December 2004        Vol. 1 No. 12
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NEW JERSEY ADVOCATES SELL OUT AGAIN, THREATENING ADOPTEE RIGHTS AROUND THE NATION!
LEGISLATION REPORT: NEW JERSEY
New Jersey bill S1093 passed the New Jersey Senate on December 6th by a vote of 23-14. The bill has now been assigned to the Assembly Family Women and Children's Services Committee of the House.
S1093 started out as a clean adoptee rights bill, but was amended in the Senate on October 25th and now contains a disclosure veto. The amended legislation would provide a one-year period following bill passage during which birthparents can file a veto against having their names disclosed on the original birth certificates.
LEGISLATION ANALYSIS: NEW JERSEY
LUNACY FROM WITHIN: NEW JERSEY'S S1093
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last week the New Jersey Senate passed S1093, deemed an adoptee rights bill by many in the adoption community. This legislation would open records for adult adoptees born from the point of implementation forward, while permitting birth parents the option to file a contact preference form similar to the ones used in Oregon, Alabama, and New Hampshire (starting in Jan. 2005). For adoptees born and adopted in the past, records would be opened only if a birth parent does not file an objection to disclosure during a one-year time frame following implementation of the change in law.
Nice try, New Jersey. But this is not adoptee rights legislation, it's more of the same. Allowing birth parents to block disclosure of information on the original birth certificates of adult adoptees makes receipt of the information a privilege bestowed by birth parents, rather than a right. It maintains the current second class status for adult adoptees, who still will not enjoy the same unrestricted access to their original birth records that other citizens take for granted.
To make matters worse, passage of this legislation and support by the very adoptees whose rights will continue to be violated comes on the heels of true victory in New Hampshire. Beginning in January, adult adoptees born and adopted in New Hampshire will have unrestricted access to their original birth records, as is the case in Kansas, Alaska, Oregon, Alabama, and much of the free world. Why undermine the important victory for adoptee rights in New Hampshire by supporting reckless legislation in New Jersey?
We urge supporters of adoptee rights everywhere to band together and work for the defeat of New Jersey's S1093 as it passes over to the House side of the New Jersey legislature. We should not allow bad legislation in New Jersey to serve as a model for reform efforts elsewhere. State legislatures do look to each other for the latest trends in law, and we should not set poor precedent.
Shame on those in the adoption reform community who have been working in support of this flawed legislation.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
When's the last time you heard..?
"Adoptee groups must never publicly criticize the actions of another adoptee organization - it is bad for the total adoption movement."
How tired I am of hearing these excuses whenever I publicly disagree with a bill or a position taken by another adoptee or adoptee group. I am just like any other citizen of the United States. I can exercise my freedom of speech and speak out against any piece of legislation, in any state, for any reason. I've been told that this is name-calling, ignorance, sabotage. But it's not - it's debate, dissent, disagreement.
Adoptees do not all belong to one huge fraternity. We have not taken an oath of allegiance to each other. We have never sworn to uphold the "party line." We are individuals who happen to have been adopted.
I won't be silenced by the argument that because I don't live in a particular state, I can't possibly know what's best for that state. I'm just as capable as any other American citizen of speaking my mind about what I think is right or wrong, good or bad, for any state in our country.
The US Constitution guarantees that we are able to travel freely between states. Our ideas and words must also be able to freely cross all state borders.
What has happened to conscience?
I'm also mighty tired of hearing that it isn't pragmatic, politically savvy, or even politically possible to pass a clean civil rights bill for adoptees. Says who? Says the people who want so badly to pass an adoption reform bill in their state that they add conditions to their bill to please the legislators while at the same time they exclude some adoptees from their rights. It doesn't matter in which state this is happening. What matters is that my conscience tells me that these conditions are wrong and so I will continue to respectfully and publicly state my opposition in any public forum of my choosing.
Being an adoptee does not define me. Being a citizen with the courage and conviction to speak my mind does.
Three cheers for America, where I can criticize our government, write about elected officials, and shout my opinions from the rooftop.
BASTARD IN THE TRENCHES
ONTARIO'S NATALIE PROCTOR SERVANT DIVES INTO POLITICS
I was born & adopted in Ontario, Canada. Iíve got 2 younger non-adopted siblings. I did a degree in Systems Design Engineering and I work in the telecommunications field. Recently I completed a B.A. in Classical Studies, which I did for fun due to the inspiration of my wonderful high school Latin teacher.
Along the way I became more involved in my own search, joining the local Parent Finders search and support group. Through their help, I reunited with my birth mother. I always said that Iíd stay involved whether I reunited or not, and Iíve stuck with that!
