News From Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
September 2004        Vol. 1 No. 9
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Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization advocates for the civil and human rights of adult citizens who were adopted as children. Millions of North Americans are prohibited by law from accessing personal records that pertain to their historical, genetic and legal identities. Bastard Nation campaigns for the restoration of their right to unconditionally access their birth records.



BASTARD NATION MOURNS THE DEATH OF THE HONORABLE JEFF DOLBARE, STATE REPRESENTATIVE OF ALABAMA

The Honorable Jeff Dolbare, State Representative of Alabama, passed away Thursday, August 12, 2004, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Representative Dolbare was the sponsor of the successful adoptee rights legislation in Alabama in 2000, when unconditional open records became the law in Alabama. Representative Dolbare was truly a great man who took up causes to help people who don't have a big voice.

We all owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to this wonderful man who championed the causes of groups of people like ours who have an important grievance with state law, but not the loud thundering voice or money to influence the politicians.

Read more about Rep. Dolbare's accomplishments and view a photo collage on the homepage of Alabamians Working for Adoption Reform and Education (AWARE).


BASTARDS IN THE TRENCHES

PAT MARLER, BASTARD OUT OF OKLAHOMA

I'm Pat Marler, proud Bastard National and Activist for open records in Oklahoma. Although I was born in Iowa and grew up in Nebraska, I have been living in Oklahoma for the last 34 years. I am not working at the moment and I love being a grandma to two cuties, 19 months. and 3 months. I love animals too. At the moment I have 4 cats and one dog. That total changes from time to time, when I come upon a stray animal.

I am an adopted person who always knew of my adoption. My parents always told me I was chosen--and I really was! I was one of three babies in a hospital nursery that couples "checked out" as being a suitable baby for them. My parents saw all of us for 5 days straight and finally chose me. I never did hear what happened to the other two infants.

I never talked about searching for my birth family until I was ready to do it. I constantly thought about it though, especially when I had children. My mother-in-law said only one thing to me when our first son was born, "He's a little dark, isn't he?" That got me thinking about my heritage. Upon finding my birthparents, I learned I had Cherokee blood.

A searcher helped me find my birth mother within a week. My birth mother's first words to me were "What took you so long?" She had no idea what to do to search and didn't think she had the right to find me.

After finding my birth parents, I worked four years trying to get my original birth certificate from Iowa. They pushed me around from one place to another, one county to another, until finally a woman whispered to me, "Honey, why don't you write to Judge.....?" I did and he called me and asked what I wanted out of the adoption file. I said, "Everything." I got the relinquishment paper and the adoption decree, but there was no birth certificate. So I called him back and asked him for that. He signed a court decree and I finally received my original birth certificate. This four-year process got me steaming!

I started looking around the Internet and found Bastard Nation's website. It was the organization I was looking for! If fit me perfectly!!! I didn't want some cutesy organization - I was angry!

I am a member and officer of Oklahomans for Open Records and Adoption Honesty, Inc. (OORAH) that is working for unconditional open records in Oklahoma. We are presently writing a bill to present in the 2005 legislative session.

The hardest thing I have come up against while lobbying for open records is looking into the lawmakers' eyes and knowing that they have already made up their minds. They really aren't listening to you. Then you just have to try harder or try a different angle.

My advice to other activists: If you are working for unconditional open records, don't get sidetracked! That has been one of our biggest problems. We see the need for change in so many areas of adoption that a few of us want to do many things at once. Set your sights on the goal of unconditional open records and don't give up!

OORAH on the Web

Pat Marler and OORAH were recently featured in an article published on Sunday, September 5th in the Tulsa World.


IN THE NEWS

HOW DO THEY ABANDON INFANTS? LET US COUNT THE WAYS.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute has released a state policy survey on infant abandonment. Four states, Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska, and Nebraska do not have an infant abandonment law. In July, Massachusetts enacted a measure allowing infant abandonment under certain circumstances. This bill becomes law in October, 2004.

In 45 states, infants may be relinquished up to a specified age. The age ranges from 72 hours all the way up to one year in North Dakota. In 16 of these states, others besides parents may leave infants. And in 28 states, the law expressly provides anonymity to the person leaving the infant. All 45 states determine the places and/or personnel designated to accept an infant.

Four states require infants to have an ID bracelet, 11 states require medical information, and 15 states mandate Investigating missing child status.

For a complete state-by-state run down, please go to: http://www.agi-usa.org/spib_IA


CALLING ALL BASTARDS

Bastard Nation member Ann Donlon has become the Vice President of the Hagerstown Public Access Corporation, a nonprofit organization recently formed to offer area citizens and groups an opportunity to utilize mass media.

