News From Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
April 2006        Vol. 1 No. 21
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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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A WITCHíS BREW IN NEW ENGLAND


"...A study committee is the legislative equivalent of a task force. It's where do-gooders, do-nothings, and politicians send issues they don't want to deal with to die forgotten and alone..."
The Daily Bastardette: http://www.bastardette.blogspot.com/


MAINE
The Joint Committee on the Judiciary addressed House Bill LD 1805 on February 28th. This excellent bill, sponsored by Representative Gerald Davis, is a pure open records bill. It would allow all adopted adults unconditional access to their original birth certificates.Bastard Nationís Chairperson, Marley Greiner, as well as other members of Bastard Nation, traveled to Augusta to testify at the hearing. This bill was not passed out of the committee after the hearing. Voting was held up pending work sessions on the bill.

Bastard Nation sent letters to members of the Joint Judiciary Committee, both before the hearing in February and again during their work session. We supported Representative Davisí bill wholeheartedly throughout the legislative process.

However, several members of the Joint Judiciary Committee do not support Representative Davisí bill - Representative Pelletier-Simpson and Senator Faircloth. Each one wrote amendments to the bill which added restrictions to adopteesí access.

Our resources gave us this latest run down on the amendments:

Rep. Pelletier-Simpson- 6 votes. Her amendment removes the provision for adoptee access prior to August 8, 1953. It also is prospective and has a disclosure veto.

Senator Faircloth, with 2 votes, wrote an amendment that prospectively allows adoptees unrestricted access upon reaching the age of 40. His amendment also contains most of the other restrictive provisions in Rep. Pelletier-Simpsonís amendment.

We did the arithmetic and things looked mighty grim for Rep. Davisí original bill.

Bastard Nation deduced that if 3 different amendments came out of the committee, the one with the most supporters would be the one to be voted upon first - Rep. Pelletier-Simpsonís amendment. Our fear is great that Rep. Pelletier-Simpsonís amended bill will pass the house. If it does, what would be the need of even bringing up the other two amendments?

It would be a disaster if any one of the conditions in either Representative Pelletier-Simpsonsís or Senator Fairclothís amendments were to pass. Adoptees in Maine would be worse off than before this legislative session began. Therefore, on April 9th, Bastard Nation issued an Action Alert to kill the bill. We know that historically, restrictive bills are not readily revisited. Once a bill is encoded into the law, it stays there for many years. Our ďKill the BillĒ strategy is aimed at preventing a bad bill from being pased into law.


MASSACHUSETTS
SB 959, Massachusettsí open records bill, was very well received by the Joint Committee on Children & Families way back in October 2005. Supporters of SB 959 were fairly confident that this bill, sponsored by Senator Susan C. Fargo, would successfully pass out of the Committee. Instead, the Committee voted to table a vote on SB 959. March 15th was the deadline for a vote. However, the Committee received an extension of the deadline for a vote until May 11, 2005.

Word has it that amendments are being made to SB 959 which would change its intent completely. The latest committee amendments under consideration deal with changing SB 959 to a prospective action only. It would also add a disclosure veto and section requiring mandatory counseling.


CONNECTICUT
SB 0004 is an act to provide adult adopted persons with access to information in original birth certificates. The bill, co-sponsored by Senators William Finch and Representative Peter F. Villano was referred in February to the Joint Committee on Children.

The Joint Committee made changes to SB 0004, turning it into a prospective bill only. That is, only adoptees born after the bill takes effect would be eligible to request and receive their original birth certificates when they reach the age of majority. The Committee also added a disclosure veto.

Co-Sponsor William Finch wrote an impassioned letter to the Hartford Courant, explaining why this amendment would destroy the intent of the original bill.
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-finch0319.artmar19
,0,994782.story?coll=hc-headlines-oped


SHOW ME STATE SAYS NO FOR 4TH TIME!

Missouri HB 1436 would allow an adopted person 18 years of age or older to receive a certified copy of his or her original birth certificate. The bill, co-sponsored by Representatives Connie "LaJoyce" Johnson and James Whorton, was sent to the House Committee on the Judiciary. A public hearing was completed on February 28, 2006. Another hearing was not scheduled and this bill is currently not on any calendar. It will remain in the Judiciary Committee until the end of the session which in reality means that this bill will effectively die in committee.


ONTARIO AT WORK ON BILL 183

Ontario is now in the 18-month period between Bill 183 passing and the law coming into force. Regulations are being written but are not yet finalized, so it is unclear whether or not non-identifying information will still be available or how the review board will determine whether or not a disclosure veto will be granted.


"Artist, reader, writer, healer, one who lives."

