Our Mission

Bastard Nation 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. Such records are held by their governments in secret and without accountability, due solely to the fact that they were adopted.
Bastard Nation campaigns for the restoration of their right to access their records. The right to know one’s identity is primarily a political issue directly affected by the practice of sealed records adoptions. Please join us in our efforts to end a hidden legacy of shame, fear and venality.

Debate on birth records goes to court

Published on April 25, 1999

Debate on birth records goes to court

  • Adoption activists say it’s their constitutional right to find out where they’re from

By Gayle Vassar Melvin
TIMES STAFF WRITER


Adoption activists say their fight to open birth records is nothing short of a civil rights movement.

“We are not trying to garner special treatment, just to have what everyone else has,” says Ron Morgan of San Francisco, a leader in the reform group Bastard Nation. “We are very noncompromising on our stance, that there is a firm constitutional basis to see our birth certificates. It is a matter of equal treatment under the law.”

It’s an argument that found favor in Oregon, where 57 percent of the voters in November 1998 approved Measure 58, giving adult adoptees the right to their original birth certificates upon request. Implementation of the measure is on hold pending resolution of a lawsuit filed by seven birth mothers.

States started sealing birth records at the turn of the century to protect children from the stigma of illegitimacy. Most states, including California, seal original birth certificates when a child is adopted, issuing a new certificate bearing the adoptive parents’ names. Even if all members of the triad — the adoptee, birth parents and adoptive parents — agree to unseal the original birth certificate, it cannot be done.

Some states stopped sealing birth records for current and future adoptions, but have kept records from prior years sealed.

‘Breaking a promise’

It is the retroactive quality of Measure 58 that is unfair because it breaks the promise of confidentiality given to birth mothers of the past, says Franklin Hunsaker, the Oregon attorney representing the birth mothers who sued to block the measure.

“That is the true evil of Measure 58. These birth mothers don’t want to be found. Some of them were raped, some had a moment of indiscretion. They made a very difficult decision, based on promises of confidentiality and assurances that they would be able to move on with their lives. Now they dread that knock on the door.”

Hogwash, says adoptee Florence Fisher, who founded ALMA, probably the first adoption rights group in the United States, in 1971. “No parent has a right to privacy from his or her own child,” she says. “If (my biological mother) doesn’t want a relationship, let her tell that to me.”

Fisher may well have been the first adoptee to demand access to her records back in the 1950s. Furious over the roadblocks thrown her way, she took out an ad in the New York Times in 1970 asking other adoptees to contact her.

“It was a landslide,” she says of the response.

Soul searching

She founded ALMA, Spanish for “soul,” the next year, and was reunited with her birth parents around the same time. Other adoption reform groups followed, including the American Adoption Congress, and, in recent years, Bastard Nation.

Bastard Nation, whose members cheerfully acknowledge the in-your-face quality of their organization’s name, inspired Oregon’s Measure 58 with a speech at a yearly conference. Among those campaigning for Measure 58 were birth mothers of the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association.

Association president Dolores Teller disputes claims that birth mothers were promised confidentiality. None of the girls were made such promises at the maternity home where she gave birth in 1968, says Teller. “Nor did they want their children to be taken from them. But we had no choice,” she says.

Teller believes the fight to keep records closed is fear-based. “It’s all about controlling women. We were hidden away when we were pregnant, tied up in leather restraints for labor, and not allowed to see our children. Now all of a sudden, they care about us. They are hiding behind us because they just don’t want what happened in the past to become public.”

An easy find

Hunsaker disagrees. Adoptees can find their birth parents without open birth records. He should know, he says. As an adoptive father of five, he’s helped his adult children find their birth parents using the methods already in place, such as intermediaries who contacted the birth mothers and asked if they wanted to meet their children.

“The vice of Measure 58 is that it is not based on mutual consent,” says Hunsaker. “It is saying ‘My rights trump whatever rights the birth parents have.’ The pro-58 people say they have a right to see their original birth certificate no matter what, and I think that’s wrong.”

What is wrong, say adoptees, is that they are the only adults whose parents continue to have power over their birth certificates.

“Babies don’t ask to be adopted,” says Sarah Alexander of El Cerrito, who found her birth parents when she was in her late 20s. “It is a decision birth parents made without the child having any say in it. As an adult, they have the right to face the adult who relinquished them and hear why they were relinquished.”

Opening birth records does more than pave the way for a reunion between parent and child, says Damsel Plum of Bastard Nation. It eases the stigma many adoptees believe is in inherent in being adopted.

