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Today, voting opened on Pound Pup Legacy’s Seventh Annual Demons of Adoption Awards

Each year, Pound Pup Legacy holds their annual Demons of Adoption Awards. This year’s ballot can be found here.

In the nomination process in the run up to the actual ballot, I wrote about my nominees and reasoning behind such:

“Others have already made these nominations, but I wanted to write to them specifically as the full ramifications of their actions this year haven’t been elaborated on here from quite the angle I wanted to cover.

For me, this year’s nominees really come down to Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Roberts along with everyone, from the marketers, to the agency, the lawyers, and the adoptive couple involved in Veronica’s and the other cases slowly coming to light.

I’ve been writing about Nightlight, as but one example, since 2006, but they along with others in this industry have been unleashed in new and horrific ways this year by the Supreme Court’s decision.

While all who have been part of this process, including the other Justices who supported this outcome are among those I consider part of this nomination, both Justices Thomas and Roberts stand out for their conflict of interest, their refusal to recuse themselves, and their cynical use of the high court towards this evisceration of ICWA. The ramifications of this decision for all First Nations families, far beyond the details of Veronica’s case itself represents almost sea change in terms of how the United States stands in relation to Native kids and families.

ICWA, in 1978 represented an initial acknowledgement of the wrongdoing in how the U.S. had essentially strip mined Native communities for their children, as if plundering any other “natural resource.” ICWA was designed to prevent such abuses from taking place again. In practice, ICWA was far from strong enough, not going anywhere far enough, and still Native children were removed at rates that can only be described as an institutionalized form of cultural genocide, draining tribes of their kids one case at a time.

Instead of recognizing ICWA’s inadequacies and how Native children were still being commandeered, the high court shredded what little was left, leaving us in a landscape of a new open season on Tribes and their children.

Justices Roberts and Thomas due to their particular relation to adoption as an institution, that of adoptive parents had a special responsibility to step back from this case. (Roberts in particular, by focusing upon and embracing the eugenic concept of “blood quantum”/”blood politics” echoed the long and despicable racist history of how so many First Nations peoples have been objectified, dehumanized, and moved about as little more than livestock in this nation’s long sad history.)

Their refusal to acknowledge their conflict of interest makes them prime candidates as nominees as they represent at the highest court in the land the tragic situation Bastards and families face every day when we interact at all levels of the system with various clerks, judges, social workers, lawyers, etc.- those with all too often hidden or hidden in plain sight motivations due to their own status as a adopters.

We are reduced to begging for justice from those who have their own stake and interest due to their own position on the adoption pentagon.

Roberts and Thomas (along with the full chain of others involved in these cases) deserve this year’s nomination for two simple reasons:

1. The fact that two adoptive parents on the high court, who refused to recuse themselves, just opened the floodgates yet again to the next major boom of sovereign First Nations tribal peoples having their children sold off one by one by an industry desperate for new sources of children.

& 2. They personify the conflicts of interest inherent to the system itself that all of us must turn to, and how their presence, and the all too often hidden presence of such conflicts subverts the ability to receive an unbiased hearing at so many levels for all of us.

The hollowing out of ICWA, far beyond any specific case this year is one of the most important places to place attention, because what happened to Veronica is but the beginning. The roles of individuals in how that decision came to be, and their inherent conflicts of interest speaks t the industry and justice system as a whole, and that too, deserves tremendous attention.”

You can read other nominations and people’s reasons for nominating them here on the nomination page and comment thread.

“Adopted or Abducted?” an initial set of shall we say highly critical impressions

So Dan Rather and HD.net ran Adopted or Abducted? this evening.

Completely wrong framing from the get go, seeing as to how the very title posits an “either/or” false bifrication rather than ‘in so many cases, globally, history and experience teaches us they are completely synonymous.’

To add insult to injury, the show’s website is now linking rebuttals by the the very organizations responsible for these crimes, Catholic Charities, Crittenton Foundation, Salavating, errr Salvation Army, and the National Association of Social Workers.

No statements from any Mothers’ organization nor any Bastard organization are included, though apparently they were not even approached.

I grew up watching Walter Cronkite, and years later, Dan Rather anchor the CBS evening news. Many important stories of the day first came to me through his reporting, years before he came to anchor. In the end, CBS’s cowardly and purely political removal of Rather was a pathetic crumbling of whatever journalistic integrity they might have had left.

His eventual move to HDnet was something I watched from early on.

Yet when it comes to adoption, no one gets the story right.

