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Setting the Record Straight: Allies, Colonizers, and Bastard Nation’s Mission by Shea Grimm

January 17, 2017 News No Comments

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The following is written by Shea Grimm and posted on  Bastard Nation’s Social Facebook page on January 14, 2017. It is re-posted here with Shea’s permission as a blog and is  permanently archived on Bastard Bytes page.

There have been two events in AdoptionLand recently that have sparked another round of BN bashing from the usual suspects. The celebrations surrounding the implementation of the anti-adoptee, redaction NJ bill, and the push by Sandy Musser to ask for a presidential pardon of her multiple convictions for wire fraud and theft.another round of BN bashing from the usual suspects. The celebrations surrounding the implementation of the anti-adoptee, redaction NJ bill, and the push by Sandy Musser to ask for a presidential pardon of her multiple convictions for wire fraud and theft.

We have some new members. And many of you may have run across false and/or inflammatory comments made on other people’s Facebook pages or groups concerning BN and the issues, so it’s time again to set the record straight on some issues.

1. Bastard Nation is adoptee led. But we have always had members and supporters who are birth parents and adoptive parents. In fact we have Executive Committee members who are birth parents and adoptive parents. We welcome allies. But there is a difference between being an ally and being a colonizer, and that is something that certain very loud, rude, and ignorant people in the adoption reform movement repeatedly fail to understand.

Just yesterday, in ignorant, racially charged language, a certain birthmother was making public comments about how “Blacks” would never complain about “non-Blacks” marching with them. In fact, whether it was the civil rights movement, the current BLM movement, the American Indian Movement, the Standing Rock protestors or others, these communities have repeatedly pushed back against self-appointed allies, who claim to make common cause but then attempt to take over or subvert or criticize these movements.

Here is an excellent article out of the indigenous community that explains what happens when self proclaimed allies attempt to take over movements for their own personal profit and gain.

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Here is one of the most important takeaways from this article.

“Self-asserted allies may even have anti-oppression principles and values as window dressing… They are keen to posture, but their actions are inconsistent with their assertions. Meaningful alliances aren’t imposed, they are consented upon. The self-proclaimed allies have no intention to abolish the entitlement that compelled them to impose their relationship upon those they claim to ally with.”

The people that have spent years bashing BN for allegedly rejecting allies are in fact colonizers who want to impose their will – namely, veto and redaction legislation – on adoptees. That is not allyship. We do not want to work with you. We are not a community. Our values and goals do not align. You are not our allies. We do not consent to you. Allies serve to support others in their goals, they do not seek to impose theirs on others.

We are not “hurt”, we do not hate birth mothers, we are not angry about our adoptions. We are angry about laws that continue to violate our rights to due process and the equal protection of the law, including those like the one in NJ which some self proclaimed allies of adoptee rights are taking victory laps for. We stand with the 550 adoptees who will receive defaced original birth records and the redacted and vetoed in every other deform state.

2. Our criticism of grifters like Sandy Musser does not mean that we hate birthmothers or don’t welcome allies. Sandy Musser is not the patron saint of birthmothers. There are many birth mothers who loathe Sandy Musser and do not support her petition for a Presidential pardon, nor her and her supporters absurd and insulting comparisons of her to Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony. No, Sandy Musser was not simply doing what all other searchers were doing at the time. No, she did not go to prison for making reunions happen. She went to prison because while collecting upwards of a million dollars from adoptees and birth parents, she engaged in federal crimes.

Many of us who founded Bastard Nation performed searches throughout the 1990s. In fact, BN started a nonprofit organization called TIES for the sole purpose of finding the birthparents or adoptees or siblings of the terminally ill. Led by Bastards Mary Hunt Peret and Denise Fuller Castellucci among others, and despite the obviously time sensitive nature of these searches, this group repeatedly successfully searched and found without charge and without breaking any laws.