“We just want equal access under the law to our birth records, and dignity in fighting the stereotypes surrounding adoption,” she says.

Follow Bastard Nation

Who Am I?

Pennsylvania already denies adoptees access to their birth records. Now activists are fighting a proposed law that would make it a crime to search for birth parents.

by Frank Lewis

The meeting occurred almost 20 years ago, but Sue Romberger still recalls the frustration of sitting across a desk from a woman who could answer all her questions about her mysterious past, but wouldn’t.An adult adoptee, Romberger went in 1980 to the agency that handled her adoption, seeking information that would help her find her parents. She’d obtained her original birth certificate, but hadn’t been able to locate her birth mother with the limited information it provided. The woman at the adoption agency doled out tidbits that were of little value to her search while Romberger fought the urge to lunge across the desk and grab the file from her hands.

“And then she finally slipped,” Romberger recalls. The woman gave her a detail that indicated Romberger’s mother had lived in Montgomery County (the birth certificate had suggested she lived in western Pennsylvania). “And to this day I don’t know if she slipped on purpose or by accident.” … Continue Reading

Follow Bastard Nation

new! Bastard Nation Analysis and Endorsement of the Adoptee Citizenship Act 2015

new!  Bastard Nation Analysis and Endorsement of the Adoptee Citizenship Act 2015

Stop deporting our brothers and sisters!

Bastard Nation Executive Committee and LegCom page

Bastard Nation Executive Committee and LegCom page

Read about Bastard Nation leadership

THE BASTARD BOUTIQUE IS NOW OPEN! STOCK UP ON BASTARD SWAG FOR YOURSELF, YOUR FRIENDS. GIVE THE GIFT OF BASTARDY TO ANYONE, ANY TIME, ANY WHERE.

THE BASTARD BOUTIQUE IS NOW OPEN!  STOCK UP ON BASTARD SWAG FOR YOURSELF, YOUR FRIENDS. GIVE THE GIFT OF BASTARDY TO ANYONE, ANY TIME, ANY WHERE.

Your one-stop shopping for everything Bastard is now live. You can get our latest Bastard Nation swag at the Bastard Boutique. Quantities are limited! -- CLICK THE PIC!

FACEBOOK OFFICIAL BN PAGE

FACEBOOK OFFICIAL BN PAGE

Join us on the Official Bastard Nation Facebook page. The only "adoption" page on Facebook dedicated to discussion and promotion of adoptee autonomy, civil rights, bastard theory, political organizing, and activism. You can also sign up there for our BN mail list which includes all of our Action Alerts. This is not a search and support page. No Woundies need apply! (Page live on July 1, 2015)

FACEBOOK SOCIAL BN PAGE

FACEBOOK SOCIAL BN PAGE

Join the Bastard Nation Public Page, a public service for Bastard Nationals, friends and supporters. General discussion on adoptee rights and related issues.

TWITTER

TWITTER

Join us on Twitter. All the Bastardly news fit to tweet!

PINTEREST

PINTEREST

Join us on Pinterest. Bastard icons, images, members, actions, politics, and fun. And Christopher Walken!

Become a Bastard Nation Legislative Liaison!

Become a Bastard Nation Legislative Liaison!

Bastard Nation needs Legislative Liaisons in every state with laws that seal adoption records. We need eyes and ears in the legislatures, creating relationships and gathering information.

What does a BN Legislative Liaison do? They talk with lawmakers and their staff about adoptee rights and the laws that seal records. They distribute Bastard Nation position papers and FAQs to legislators and staff members. They record their conversations and report to the BN Legislative Committee.

They are organized, informed, friendly, helpful, and engaged.

What do you need to do to be a BN Legislative Liaison?

1. You need to live close to the capitol of your state.
2. You need to be able to appear friendly, even when talking with people who disagree with you or are just disagreeable, period.
3. You need to have a flexible schedule.
4. You need to agree with Bastard Nation’s mission: If you don’t know what that is, go to bastardnation.org, it’s right there on our welcome page.

Those are the prerequisites. If you are interested, click the picture of the capitol rotunda, and fill out the application form. We will be in touch and schedule an online orientation and training.

We look forward to working with you!

Read what real live adoptees have to say about secret adoption and sealed records....A service of Bastard Nation and Emma Pea! Fighting adoptacrats since 1996.

Hit the pic for archives.

