News From Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
May 2005        Vol. 1 No. 14
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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.

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BILLS ARE BUSTING OUT ALL OVERÖ
[January 2005 Ė April 2005]

A remarkable number of bills have been introduced during this legislative session concerning the rights of adopted adults to their original birth documents. Fourteen (14) states in the US and the Province of Ontario, Canada, have adoptee rights bills moving their way through the state houses. Five of these are GOOD BILLS, meaning adoptees would access their original birth certificates without any condtions. The rest are BAD BILLS, meaning either they are conditional legislation bills or they are bills that bind adoptees to the status quo.

GOOD BILLS
New Hampshire passed its open records bill into law on January 1, 2005. Oklahoma and Nevada saw their good bills die in committee. Rhode Islandís bill is under study by the House committee as well as one of New Yorkís bills. An open records bill in Massachusetts has been assigned to committee, and legislation is in the planning stages in Maine.

BAD BILLS
Bad bills are making their way through committees in Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ontario.Nebraska has passed its bad bill into law and Indianaís bill is awaiting the governorís signature.


BABY STEPS DONíT WORK
By Anita Walker Field, Executive Committee, Bastard Nation

Social change is traditionally a very slow process. Adoptee rights are no exception. But no matter how long it takes, it is vital that we continue to pursue our goal of UNCONDITIONAL access to original birth documents for all adult adoptees.

Too many adoptees today are just giving in. They support bills that fall short of being unconditional equal rights legislation. They latch on to bills which would allow adoptees to be able to get their original birth certificates but only under certain circumstances. "After all," they say, " "Something is better than nothing." Many adoptees will support any legislation just for the pure "joy" of getting a bill passed. Then they can pat themselves on the back, put another notch in their belts, and call themselves "adoption reformers" They are not!

DEFORMERS

They are "Adoption Deformers," a phrase coined by Bastard Nation Executive Chair Marley Greiner. Deformers are adoptees who want us to proceed in baby steps. They ask us to accept bills which provide for conditional access, disclosure vetoes, contact vetoes, or intermediary systems. Deformers claim that these conditional access bills have a better chance of being passed and that is reason enough for us to grab them. They tell us that legislation which gives some adoptees restricted access to their original birth certificates is "better than nothing." They claim that conditional access legislation serves as intermediate steps to someday getting true open records legislation.

HISTORY KNOWS BETTER

Once laws are passed, legislators are very reluctant to revisit the issue of records legislation, which can result in future legislative changes being stalled for years or even decades. Once they do revisit the issue, there is no indication that legislators are more inclined to openness than before the conditional access legislation passed, and in many cases that legislation itself creates an impediment in terms of legal precedent.

In 1997, Oklahoma amended its adoption law to allow birth parents to file affidavits of non-disclosure. The Oklahoma group OORAH introduced a pure open records bill in this legislative session. The affidavits of non-disclosure proved to be a major impediment to the supporters who were fighting to keep their bill free from restrictions. No matter where on the bell curve the legislators may have been with open records, one thing became crystal clear. Not a one of them would touch those affidavits. Those affidavits are baby steps that have come back to haunt us.

Baby steps didnít work in Illinois either. In the early 1990s, Illinois enacted both an adoption registry and a confidential intermediary system. Both the registry and confidential intermediary system were "sold" as starting points for adult adoptees. These restrictive laws were supposed to eventually lead us to the Promised Land - the enactment of a pure open records bill. It never happened!

A pure open records bill was proposed in Illinois in 1996 and the lawmakers looked at us as if we were crazy. "We already did something for adoptees. They donít need anything else." The IL adoption registry and its confidential intermediary system stand today in the Illinois Adoption Act as permanent impediments to adoptees ever reaching the Promised Land.

DEFORMERS, WAKE UP

You donít need to bind yourselves to legislation that takes baby steps. I urge you to believe in your own worth and not what the legislators tell you about yourselves. Take a look at Oregon, Alabama, and New Hampshire. These three states, together with Kansas and Alaska, all have unconditional access to open records for adult adoptees. These are very diverse states Ėin geography, population, politics. But they all did it! Their victories are the fuel for our future successes.


