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February 24, 1999 News No Comments

Adoptees’ campaign for the right to their birth records

Although I am 44 years old, it no longer surprises me to see myself referred to as a “child” or to have a cutesy-pie baby graphic accompanying an editorial on the right of adult adoptees to access the documents recording their own births (“Fight over adoption secrecy,” Feb. 22). The idea that adult adoptees are perpetual children is one that is promulgated over and over again by the mass media, which ought to know better.

These sorts of demeaning representations are part of the reason I joined Bastard Nation two years ago. It did surprise me to see the author imply that my organization is somehow “outing their own mothers.” This is both inaccurate and insulting.

Bastard Nation’s mission is narrow and very public. We stand for the right of every person to access the documents recording his or her own birth. We also stand for the dignity of adult adoptees. I can think of no better reason for our continued existence and activism than editorials such as yours, which describe adult adoptees as “dangerous” and “angry” children.

We do not “exist on the Internet.” Adult adoptees are everywhere. You probably have some on your editorial staff or in your newsroom.

Ron Morgan
Executive Committee
Bastard Nation
San Francisco


The editorial headlining that birth parents are “elders” who need “privacy” from children relinquished to adoption is a shrill, hysterical fantasy. The reality is that many of the elders in adoption today are the middle-aged and older adoptees who seek to pass along genealogical and medical information to their own children and grandchildren before they die.

Adult adoptees are neither children nor vengeful psychopaths in an alliance with their mothers’ rapists. Your tale of horror and fear is the latest and most extreme in the ongoing abrogation of the rights of citizens who are forbidden from seeing their own birth certificates through no fault of their own but as a result of archaic laws that have existed in California since 1935.

Janine Baer
El Cerrito


It would be one thing if adoptees did not know that they were adopted. But once they know, the mind takes over.

I am a 39-year-old male adoptee. I have known since I was 6 that I was adopted. Why is it, you may ask, that I’ve waited this long to begin a search?

Basically, I did not wish to hurt or offend my adoptive parents, whom I love dearly. My adoptive mother has passed on. It’s been over five years now, and my adoptive father has encouraged me “to find out who I am.”

I put my poor adoptive parents through hell all the way through my teenage years and beyond. I was searching for answers in all the wrong places, and in all the wrong ways. This is directly related to my adoption, or the feeling of abandonment that comes with it.

Should adoptees have to go through their entire lives in this detached and uncertain way?

Granted birth parents have rights, and in all actuality they have done us adoptees a favor by choosing life. I thank the Lord and my birth mother on a regular basis for giving me life.

But unless there are circumstances surrounding the adoption that warrant closed records, such as rape or incest, records should be made available to responsible adult adoptees.

After all, as adults, aren’t we supposed to be held accountable for our actions? And parents are held accountable for their children’s actions. Why should birth parents be exempt from this common rule or law of civilization?

Are you aware of how expensive it is to have a search performed? Why should we be exploited by some search organization when the information could be made available for virtually nothing?

Once we know that we are adopted, we will search. It is only a matter of how — through legal or illegal means. Haven’t we, as adoptees, been put through enough already? It must end somewhere. Open records now!

David L. Blatter
Vacaville


I am one in thousands: an adoptee who searched for the right to know about my heritage.

I found it along with the potential for breast cancer, heart failure and various other cancers. I am not sad that I found this out. I am happy that I have the armament to control and now fight these things head on.

My life along with the lives of other adoptees is affected by such things as medical records. Can you deny this right to a non-adoptee?

We as children are ridiculed by our peers. Such things as, “You weren’t wanted,” and the infamous, “Now I know why you’re acting so strangely.”

My 23-year struggle searching and finding a way to come to grips with a society that would cast out a child for something she had absolutely no control over came to an end when I found my family. Honesty among the members of the family about the wants and needs of each individual made the reunion a bit more comfortable than what was originally expected.

In finding my heritage I found 12 brothers and sisters. All are individuals and special in their own ways. My birth mother is kind and very compassionate. My birth father is deceased. I am still not completely in contact with everyone and that is OK. My effect on their lives is based on their needs too.

Debora Kyllar
San Jose


I am a birth mother who was raped. The stigma of unwed pregnancy in 1969 prevented my family or social services from helping me keep my baby. Relinquishment was not my first choice.

After 19 long years I found my daughter. It was important to me that she know how much I love her and have thought about her over the years, and I believed it was her right to know the truth.

The adoption reform movement in this country has struggled since the 1950s to shed light on the real issues and lifelong process of adoption for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents. The amended birth certificate of adoptees is one of the first lies in every adoption. This legal document declares the adoptive parents gave birth to the child.

Measure 58 in Oregon takes a complicated issue and simplifies it by giving back to adult adoptees a basic human right — to their birth heritage. I know of several adult adoptees who are honest citizens, married with children, and who fought for their country in war and cannot get passports because they cannot produce their birth certificates.

And there are plenty of birth mothers like me who love their children and would welcome them into their lives. It is time for human rights to triumph over fear.

Sheila Ganz
San Francisco


Measure 58 is not about search and reunion. Adoptees and birth parents are already doing that without open records. It is about restoring rights to adult adoptees by allowing them to obtain their original birth certificates.

Promoting anything but open records on demand for adult adoptees is promoting discrimination, fear and shame.

Truth and honesty will always prevail over secrets and lies. This is as it should be.

Not very complicated, really.

Linda Elvin
San Jose

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Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Indiana Open Access

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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.

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