Proctor Servant
There once was a Bastard
Who got fed up and said "Dammit!"
In the courts she was strong
The laws were so wrong
Was she fighting?
She'd only begun it.
How could she continue the fight
To get adult adoptees their rights?
She ran, got elected
And in the House directed
Folks to give equal rights the
It worked and now we must go
Hours and days before
we will know
The governor's mind:
Will he veto or sign?
Janet will show him the right
way to go.
Bastard Nation member Janet Allen (front & center) is flanked
by Senator Lou D'Allesandro (left) Deputy House Speaker Mike Whalley (right). They are joined by other members of the New Hampshire coalition.
APRIL 29, 2004: A DATE THAT WILL GO DOWN IN BASTARD NATION HISTORY
THREE CHEERS, AND
HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!
Janet, you did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YOU made the difference. You are my hero!!!!! I am so damned proud of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
First you set out to get your own original birth certificate.... it took four years and I donít know how many rejections from the judges before you prevailed. But you didnít stop there because you knew that it was your right to have your own birth certificate. After you finally received it, you moved on to write a pure open records bill which would help everyone in New Hampshire.
I remember the agony and frustration and anger too that you went through when some members of your group wanted to change that bill. You didnít cave in... you fought for our rights and what we all here at BN believe in. You did battle with the many folks in the group and convinced them to pull that bill rather than go ahead with a conditional bill. It wasnít easy......it was courageous -- and you did it. You knew that baby steps would be "killer steps."
And next thing we know, youíve been elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. And when this open records bill came along, with out any notice, you picked it up and ran with it, Janet, and YOU brought home the win.
You have empowered all of us today! THANK YOU!!!!!!!
If I were in New Hampshire, Iíd be jumping up and down, screaming, raising my glass, and hugging you. I can jump and scream and drink at home, but I can't hug you, so I'm sending you the biggest bear hugs on this planet.
We all love you!!!
(Anita Walker Field)
HOW DO YOU SAY ADOPTEE? LET US COUNT THE WAYS!
By Proud and Funny Bastard Nationals Ron Morgan and Cyn Bertrand Holub.
JOIN BASTARD NATION
Want to help make a difference in how adopted people are treated and viewed in society? Want to support the efforts of the only adoptee-led national organization dedicated to promoting the equal treatment and dignity of adopted citizens?
Want to enjoy all the benefits of membership? Join Bastard Nation!
Fill Out an Application now at http://www.bastards.org/members
Learn: http:// www.bastards.org
Join: http://www.bastards.org/members /
Fight: http://www.bastards.org /alert/index.html
Talk Back: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN BN TODAY!
Editors: Anita Walker Field and David C. Ansardi
c. 2004 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
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