"I want some bastards on my channel! It is my fervent hope that Bastard Nation - collectively and/or as individual members - will seriously consider the not-very-expensive undertaking of making programming to educate the public about adoption, search and reunion, and - of course - adoptee rights (and the lack thereof)

For more information, you may email Ann Donlon at tld3@erols.com or Google "PEG channel" or "public access television."


UNLOCKING THE HEART OF ADOPTION

A Screening and Silent Auction to benefit Sheila Ganz's amazing film, Unlocking the Heart of Adoption, will be held on October 14, 2004 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at The Crest Theatre, 1012 "K" St., Sacramento, CA. Sponsors of this event are Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization, California NOW, Post Adoption Center for Education & Research and California Open.

Read more about Unlocking the Heart of Adoption at Sheila's website.


REGDAY - OCTOBER 2, 2004

RegDay is an annual event to increase public awareness of the International Soundex Reunion Registry - a free humanitarian service better known as the ISRR. ISRR is a non-profit mutual consent registry dedicated to reuniting adult family members separated by adoption, divorce, or other dislocation. Lauded in the nationally syndicated "Dear Abby" column, the ISRR has reunited thousands of adults all over the world.

Learn more about the ISRR from the official ISRR web site at http://www.isrr.net. Volunteer for RegDay at the National RegDay web site: http://www.regday.org.


DNA PROJECT TO HELP SEARCHES

A new DNA project that could reunite adoptees and birth parents was announced in USA Today, August 17, 2004. Linda Hammer, who hosts a Florida-based weekly radio program called The Seeker, is launching an ambitious new project: a DNA bank where samples from adoptees and birth parents who are searching for one another can be added to a central database to be compared with other samples for possible matches. http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2004-08-16-dnaadopt_x.htm


AN ANCIENT TEAR

Carol Schaefer, author of The Other Mother has written a new book called An Ancient Tear. This book was inspired by the thousands of heartbreaking stories of child loss Schaefer has heard since publication of her acclaimed memoir The Other Mother. An Ancient Tear is a compelling story of how a mother's wounds of losing a child through death, miscarriage, abortion, and adoption can be healed through a connection to and with spiritual realms. http://www.AnAncientTear.com


LEGISLATION

CALIFORNIA

Senate Bill 1357 brings numerous changes to current law governing independent adoptions, birthfather rights, post-adoption contract agreements between birthparents and adoptive parents, and rights of foster parents and relative caregivers to participate at various stages of juvenile dependency cases in order to expedite the adoption of children currently in foster care. Opponents of the bill include Concerned United Birthparents, California Open, and 7 Native American Tribes of California.

SB 1413 was passed and signed into law. It is an expansion of the existing Safe Haven law (SB 1368 in 2000) This new law now allows third parties to anonymously transport and provide newborns, 72 hours old or younger, into the hands of personnel at designated drop off locations. Prior to passage of SB 1413, third party abandonment was a crime.

NEVADA

What Happened to Adoption in Nevada?

By Jean Uhrich

The Nevada Committee on Children, Youth and Families met for a work session on August 12, 2003. What I witnessed there was puzzling.

For seven long years, the families of adoption tried to get a legislative hearing. In March 2003, they were finally heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee. What did they want? Adult adoptees asked lawmakers to allow them to see their own birth certificates. A simple request for anyone who is not adopted. But the Senate Judiciary Committee decided that this issue was too complex to deal with in the short 120-day session. It called for more study and sent the proposed legislation to the Senate Children, Youth and Families Committee.

Once there, the issue of open records was shuffled aside into a one-woman show, called the Subcommittee on Adoption. After committee member Senator Maggie Carlton viewed all the exhibits and heard all the testimony and policy on best adoption practice, she indeed brought forward the recommendation for adoptee access to their original birth certificates.

But once the full committee met in work session on August 12th, the open records issue was blatantly absent from the agenda. It disappeared. Instead, the committee voted to allow researchers access to the identifying information held in adoption and foster care records. Just think! Researchers could view the records but not the subjects of those very records - the adult adoptees.

Committee member Senator Valerie Weiner raised concerns about identity theft as a reason not to acknowledge the rights of adult adoptees to have their original birth records.

That's the pot calling the kettle black! Sealing records to adult adoptees IS identity theft, and the thief is the State of Nevada. When you are adopted in Nevada, why must you be barred from knowing who you were before the adoption?

Access by adult adoptees to their own state-held records was law in Nevada for over 100 years. What happened to Nevada adoption between 1953 and 1973? It wasn't a black kettle. But it was a simmering black market adoption ring.

It is time to unravel this dark puzzle and bring back truth and honesty to adoption practices.

Does Jean's letter fire you up? Learn more about Nevada Open and join their efforts to overturn Nevada's violations of adoptee rights.