Despite some shining moments of bringing truths through the footage to an American audience that they have likely never heard or even imagined before, the piece ultimately fails, not only in its final form, but also in the missed opportunity it represents- the same missed opportunity seemingly every piece of American media that touches it misses.

People asked my initial impressions upon watching it. These are multi-part posts I’ve stitched back together that I scrawled (typos and all) on facebook tonight.

(part I)

1. anything that starts from the premise that these things happened in the past and are not current is a problem, is continuing the mythos, and contributes more to how this ’story’ cannot punch through than what good it does.

2. the important footage for the most part got left on the cutting room floor- but the places where the history told in first person voice by those who live it is important documentation, many of these womyn won’t be around all that much longer.

3. if over and over again, the question is raised as to why this happened, and person after person whose footage actually made it into the final cut talk about the ‘best intentions’ or ‘cultural expectations of the time’ or ’shame’ etc AND never get through to the direct financial benefit to individuals and institutions in the course of the crimes being committed, viewers are left with the impression that there was no motivation, just mistaken actions done in accord with the ‘best practices’ of the time- this despite yes the admissions of systematic document falsification and tampering (as but one example).

4. important though it was to have Rickie Solinger and others addressing some of the history, Rickie’s entire point of “wake up little Suzie” was the that the system was bifricated by race, and saleability of resultant product/children. NONE of that was addressed in the piece, leaving the impression that either ALL womyn were treated the same way in such, or that, from the pictures used anyway, all womyn were white and that african american womyn never entered anyone’s mind in relation to reproduction of the period, let alone adoption practices (’of the baby scoop era’) at all.

5. Ann Fesler is an adopted person (who has her own inner turmoil about such and has built a career off such) who has co-opted the voices and histories of mothers (and again built a career off such) desperate and grateful to have anyone willing to listen/to tell their stories. She is once again, speaking FOR those at another point on the adoption pentagon (and again speaking more generally, triad language was the only framework here, even as the show spoke to both the role of agencies- particularly relgiously motivated agencies and services) and the state. Ultimately, no adoptee can speak in place of mothers about what mothers endured, the fact that Rather turned to her to speak on behalf of that other point on the pentagon re-solidifies her co-opted role.

6. The initial American segment did a fairly good job apart from some of the historical tangles and motivation tangles of covering wage homes (how womyn were treated as house slaves) how maternity camps were as one surviving mother put it essentially to her view “concentration camps” wherein womyn had no control over their circumstances or lives, no support and nothing but coercion pushing them toward adoption as the sole possible outcome of their pregnancies.

7. to the show’s credit, it did name names, early and often when it came to what institutions womyn were imprisoned within and who did this to them. BUT again, it was almost always framed as all being in the past, that 50’s- early 70’s period- which is utter crap.

8. That motherfucker search-leech Troy Dunn. See my point further below.

‎(part II)

9. Rather than focusing in tightly on some of the American crimes, they decided to run with the headlines and go to the Australian “apology” segment. I’ve already been highly critical of the “apologies” and how such are being utilized as stand ins for actual criminal prosecutions and how many of the Australian womyn who brought the evidence forward reject the “apologies” as placating pablum. None of that was addressed.

10. While they traveled the globe to explore the Australian evidence, they did a poor job of telling the story at anything other than the most superficial level, AND importantly, failed to make the connections. What happened in Australia happened out of many of the same U.S. organizations and tactical honing experiments run both here and a number of other countries globally, both during the same period and after. None of the connections were made, and both the US and Australia were treated almost as if in isolation to one another.

11. They did do a good job of presenting pieces of the evidence and testimony concerning womyn being drugged, shackled during delivery, denied acccess to their children, signatures being forged, womyn being told their babies had died, and the eventual medical experimentation being done on Australian Bastards, leading to lifelong medical and fertility issues. There was no real discussion of how Bastards came to be used as human guinea pigs, but at least the fact of it having happened was presented to the American audience, which is likely new news to most Americans, and for that matter, many Bastards themselves.

12. This may have been back in the American segment, but as always happens, “open adoption” (the almost always legally unenforceable agency marketing tool was conflated in with ideas of open records in adoption. Noise about how almost all adoptions are open now (see, everything’s better now, we’re just talking about the bad old days in this, safely in some ‘past’!) was once again used to shut down any genuine discussion of where we sit now.

‎(part III)

Lots of time given over to a woman who was involved in American adoptions on the professional end. Her agency and religious affiliation were intentionally obscured.