CRAIG HICKMAN, BASTARD OUT OF MAINE

Craig Hickman is an adoptee living in reunion with his birth family since April 2001. Currently, he lives in Maine, but he was born and adopted in Wisconsin "where the laws are as rigid, archaic, and inhumane as those that governed slavery. Except there are even fewer routes to freedom."

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK.
I'm a writer, author, editor, publisher, masseur, chef, and run a bed & breakfast on a farm in a place I like to call heaven. The end of the rainbow, baby, the end of the rainbow.

WHAT TURNED YOU FROM AN ADOPTEE INTO AN ADOPTEE-ACTIVIST?
I've always been an activist. Being from Milwaukee, a place where civil rights activism and community activism was instilled in my consciousness at an early age, I've always been on the front lines. As a gay man who's fought with ACT UP! to get the federal government retards and murderers to pay attention to AIDS in the late 80s, early 90s, I've done my share of guerrilla action and lobbying. After fighting through ignorance and dismissal as a second-class citizen by silly and power-tripping bureaucrats and adoption agency workers with attitude in my search to find my roots, I vowed to do whatever I could so that no other bastard would have to go through what I went through in trying to receive their birth right: their complete and unaltered adoption records, their history, their life stories from the very beginning.

WHERE IS THE OPEN-RECORDS MOVEMENT GOING TODAY?
Worldwide, I believe the movement is strong. In these disUnited States, I believe the movement suffers from well-intentioned but misguided people who know little about how to really put the issues front and center and who tend to roll over and play polite or dead when any obstacle is thrown in their faces.

The open records movement in Wisconsin is virtually a non movement at this time. The good news is in states such as New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut--all in New England (who'd have thunk it???)--the issue is on the table before legislatures. It seems that as more legislation around the country opens records, more states take up the cause. I'd have to give Bastard Nation credit with that.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHO ARE THE BIGGEST ENEMIES OF OPEN RECORDS TODAY?
The ACLU, from what I've heard about, mostly, which I must say surprises me; Planned Parenthood; the National Council for Adoption; and, of course, the good old Catholic Church, which is of course anything that would blow up the habits of naughty nuns and rip the frocks of frolicking priests.

CAN YOU TELL US ANY ANECDOTE OR UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE SINCE YOUíVE BECOME AN ACTIVIST?
I don't consider too many things unusual for even in my short life I've seen almost everything. I simply abhor ignorance. And there's so much of it coming from those who oppose open records and the legislators who hold the power to make a difference that it makes me want to puke. I also find it detestable that states are trying to protect birth mother's from their own flesh and blood, the very same young women and girls who agencies and religious institutions cruelly shamed into surrendering their offspring in the first place, under some smoke-and-mirrors "right to privacy" issues. That people don't know that right to privacy is about privacy from government intrusion in the private life of the citizenry bugs me beyond belief.

And those opposed to open records are making sure the government continues its intrusion into the private lives of mothers who've surrendered their children to adoption and those who've been adopted. Well, it's just a sham, I tell you, a sham. To hear a woman like the Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee in Maine, who was never raped, and never had a child stolen from her, utter how "deeply offended" she is that we just won't allow "these women" to move on with their lives is worse than nails on a chalkboard. The government needs to get the fuck out of the way and let grown people be grown and handle their own affairs. What a concept, eh?

Adoption remains the only institution in these here disUnited States other than slavery that keeps or has kept people from knowing their roots. Imagine that. Adoption; slavery. Adoption; slavery. Say it again and again and never forget it.

Adoption; slavery.

It took a war to bring about emancipation from one. What's it going to take to right the wrongs of the other?

MORE ABOUT CRAIG HICKMAN
Craig Hickman has just completed a memoir entitled Fumbling Toward Divinity: The Adoption Scriptures, which was published in February 2005. Following its release, he was named a finalist in the spirituality category of the 18th Annual Lambda Literary Awards for this stunning memoir. Fumbling Toward Divinity chronicles the authorís quest for his birth heritage and the aftermath. It is a one-of-a-kind, ambitious, and masterful work.

http://hometown.aol.com/abcfarmbooks/
http://hometown.aol.com/craighickman
http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2005/2/prweb208549.htm
http://hometown.aol.com/craighickman/artistrez.html


REMINDER: BASTARD NATIONíS NEW ADDRESS:

Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization P.O. Box 1469 Edmond, OK 73083-1469





Latest adoptee protest sign





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

Arkansas Open Needs Volunteers for Future Efforts!

