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Frequently Asked Questions

Who runs Bastard Nation?

Executive Commitee and Legislative Commitee page

Bastard Nation Founding Foundings


What’s with the name?

The more than half-century old practice of impounding and sealing an adopted person’s original birth records in perpetuity has had the disastrous effect of breeding deep and long lasting attitudes of shame in all areas of the adoption process. Secrets and lies abound. So we decided to reclaim the term “Bastard” — to take it back and make it ours. In so doing, we hope to explode the myths of shame surrounding adoption and focus attention on the absolute necessity of changing the laws.

We at Bastard Nation believe that there is NOTHING shameful about having been born out of wedlock or about being adopted. We selected our name because we will no longer be made to feel shamed by the odious state laws that permanently seal our original birth records. We do not fling the word “bastard” at anyone. Rather, we wear it proudly as we work to achieve our goal of equal and unconditional access to original birth records for all adult adoptees.  More about who we are

Why are you so angry?

We are angry that we continue to be treated as second-class citizens, as dirty little secrets, long after most of the world has recognized the rights of adult adoptees to knowledge of their origins and equal access to government-held documents which pertain to them. We are angry at those self-interested sections of the adoption industry which continue to lobby for sealed records, hiding their own past misdeeds under a cloak of “birth parent privacy,” and implying that adoptees are potential stalkers who would harm their birth parents if they had access to their own records. We are angry that the media still portrays us far too often as “adopted children,” refusing to let us grow up and take our places as full citizens of this country. More about the sealed records system

If all this makes you angry, too, please join us!

Is Bastard Nation a search organization?

No. While we support those adoptees who wish to search for birth relatives and offer resources on our website, we do not help people search. Our mission relates only to unconditional adoptee access to birth and adoption records. Our concern is the relationship of the adopted person to the state, not to his or her birth or adoptive parents. We believe it is a personal decision whether one wishes to reconnect with birth relatives, one which adoptees should be able to make freely without state interference.

Is Bastard Nation anti-adoption?

No. We are not anti-adoption; we ARE adoption. The opposition to open records, most notably the National Council for Adoption, has long characterized those who are for open records as being anti-adoption, since in their convoluted logic the end of sealed records will destroy adoption as an institution. There are many adoption-related issues BN takes no position on. While individual members hold varying views on adoption, the only mission of Bastard Nation is the restoration and maintenance of the right of adopted persons to unconditional access to their own state-held records.

Why won’t Bastard Nation compromise?

There are issues on which Bastard Nation will compromise, such as the age at which adoptees should be able to access their original birth certificates. What we will not compromise on are the basic civil and human rights of adult adoptees. We will accept nothing less than unconditional access to our original birth and adoption records. More about Conditional Access Legislation and other Legislative Compromises

Is open records the same as open adoption?

No. Open records refers to an adult adoptee having equal access to legal documents which pertain to him or her, including the original birth certificate and adoption decree. Open adoption refers to an arrangement for raising an adopted child in which the birth parents, adoptive parents, and minor adopted child have some form of ongoing relationship. Even in an open adoption the adult adoptee cannot access his birth and adoption records. Bastard Nation has no position on open adoption.

What has Bastard Nation done to get records open?

In November 1998, the voters of Oregon approved the Bastard Nation-inspired ballot initiative, Measure 58, which made Oregon the first state to open unconditionally previously sealed records to adult adoptees. After a series of unsuccessful court challenges, the law finally went into effect on May 30, 2000. More about the Oregon Adoptee Rights Initiative, Measure 58

Also in May 2000, with the full support of the Governor and Lt. Governor, a unanimous vote in the House and only two dissenting votes in the Senate, Alabama reversed its 1991 sealed records law and granted unrestricted access to original birth and adoption records to that state’s adult adoptees. This was accomplished through the lobbying efforts of Alabamians Working for Adoption Reform and Education (AWARE), with the support of Bastard Nation and other adoption reform organizations. Visit the archived AWARE website

In 2004 Bastard Nation was part of a loose coalition of activists in New Hampshire that worked on the passage of SB 335, a bill that restored the right of OBC access in that state.  Bastard Nation Executive Committee member Janet Allen, then serving in her second term in the New Hampshire House, worked closely with bill sponsor Sen. Lou D’Alesandro and House Speaker Mike Whalley in not only navigating passage, but convincing the governor to sign the bill.   As of December 31, 2011, 1497  OBCs had been requested.  New Hampshire adoptees have received their birth certificates. Read more about the campaign on our New Hampshire page.

In 2012 we worked in an advisory capacity with activists in Rhode Island to pass HB    which restored  the right of  birth record access to Rhode Island adoptees at the age of 25–a time limit we hope will be reduced to 18 or 21 soon.

We have lobbied for unconditional adoptee rights in many other states as well, including Missouri, Louisiana,  Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Washington, Connecticut, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and California. Many of these efforts are ongoing.

Bastard Nation was influential in seeing that the Hague Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 upheld and respected the rights of internationally adopted persons. More on the Intercountry Adoption Act

Bastard Nation has fought against legalized anonymous abandonment (babydumps), which strips future adoptees of their identity. View the Bastard Nation Executive Committee Statement on Legalized Abandonment Laws

What does the media have to say about Bastard Nation?

Bastard Nation has appeared in publications from Rolling Stone Magazine to USA Today to The Weekly Standard. Bastard Nation members have appeared on Talk of the Nation (NPR), CNN Talkback Live and CBS This Morning and in many other venues.  Our Media Archives page is currently outdated, and we hope to have a more complete listing soon

Who belongs to Bastard Nation?

We’re from the United States, Canada, and many other countries. We’re from all ethnic groups, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and walks of life. We’re librarians and film editors, homemakers and business people, piano teachers and military personnel, single and married; some of us have children, some do not; we are aunts and uncles and grandmothers, godparents and parents and siblings; we are cartoonists and clergy persons, beauticians and biochemists, old and young and in between. We are just like YOU; we ARE you, except that we are being denied our full civil and human rights simply because we were adopted.

Birth parents, adoptive parents, and others who support unconditional adoptee rights may also join.

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



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!



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)



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



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



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.



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)

Bastardly Books by Bastards and Friends



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Recent Comments



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.

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



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.