Where The Action Is

Stay tuned for updates and action alerts!


GET INVOLVED:

Nevada Open Website

OORAH - Oklahoma Open Records

Missouri Open

Florida Records Equality Effort (F.R.E.E.)

California Open

Arizona Open

Arkansas Open Needs Volunteers for Future Efforts!

Virginians for Adoption Reform and Education

Louisiana Adoption Advocates




GRANNY ANNIE'S 8 STEP PROGRAM TO FINDING PROPOSED ADOPTION LEGISLATION IN YOUR STATE

Granny Annie encourages everyone to partake of her 8 step program once a week during the legislation session.


1. Go to Google and type in "[name of state] Legislature." Every State Legislature has a website.

2. At the State Legislature's website, look for the link to CURRENT LEGISLATION and bills and go there.

3. Now look for a "SEARCH" feature on current legislation page. It's going to be there somewhere!

4. You can search by the number of a bill, the name of a representative or by keyword. You will probably need to search by KEYWORD.

5. Do NOT key in the word "adoption" or "adopt" because you'll get a ton of bills adopting everything under the sun.

6. GOOD KEYWORDS : adoption of children; original birth certificate; adoptee rights; confidential intermediary; infant abandonment; safe haven; adoption records;

7. Good keywords should bring up any pending legislation. You usually will have your choice: a SUMMARY or the FULL TEXT. Try the summary first. If the bill is indeed one you are interested in, then you might want to follow through by going to the full text. Don't be put off by "legalese." It isn't bad at all - it's just very wordy English. You get used to it after a while.

8. Now look for the "STATUS" of the bill. You will get a chronological list of all actions taken on the bill thus far.



MEMBERS' CORNER

Congratulations to Bastard Nation birth mother Brenda Romanchik, who has been selected as one of this year's recipients of the Angels in Adoption Awards. The awards are bestowed each year by a Congressional committee. Brenda is the Director of Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support, an organization which provides triad members, professionals and the general public with information on open adoption. Brenda is the author of several adoption-related titles covering topics such as open adoption and birth parent resources. Read more about Brenda here. Congratulations!

Prayers for a speedy recovery to Lindsay Woodside who is recovering from surgery.

Condolences to Fr. Jack Sweeley upon the death of his father.

Happy dances for Bastard Nation birth mothers Maryanne Cohen and Sheila Ganz!

Maryanne met with her son Mike for the first time this month. Maryanne writes: "As I was driving to meet Kris and Mike for dinner, the rain that had been falling all day cleared, and a huge Technicolor rainbow appeared in the sky. If it had been a movie, that would have been too over the top and corny for words!! I am very, very happy and blessed."

Sheila Ganz also had a first meeting with her daughter this summer. Sheila says, "My daughter knows that though I was not able to keep her - that she is loved and wanted. We are now in touch on a regular basis and are building a relationship."



BASTARDS' GREAT BOOKS DISCUSSION

Great Books reviewed by our own literary Bastards Cynthia Bertrand Holub, Marlena Villers, Toff Phillippo, Pam Zaebst, and Anita Field.

Long Days Journey Into the Dark Side of Adoption
Eugene O'Neill discovers he is adopted and not related to his dysfunctional family and rejoices, in this autobiographical play, but then searches and finds his birth family are also a bunch of failed actors, drunks, druggies, and depressives. Typically Irish.

Lethal Secrets of The Old Man and the Sea
A dirty old sailor who makes extra rum money down at the sperm bank is made to walk the plank by a whole town of his offspring when they discover they are all half-siblings.

Birthbond, Crime and Punishment
Raskolnikov becomes a Late Discovery Adoptee and finds, to his horror, that the old woman he has killed was his birthmother.

Dear Birthmother, It's Me Margaret and Sabine
Collection of letters from adoptee Margaret to the series of women mistakenly identified as her birthmother. This unique gift book presents each letter in its own sealed envelope addressed to the god-like Sabine. Is Sabine a social worker, a PI, a CI, or just a figment of the primally wounded Margaret's imagination? (Available only through court-order.com)

The Bad Seed Gone With the Wind
Evil adoptee, Rhoda, sets fire to Atlanta; pleads insanity. "The genes made me do it," she tells the jury. Rhoda sentenced to life imprisonment in the maternity ward of the Georgia State Penitentiary. As she's dragged out of court, she's heard screaming, "I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies."

Join our Bastard Great Books Discussion. Share your bastardy insights with us. Tell us about your favorite Bastard Great Book. Write to bn@bastards.org or anitafield@sbcglobal.net.

JOIN BASTARD NATION

Want to 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 bn@bastards.org



JOIN BN TODAY!


BASTARDS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR SHAME!


Editors: Anita Walker Field and David C. Ansardi
c. 2004 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization


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