SAFE HAVENS
By Marley Greiner, Executive Chair, Bastard Nation

[Excerpts from testimony submitted in March 2005, to Senate Committees in Illinois and California. Both states had bills pending that would make their safe haven laws permanent more than a year before the sunset provision of the laws went into effect.]

SAFE HAVENS: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THEM?

Safe Haven laws create a parallel child welfare system in which the state encourages and facilitates the universally condemned practice of anonymous infant abandonment. These laws run counter to established child welfare practice, statutes and initiatives and create a separate identity-stripping system that has never existed before even in closed adoption practices. Safe Havens initiated and supported by the most reactionary elements within the contemporary adoption industry are a direct attack on adoptees' right to identity and the successful open records movement--a fact admitted openly by those organizations and individuals. Safe Havens, with their no-questions-asked "relinquishment" provisions and emphasis on shame and secrecy are anti-child, anti-woman, anti-family, and anti-adoption.

SAFE HAVENS: WHO USES THEM?

Safe Havens are marketed as an easy solution for "desperate mothers" portrayed as so desperate and dangerous that unless they can anonymously and legally abandon their newborns, they would purposefully neglect or kill them. Yet, from what we know anecdotally of women who have utilized Save Havens or have been afforded Safe Haven "protection" in non-compliant cases, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The mothers who have ill advisedly used Safe Havens are neither abstract socially engineered profiles nor monster mothers conjured up by Safe Haven advocates They are flesh and blood individuals like us all. Their babies have fathers, grandparents, and perhaps siblings who will never have the privilege of knowing them due to the Safe Haven final solution.

What we see are not desperate dangerous women, but women who are disemempowered, and disenfranchised-- women ignorant of the real options afforded them to keep their babies through state or private assistance, temporary foster care, or relinquishment through ethical adoption. And they are kept ignorant through advertising campaigns that treat them as potential killers, fail to mention ethical alternatives, and then praise them for not killing their babies-something they would never have dreamed of doing anyway. These girls and women are isolated and confused, without networks of family support. They are often young and/or poor. In some cases it appears that they aren't anonymous. Drop-offs for some women can be simply a matter of convenience to fast track through a "non-bureaucratic placement"-- unhindered by counseling, fathers rights, and paper signing.

No matter what their situation, these mothers have been convinced to make a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Outside of extraordinary circumstances, they will never see their children again.

SAFE HAVENS: ALTERNATIVES

Safe Haven promotion fails to mention normal alternatives such as counseling, public assistance, ethical child placement-or even family communication. As a consequence, girls and women, attracted by simplistic ad campaigns, are tempted to act irresponsibility towards themselves and their babies. Relinquishment and adoption are life-changing and life-long events for both parent and child and should be done with the utmost care and concern, not at the prompting of a Safe Haven poster in a high school bathroom or a commercial on the radio. The babies and the future people they will grow into as well as their parents deserve better. They deserve the same right to identity, care, protection, and family as the rest of us. Legislators should ask themselves if they would want their daughters, granddaughters, wives or friends to use it?


BASTARD NATION WANTS YOU

BECOME A PROUD MEMBER OF BASTARD NATION
All you have to lose is your shame!

Bastard Nation represents you as the adult adoptee's voice for unconditional access to original birth records. We believe that all North Americans, adopted or not, have a right to access government records about their own lives.

Adopted adults, adoptive and biological family members, and friends of adoptees are all welcome to join Bastard Nationís work to establish respect, dignity, and equal rights for adoptees.

Bastard Nation is an all-volunteer organization. Your membership will help us in our fight to restore adoptee dignity and equality. Bastard Nation supports the efforts of any state working to pass an unconditional open records bill. So too will Bastard Nation take positive action to defeat a bad bill, one which does not provide for unconditional access.

We do not conduct searches and we are not a support group. However, since most of us have been through searching, we do try to provide pointers and other useful information on our website.

JOIN NOW! Please go to http://www.bastards.org/members/ for an application.





Where The Action Is

Stay tuned for updates and action alerts!

GET INVOLVED:

MASSACHUSETTS: MARTA

Nevada Open Website

OORAH - Oklahoma Open Records

Arizona Open

Missouri Open

Florida Records Equality Effort

California Open

Arkansas Open Needs Volunteers for Future Efforts!