Bastardly Books by Bastards and Friends

Bastardly  Books by Bastards and Friends

A reading list for all Good Bastards

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Meet Sharley!

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:  Meet Sharley!

Bastard Nation Moms Club

Bastard Nation Moms Club

Bastard Nation is gathering the names of moms who are willing to step forward and say that they were never promised confidentiality. If you are willing to participate, please comment this status. Your name (and if you choose, the relinquishment date) will be added to a list used in newspaper ads and to educate legislators.

Bastard Nation Action Alerts (from old BN page)

Recent Comments

Bastardly Books by Bastards and Friends

GET INVOLVED with Bastard Nation’s national and state-level advocacy efforts. Sign up or update your contact information here. We’ll be in touch.

GET INVOLVED  with Bastard Nation’s national and state-level advocacy efforts. Sign up or update your contact information here. We’ll be in touch.

bastard-chronicles

bastard-chronicles

Help us celebrate 20 years of bastardy! Bastard Nation is proud to announce the publication of "The Bastard Chronicles: 20 Years of Adoptee Equality Activism in the U.S.and the Birth of a Bastard Nation", Compiled and edited by Marla Paul, "The Bastard Chronicles" is primer for adoptee equality. It features a diverse collection of Bastard theory, and practice, Bastard and Bastard Nation history, legislative and political action, personal stories, art, and literature. It is the public face of Class Bastard written by Bastard Nationals and those we have influenced. Get yours in time for the holidays. Available at Amazon in print and Kindle today. (After the first of the year the print edition will also be available through the Bastard Boutique.

Bastards! Our Bastard Nation Logo T-shirts are now in the boutique! Show the world that we have no shame. Wear it proudly and represent!

Bastards! Our Bastard Nation Logo T-shirts are now in the boutique! Show the world that we have no shame. Wear it proudly and represent!

We also found a stash of our vintage BN logo keychains. There are only 10 left, so order yours! When they're gone, they're gone! Click he pic!

Join Bastard Nation!

Join Bastard Nation!

This summer we are updating our membership/donation page and payment process. If you would like to join or donate, please hit the spemrie. It will take you to our Bastard Boutique page. Follow instructions from there. Be sure to include a quick note with your contact information and anything else you'd like us us know..

My, my it’s American Bastard Pie! (design by Lisa Zatonsky)

My, my it’s American  Bastard Pie! (design by Lisa Zatonsky)

See our state partners:

See our state partners:

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: CalOpen

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: CalOpen

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Indiana Open Access

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Indiana Open Access

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Michigan Open Access

Proud Bastard Nation Partner:  Michigan Open Access

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Missouri Open

Proud Bastard Nation Partner:  Missouri Open

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Equal Access Oklahoma

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Equal Access Oklahoma

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Open Adoption Records in Quebec

Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Open Adoption Records in Quebec

SAMPLE STATE ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION AGAINST VETOES AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS

SAMPLE STATE ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION AGAINST VETOES AND OTHER RESTRICTIONS

Any political organization seeking to enact true open records legislation should be very clear with both their constituents and the legislators they work with about what the essential provisions of the proposed bill are. Any modification or deletion of the essential provisions of a bill should be immediate cause to have the bill killed.

Any political organization seeking the assistance of Bastard Nation to pass open records legislation must hold unconditional access by adult adoptees to the original record of their birth as an essential provision that cannot be modified or deleted. Read our Mission Statement.

Bastard Nation will not assist any political organization to pass open records legislation unless their governing board or other leadership

passes a written resolution such as the following that commits the board to a strategy of no compromise on key provisions
informs its constituents of this commitment and this strategy
informs the sponsoring legislators of this commitment and this strategy.

WHEREAS we recognize that disclosure and contact vetoes, redactions, mandatory intermediaries and registry provisions are an affront to the dignity of adopted persons everywhere and a violation of their right to due process and equal treatment under the law,

WHEREAS there has been a demonstrable negative effect on the ability to pass unconditional open records in states that have passed veto legislation and/or any provisions that are less than unconditional access on demand by the adult adoptee,

WHEREAS our primary goal is to restore the right of adult adoptees everywhere to be treated as full citizens under the law,

WE HEREBY DECLARE that under no circumstances will we accept the addition of veto, redaction, intermediary, or registry provisions, or any conditional provisions to our legislation that would be less than unconditional access for adult adoptees to the original record of their birth. All legislative sponsors and members of this organization will be informed of our policy on this matter to ensure that the bill is pulled promptly in the event of such revisions.

Share This!