Home » News » Currently Reading:

Fight over adoption secrecy.

February 22, 1999 News No Comments

San Francisco EXAMINER EDITORIAL WRITER Feb. 22, 1999

———————————————————————- ———-

Adoptees’ drive for right to identify birth parents can conflict with elders’ need for privacy

IN APPROVING a two-sentence initiative last November, Oregon voters set off a 21-year time bomb. Explosions are already being heard.

Measure 58 would allow anyone 21 or older who was born in Oregon to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate. Sounds simple enough. But until now, that right has been denied to people who were adopted, because on that certificate are the birth parents’ names.

The process in Oregon is basically the same as it is in 48 other states. Once an adoption takes place, a second birth certificate is created that lists the new parents. The original certificate is sealed away, and the adoptee cannot see it without a court order. Alaska and Kansas have open access to adoption records. Tennessee passed such a law in 1996, but it is stalled in the courts.

The Oregon measure is also on hold because a group of birth mothers has sued, arguing that state statutes promise them confidentiality and to break that promise would be unconstitutional.

In the meantime, lives – although not yet shattered – are crumbling, revealing the fault lines of heartbreak on which they’ve been built.

Take this slice of real life reported in Time Magazine: Two decades ago, when C. was in college, a man beat and raped her. Devastated, she had a baby girl but gave her up for adoption. Last year, after much soul-searching, she decided to find out what had become of her child. She gave the state where the baby was born permission to contact her if the child asked her whereabouts. The two began exchanging letters through the adoption agency, but C. held back her identity and whereabouts.

A wise move, she now says. After C. told her daughter about the rape, the young woman wrote back an oddly merry and uncomprehending note – “Hi, how’s everything going?” She said she was glad to learn “about my father’s situation” and wanted to know how to find him. The daughter, with the help of her adoptive mother, persisted in searching for her father, the man C. had helped send to prison. Fearing that he might find her through their daughter and harm her again, C. ended all contact.

Measure 58 would remove the buffer of an intervening agency in any tentative first steps toward contact.

Anguish is everywhere in the adoption equation. The anguish of the birth mother, perhaps the victim of rape or incest, most often young and at a loss, with a fateful decision to make. The anguish of adoptive parents who may have wanted a child for years and been unable to conceive. And eventually, the anguish of adopted children haunted by phantom birth parents who, they may feel, “abandoned” them – beings who exist and who are identified in state records but whom they cannot know. Phantom limbs on the family tree.

Opponents of the measure include the Washington-based National Council for Adoption, a nonprofit group that includes many church-affiliated adoption agencies and has been accused of being a Trojan horse for the Mormon church.

Chief petitioner in Measure 58 is Helen Hill, an adoptee and member of Bastard Nation, a radical adoptee-rights group that has a San Rafael address but mostly exists on the Internet. “This is about civil rights,” she says. “There is no reason we should be denied a basic right.”

Opponents of the measure say you can’t uphold one person’s civil rights by trampling on those of another.

Hill told an Oregon newspaper that Bastard Nation was born when a core group of adoptees got frustrated with the adoption world’s old guard and decided they wanted unconditional access to adoption records. Immediately. One of that core group, Marley Greiner, writes on the group’s Web site: “What I am angry about, and I believe nearly all adoptees are angry about, is the secrecy-shame context of the closed adoption system.

“When I end my letters with “By any means necessary’ . . . I am dead serious. Mass burnings of amended birth certificates, . . . crank letters to legislators, solidarity with adoptees in Greece and Spain who have demanded access to their records, heritage and histories. It’s all up to us. Power is not given; it is taken.”

It’s almost as if the angry children of Bastard Nation who fought so hard for Measure 58 are outing their own mothers. Where is the concern for a mother confronted by an angry, perhaps dangerous child? What if the mother, more mature now, has a family she has protected from her own past?

And what of a young woman who finds herself pregnant in Oregon? In the past, she could give life to her child, yet close the door tightly on her own hurt. Knowing that the law forever props the door to her past ajar, will she be less likely to choose adoption over abortion?

Adoption laws are remnants of another era – when only “bad” girls got pregnant and were discreetly sent away until the child was born and “given away.” The town might have whispered, but nothing was ever said. Those laws need to be humanely amended, but the initiative process and its simplistic reduction of a sensitive issue is not the way to go. Wise legislation – and a determined effort to lessen the heartbreak for everyone involved – is.

Follow Bastard Nation

Comment on this Article:







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!