VI. Know Thine Enemies
The organized opposition to adoptee rights represents the full spectrum of mainstream political ideology in the United States, ranging from the far-right Christian conservatism of the Family Research Council to the left-liberalism of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. In a political system where issues are usually framed in terms of conservatism and liberalism, what sense can we make of an opposition that cuts across these normally unbridgeable philosophical gulfs?
The enemies of adoptee rights fall into two basic categories, ideological and industrial. Ideological opposition comes from various state chapters of the ACLU and Right to Life, organizations that do not have a financial interest in adoption. Industrial opposition is represented primarily by the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and other adoption agency fronts such as Concerned Adoption Professionals (a political action committee or PAC formed specifically to fight Oregon’s Ballot Measure 58 in 1998). There is much overlap in these two categories, and the industrial lobbyists hold an inordinate influence among the ideological opposition, which often parrots the rhetoric of the adoption industry without change or commentary.
Most ideological opposition organizes the debate around central issues which are actually peripheral to adoptee rights. Both Planned Parenthood and Right to Life oppose open records because they feel that access to or frequency of abortion will be affected by changes in the law. Planned Parenthood and other feminist organizations have asserted that permanently sealed records are a reproductive choice equivalent to the medical confidentiality of abortion. The state chapters of the ACLU that have come out against open records have used a tortured argument based on non-existent privacy rights that neither the general public nor legislators have taken very seriously. Concerted outreach and education is effective in neutralizing this opposition, both with the general public and within the oppositional organization itself.
The industrial opposition’s motivation is much more transparent — trade protection. In the years since Bastard Nation has shifted the discourse of adoptee rights from psychologically based pleas to straightforward assertions of civil rights, the rhetoric of the industrial opposition has shifted in reaction, revealing an honest apprehension of tort liability and systemic accountability.
The Christian Right possesses qualities of both categories. As ultraconservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council heavily promote adoption as a primary remedy to a gallery of perceived social ills, large constituency churches (including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Mormons]) and their auxiliary organizations, including church oriented social service agencies and crisis pregnancy centers, have entered the adoption industry to facilitate their theologically based social policies. Honing the existing rhetoric of the industrial lobbyists like the NCFA, these theological opponents of adoptee rights pose as our greatest potential opponents due to their extensive grassroots penetration and their enormous fundraising capabilities.
Other organizations that oppose open records are: The American Center for Law and Justice, The Christian Broadcasting Network, The American Life League, The National Right to Life Committee, The Christian Coalition, The Eagle Forum, The Family Research Council and Hear My Voice.
Our greatest ally in the continuing struggle for adoptee rights is the average citizen, whose common sense and basic understanding of fairness and equality are qualities we can count on for support.