Virginians for Adoption Reform and Education

Louisiana Adoption Advocates


NEWS DIGEST

BQ WELCOMES NEW EDITOR
Bastard Nation is happy to announce that Marla Paul is taking over the position of Editor of the BASTARD QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER ( the BQ). Marla is a long-time Bastard Nation member and supporter. Marla has lots of new and exciting ideas for the newsletter to which all members are automatically subscribed. Check your mail boxes at the end of June.

IN PRINT
Bastard National Shanna M. Castle was the subject of an article in Glamour Magazine back in 1999. That article has now become part of a textbook, "Controversy: Issues for Reading & Writing" (3rd Edition) by Julia J. Pula, R. Allen Dermott, and Audrey T. Edwards.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/
0131850962/002-6851626-6404845?
v=glance&vi=contents

ON TV
Executive Committee Member Natalie Proctor Servant, Ottawa, Canada, took time out of her busy "new mom" schedule to be interviewed for her local cable TV news station. Her basic message was that it was wonderful that a government cabinet minister is finally taking on open records, but that the contact vetoes with $50,000 penalties have gotta go!

ON THE MOVE
Executive Committee Chair Marley Greiner traveled to Washington, DC, to attend the annual NCFA conference. Her motto: "Know Thine Enemy."

Bastard Nation member Janet Allen, New Hampshire State Representative, and New Hampshire Senator Lou DíAllesandro traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to testify in support of HB 6301, a bill which would give adopted adults unconditional access to their original birth certificates.

Bastard National Nina Greeley, Esq., journeyed to Carson City, Nevada, to testify in support of SB 446, a pure open records bill for adult adoptees.

ACROSS THE SEAS
Bastard National Mari Steed announces that Ireland has Launched a National Contact Preference Register. AdoptionIreland: the Adopted People's Association to which Mari belongs, welcomed the launch of the country's first post-adoption State service, the National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR).
http://www.adoptionireland.com/

IN CYBERSPACE
THE DAILY BASTARDETTE features daily commentary by Bastardette on issues of identity and adoptee rights including open records for adult adoptees, Baby Moses/Safe Haven laws, and any other atrocity the adoption industry and its paid lobbyists--not to mention deformer "friends"--can devise to maintain The Adoption Culture of Shame.
http://www.bastards.blogspot.com/

WELCOME TO THE WORLD
Natalie Proctor Servant (Nat) and her husband Richard are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Zoe Irene Servant. She was born on February 22, 2005, weighing in at 7lbs 10.5 oz.

Nat is a member of the Bastard Nation Executive Committee. She resides in Ottawa, Canada, with her family.

CONDOLENCES
We send our sincere condolences to Executive Committee Member Donna Martz on the death of her father.



BEST IS THE PLACE TO "B"

The B.E.S.T. E-MAIL LIST - Bastards' Education, Strategy and Tactics List, is Bastard Nationís Members-Only Email list. You probably read about it when you joined, but never got around to following up. Why not give it a try? We invite all members to subscribe. This list is all about Bastards and Bastardy. Itís where you get to hang out with all the other Bastards whose mothers gave them away. Weíre really a fun group.You can participate as much or as little as you like. We come in two sizes, regular and digest.

BEST is for discussing any adoption issue, but itís particularly for talking about Bastard Nationís specific reform issues. During the legislative season, youíll be on top of whatís going on and where. BEST is a place to ask questions, try out new ideas, and stretch your mind. Youíll enjoy meeting and conversing with Bastards from all over North America.

You can subscribe by sending an email to: best-request@bastards.org with the word "subscribe" in the Subject: field of the email. To subscribe to the digest you send an email to best-d-request@bastards.org with the word "subscribe" in the Subject: field of the email.



GRANNY ANNIE ASKS: WHAT IFÖ?

What if every state in America decided to repeal all laws in their adoption codes that deal specifically with ADULT adoptees? Just take adult adoptees completely out of the mix! What if every state "aged us out of the system" in the same way that they age-out children who have been in foster care?

No more "adult adoptees."


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. 2005 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization


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