Adoption records have been sealed in Ontario since 1927, although we have had some minor improvements in records access since then. We currently have a reunion registry which does active searches on behalf of adoptees. If the found party agrees, a connection is made. Adoptees can also get a copy of their adoption order, which in most cases before 1970 includes the motherís last name.
I came to Bastard Nation as an early lurker on the alt.adoption newsgroup. I remember joining the group as soon as it appeared. I watched with great interest as debates raged and Bastard Nation formed. Finally, when I graduated from university and was able to afford it, I joined.
I started my ďworkĒ with Bastard Nation on a small scale, absorbing emails and writing letters in response to legislation and articles. I felt more and more comfortable with advocating for adoptee rights, and I took on the project in 1999 of surveying the candidates for the Ontario election. I sent hundreds of email surveys, followed up on responses, and tracked everything on-line. My next step in local activism was going to the Legislature in Toronto to make a presentation on an open records bill. More recently Iíve become very interested in the history of adoption in Ontario and done lots of reading on the subject, which led to a presentation at an adoption conference in Toronto.
My most recent step in activism has actually been a move away from adoption disclosure and into politics. Since it was clear from my research that my current representative would NEVER vote for open records, I joined the campaign team of his most likely opponent. It was fun, a great learning experience, and I gained a new hobby: politics. Iíve been involved in two campaigns now and Iím on the executive of my local riding association.
Iíve been heavily influenced by my fellow Bastard Nationals Ė the debates, learning how politics works, the first steps in becoming active. Looking back, I never would have imagined that I would be this involved in adoptee rights activism and politics, but each small step of progress that Iíve made has led to a deeper involvement. I encourage you all to take that next step Ė it may eventually lead to open records for your state or province!
WHO'S YOUR DADDY?
The Fox TV Network has announced a new TV reality show entitled, Who's Your Daddy? An adoptee will win $100,000 if she correctly picks out her birthfather from a pack of 8 middle-aged gentlemen. If the adoptee is wrong, then the man she selects gets the money. The first show will be aired on January 3, 2005, as a 90 minute special. Fox reports that is has 6 more shows ready to go after this one.
E-Online reporter Joal Ryan sought out Bastard Nation Executive Chair, Marley Greiner, for her opinions on the new show.
Marley Greiner said she doesn't think the network, known for stunt shows of questionable taste such as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, should be treated as the bad guy. Marley argues that laws that prevent adoptees from finding their birth parents are the problem.
"If there weren't sealed records, you wouldn't have this show," Greiner said.
Marley described the Who's Your Daddy? concept as both "totally audacious" and "kind of funny." Adoption is a very closed, sealed secretive system," Greiner said. "There's a whole mystique about adoption and this [show] is exploiting it in the most blatant way."
UPCOMING OR ACTIVE LEGISLATION
Watch These States:
Where The Action Is
Senator Lou D'Allesandro, New Hampshire Senator and prime sponsor of SB-335, New Hampshire's open records bill goes into effect on January 1, 2005, has recently written a letter to "Online News" explaining why he feels this law is so important.
"This law will soon provide adult adoptees with the answers to which they are entitled. They will finally be afforded the same rights as the rest of us who have always enjoyed this basic information about ourselves. I am proud that we were able to work together in New Hampshire to become the 5th state to allow such access. It is my hope that other states will examine this law and give to their adoptees the same rights that every other person has. I know this is difficult but it is the right thing to do."
Bastard Nation Executive Chair Marley Greiner will attend open records day festivities in New Hampshire on January 3rd, alongside esteemed Bastard National and New Hampshire House Rep. Janet Allen, who played a key role in ensuring that SB-335 was passed without conditions on access.
NEW FILM TELLS STORY OF OREGON'S MEASURE 58
Measurable Rights: The Fight for Open Records in Oregon, is a film that tells how Helen Hill and Bastard Nation used Oregon's Ballot Measure 58 to open sealed birth certificates for all of Oregon's adult adoptees. Hill's Initiative turned into a civil rights battle that caused a sea of change in adoption laws across the country. Filmmaker Paul Fournier captures the very essence of grassroots activism as he follows Helen and Bastard Nation from the initiative's inception to it's ultimate victory in the courts. Bastards are viewed in intimate settings as they plan, learn, achieve voter support, and then fight court battles to set case precedent. "Measurable Rights "is inspiring and an essential teaching tool for all adoptee rights activists!
Watch the trailer, interact with the reformers, and order your DVD copy
JOIN BASTARD NATION
Editors: Anita Walker Field and David C. Ansardi
c. 2004 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
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