Virginians for Adoption Reform and Education

Louisiana Adoption Advocates


EXTRA EXTRA: READ ALL ABOUT IT


ADOPTEES SHOULDNíT BE DENIED RIGHT TO IDENTITY
"What I am demanding is access to my identity, which was taken from me at birth and remains secreted away from me by state law to this day. My identity doesn't belong to anyone but me. "
Connecticut State Senator William Finch, Co-Sponsor of a true open records bill, SB0004.
Read the Article

JANET ALLEN TO SENATOR FINCH: "JOIN THE GROWN-UPS TABLE"
"The major difference between Senator Finch and myself is that New Hampshire has corrected the error that was made when birth certificates were retroactively sealed. On January 3, 2005, I was the first adopted adult in NH to receive her original birth certificate under our new law. To try to describe how this felt is difficult, but I can tell you that it was similar to finally being allowed to sit at the adult table at Thanksgiving. This is what I wish for Senator Finch; the opportunity to finally sit at the adult table in the great State of Connecticut."
New Hampshire State Representative Janet Allen
Read the Article

DAILY BASTARDETTE NUMBER ONE!
Carrie Craft, writer for Adoption Online, has selected her Top 7 Adoption Blogs and guess whoís Number One? Right - itís THE DAILY BASTARDETTE at http://www.bastardette.blogspot.com/

Ms. Craft calls The Daily Bastardette:
"A very interesting and fun blog to read as Bastardette knows how to wield a keyboard. From Bastardette: "The Daily Bastardette features 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. It is an independent blog and not connected to any organization."

ADOPTION IS NOT A REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS ISSUE
"The opponents of open records on both the Right and the Left have tried to connect open records for adopted adults to issues of abortion and reproductive rights. This is a mistake and misuse of words, as all issues of reproductive rights cease once a living child, a separate individual with citizenship and rights of his own, is born. Adoption IS NOT a reproductive rights issue, nor is it family preservation, any more than child abuse, breastfeeding, day care, or decent schools are, although all these issues are important and relate to children."
Mary Anne Cohen, Bastard Nation Blog

GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP OF INTERNET USELESS
"The ability to really withhold information no longer exists."
Bill Gates at a news conference in Lisbon
Read the Article

INTELLIGENCE REFORM & TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT

"Sometimes itís the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore."
In These Times


EDITORIAL

COP-OUT OR AGE-OUT?
By Anita Walker Field

COP-OUT

1) The COP-OUT Adoption system is two tiered: 1) birth certificates for all non-adoptees with no questions asked and 2) birth certificates for some adopted adults with plenty of questions asked. These two groups are treated differently when requesting their own public records based solely upon whether or not they were adopted. The COP-OUT system believes in discrimination, you see.

2) How do the states manage to cop out? Easy! They sanction laws with conditional legislation. Contact vetoes, disclosure vetoes, proactive clauses, confidential intermediary systems, registries - all conditional legislation. I like to call these restrictive laws the ":IF....THEN ACTS." They all have the same main ingredient. They all say: " IF...... your birth parent agrees.....THEN you can have your birth certificate.

3) All states have a constitutional and/or statutory responsibility to maintain and to issue birth certificates, upon request to those people whose births they record. But COP-OUT States sometimes slyly get around this duty. They pass it on to women whose only qualifications are that they once irrevocably relinquished their biological children to the state and to adoption. How "oxymoronic" is that?

4) COP-OUT states are cowardly. They are afraid of outside influences. COP-OUTS try to please everyone by spreading the rights all around. They say itís a nice thing to do. Maybe. But it is not the RIGHT thing to do.

AGE-OUT

1) In the AGE-OUT system, the state recognizes adopted adults as equal citizens. Thatís because AGE-OUT states donít believe in discrimination.

2) AGE-OUT states are courageous. They are not scaredy cats. They do not leave any adoptees behind.

3) In the AGE-OUT system, states understand that they no longer have any compelling interest in adults who were once children of adoption. The AGE-OUT states did good jobs of finding permanent adoptive homes for little homeless tots. But AGE-OUT States know that when all these little adoptees reach adulthood, itís time to cut the cord. And so they do. And why not?

4) Adopted adults in AGE-OUT states are treated as main stream citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as every other person living in the state. Adopted adults blend into the general population and are no longer considered by their state to be in any way different because they were adopted. Now this is really nice.

5) The AGE-OUT system says the same thing to adopted adults as it says to foster children who have reached the age of majority: " Here are your papers. Goodbye and good luck."

Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, New Hampshire and Oregon are AGE -OUT States. They are giving original birth certificates to all citizens who request them. They know itís the right thing to do and they arenít afraid to do it.


JOIN BASTARD NATION

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Fill Out an Application now at http://www.bastards.org/members

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


Editors: Anita Walker Field and David C. Ansardi
c. 2006 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization


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