They’re mad. They’re organized. They’re from Ohio. And they are, by their own proclamation, bastards.
But aside from having an irresistibly catchy name, the Mad Ohio Bastards are just that—mad. And along with their parent organization, the international Bastard Nation, the Mad Ohio Bastards are pulling no punches in their attack on a child advocacy and adoption group which, they say, is acting in direct opposition to the rights of adult adoptees nationwide.
Last weekend, Hear My Voice (HMV), an organization that claims to focus on the best interest of children through adoption, held its national conference at Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center. What HMV members encountered was a small but angry group of bastards, who were protesting HMV for its apparent attempt to keep birth records of adult adoptees closed. This charge stems from a decision handed down last February by a Tennessee Court of Appeals that upheld an earlier decision, concluding that birth parents have no constitutional rights to withhold their identity from children they put up for adoption. Although the landmark case went in favor of adoptees’ rights, Bastard Nation claims HMV was an amica curae, or “friend of the court,” and worked to keep the birth records closed.
“Hear My Voice has shown contempt for the civil rights of six million adoptees in the U.S. today, and a total lack of understanding of the constitutional issues involved in sealed records,” said Marley Elizabeth Greiner, director of Mad Ohio Bastards. “Apparently the leadership of HMV is unconcerned about what happens when adopted children grow up and want information that rightfully belongs to them.”
Greiner said HMV is “a rather right-wing” organization, which teamed up with the Tennessee Eagle Forum and the Christian Coalition, among others, in its work on the Tennessee court ruling.
According to Bastard Nation, adoption records have been sealed in most states for the last 50 to 60 years, making adopted persons the only U.S. citizens who don’t have access to their own birth records when they become adults. At the same time, France, Mexico, Norway and Israel have never sealed birth records; and Scotland, Great Britain, New Zealand and Argentina have opened birth records to adult adoptees in recent decades. Aside from Tennessee, only Kansas and Alaska have opened the records to adult adoptees.
“I’ve known several people in Ohio who haven’t even found out they were adopted until they were in their 40s,” Greiner said. “There was one man in Oregon who found out [he was adopted] when he was 69; and I know of another woman in her 60s who found out, conducted a search and actually found her birth mother, when she was in her 90s.
“We are adults and we are entitled to information that belongs to us,” Greiner continued. “Anything short of unconditional access to our records is a negation of our constitutional rights and anti-adoptee.”
Although Bastard Nation is barely a year old, the international organization has members in the U.S., Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia. The organization helped defeat legislation in Pennsylvania that would have sealed adoptees’ birth records for another 99 years; and in Texas it helped kill a portion of a bill that would have delayed open-records legislation for years.
Greiner, who was adopted as a child, said Mad Ohio Bastards and Bastard Nation often are at odds with right-wing religious groups, which she said are constantly “sticking their noses in adult-adoptees’ issue,” adding that the Christian Coalition has worked alongside HMV to suppress birth records.
“They’re talking about [open birth records] ruining the lives of birth mothers,” Greiner said. “Since when did the Christian Coalition care about the rights or lives of birth mothers?”