In the mid 1990s, I wrote and distributed – free of charge – the first free search guide published on the internet. I also had one if, if not the, first search related website on the Internet called An Adoptee’s Right To Know, distributing free search resources. These resources detailed how to successfully search and find, something I had been doing for free for others for years. Never once did I have to break any laws, nor did any of the other searchers I knew. In the 1990s, Jayne Askin also published an excellent Search handbook which also detailed successful search methods. None of which violated the law.

Sandy Musser was not engaged in civil disobedience. She is no Rosa Parks. She was nowhere to be seen when we successfully opened records in Oregon, Hawaii, Alabama, Rhode Island. She ran a successful for-profit search organization and chose to take shortcuts involving federal crimes which she acknowledged she knew were crimes while she was doing them. And then she attempted to profit off of her convictions by writing a book, a book she continues to hawk today, a book which, incidentally, completely contradicts the substantial legal record in this case which includes testimony against her by her former colleague and co-defendant as well as former clients, audio recordings of her, and an undercover operation.

3. Bastard Nation will never, ever support veto or redaction laws. We have made that clear since the day the organization was formed and we have never wavered. We are an adoptee rights organization. Despite what ever terms deformers slap on to their groups or bills, veto and redaction legislation is not adoptee rights. Such laws in fact newly create birth parent rights that violate the constitutional and human rights of adoptees.

It continues to baffle us that others repeatedly attack us for remaining true to our founding principles. But that shouldn’t surprise us because the people doing the attacking don’t seem to have any principles at all.

Putting aside the anti-adoptee nature of those bills, from a purely pragmatic perspective, we do not agree with those who claim that veto and redaction laws reflect an incremental approach through which we will ultimately obtain unconditional open records. History does not support that theory.

4. We also do not support using open records legislation to further the goals of search and reunion. Many of us are searchers or support them, but that is different from our legislative activism on behalf of adoptee rights. Particularly now with the advent of DNA, there is no reason search and reunionists should be throwing adoptee rights under the bus by supporting and pursuing veto legislation in the name of reunions for most. In fact, open records are one of the least effective search tools available now, especially as to birth father searches. Search and reunionists should spend their time learning about how DNA works, focusing on genealogy activism, keeping records like birth indices open, and other projects which many of us ALSO do in addition to our legislative activism work. But stop conflating the two.

5. Yes, progress has been slow. And if anything, given the current political climate, and the disastrous bills in NJ, OH and others, we expect an even greater slowdown in the progress of adoptee rights legislation in the next few years. Some states we had been monitoring and considered “ripe” experienced significant changes during the 2016 elections that have changed our minds. We understand the frustration in the true adoptee rights community. But far from helping things, those who rush into states without knowing what they’re doing or without a clear intent of keeping bills clean or walking away, only set us back decades. If you won’t stop screwing things up, we’re not going to stop calling you out for it. You are not our allies. You are as much our enemies as the NCFA was back in the day.

6. We have an extensive network of legislative liaisons and local state groups. We offer legislative training to our legislative liaisons. We have model legislation for many states. We have identified and continue to develop legislative allies and potential sponsors in several state legislatures. We monitor most states every day of every legislative session for adoptee related bills. We are the only national organization in the country that only works for and supports adoptee rights legislation. We are the only national organization to have successfully passed unconditional open records laws – and more than once. We know what we’re doing, and we are, out of necessity, patient. Our effectiveness and our deliberateness attract a lot of haters and screeching and hand wringing. Feel free to correct the record wherever and whenever you see the need, but you can feel confident that we are professionals who continue to put adoptee rights first and work every day toward that goal, and we’ve got your back.

Bastard Nation Leaves No One Behind.

Shea GrimmShea Grimm is a lawyer and reunited adoptee of mixed Native ancestry currently living in Hawai’i.  She is a co-founder of Bastard Nation.

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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.

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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..

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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

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Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Missouri Open

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Proud Bastard Nation Partner: Equal Access Oklahoma

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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.