13. First let me point out, this took time away from the voices of the directly affected, and served as a ‘not exactly repentant’ voice on behalf of industry ‘of the time’. The industry has enough apologists fuck you very much, her being brought in not as some kind of ‘fair and balanced’ voice to weigh against the womyn, but rather as a ‘we did the best we could, given our knowledge of the period’ sort of a voice while reassuring to many was still a negation of the voices of the victims of the adoptions she herself was involved in. There was lots of noise about how after years of listening to Mothers and Bastards ‘practices have changed now’, without any follow up questions that would have required actual fluency in adoption- how ‘open adoptions’ are not a fix, they are a new and improved crowbar concocted by the industry to continue the process of strip mining womyn for their babies while giving the illusion of consent and control.

14. She did admit to the systematic paperwork fabrications and a number of the industry’s other tactics, and no doubt that was why Rather had her on in the first place, she was someone who was there at the time on the industry end committing these crimes. But in terms of her name, her agency, her responsibility, she remains unprosecuted, and not approached as a criminal, but rather as some brave, what, whistle-blower? Give me a fucking break.

I’m going to cut this a bit short, but let me at least touch on how search and reunion and emotional ‘healing’ was thrust front and center into the narrative and how such was intentionally conflated into the rest of the show which was more focused on the (criminal) actions and decades long cover up.

15. We couldn’t have a single show about adoption without the sobbing crying emotionally manipulative “we found your daughter” Troy Dunn bullshit being splattered all over it as some sick means for viewers to ‘empathize’ with and ‘humanize the consequences of,’ now could we? Nope.

16. Dunn is a mormon search-leech who sold off a portion of his business to, you guessed it, ancestry.com. Dunn, ancestry.com, and the LDS church are flat out, no friends to Bastards or our families. If you walk away from this with nothing else, understand that putting mormon Dunn alongside the voices of womyn who endured these crimes is precisely that equivalent of a Faux-”news” fair and balanced bullshit gambit. Every microsecond that mother-fucker (a term I use intentionally with great precision) is on the screen became a moment either leaving a womyn’s voice on the cutting room floor or cutting and negating the womyn on the screen’s voices.

17. Note that in the ‘we found your daughter’ segment with both long searching mother and Dunn on phones both in front of HDnet cameras, zero proof is EVER offered that his “match” is an actual genuine, biologically based match. Dunn and other search-leeches like him all too often (as he’s shown on his TV show repeatedly) resort to process of elimination “it must be a match” assumptions, sometimes leading to false ‘reunions’ for the cameras. Search-weasels all too often rely on selling desperate and separated individuals a “match” rather than providing anything verifiable, from the state or via a DNA match.

18. At this point, the show devolved into that all too usual “I found her” porn where the audience is vicariously treated to something both personal and private- yet being on camera through said phone call is all too often the ‘cost’ for mothers or family members to have Dunn’s “searches” provided free to them.

19. Just as the removal of children was a deeply private act done for ’societal benefit’ now reunification porn is offered up to the viewing audience in the quest for ratings, making what for at least many of us is a deeply private and personal thing into ratings fodder and reuniontainment for society’s voyeuristic couch potatoes. It’s another means by which we and our families are commodified and sold back, and others profit off us, be they the search-leech industry, or tv crews passing a mother’s tears off as ‘hard hitting investigative journalism’

20. Bottom line on segment 4, our lives are more than ratings fodder. The crimes we as classes of people have endured deserve more than 1 hour tv ‘educational/entertainment’ pieces. We deserve the ability to bring charges against those admitting guilt in these pieces, anything else is utilizing all this for set dressing and ratings.

Genuine investigative journalism does more than borrow other’s stories. When the shit is uncovered, real reporters and whistle-blowers once upon a time brought the shit to light. They didn’t hide to it protect the self confessed’s identities, nor utilize our tiny communities for their own purposes yet again.

We’ve been used enough, and we all deserve more.

(part IV)

‎21. Oh, and I left off the extra bonus, that only those who have either seen the show or endured a Dunn-”search” can appreciate-

Mothers and their efforts towards reunions ARE NOT SPACE SHUTTLES trying to find a correct approach for re-entry.

None of us “burn up” it we do it “wrong” according to Dunn’s notions of the script everyone’s supposed to follow.

That kind of false metaphor/objectification of all of us, Bastards, Mothers, families, is precisely what led to us being treated as objects/blocks the state and agencies could move at around and reorder at whim in the first place.

Blogging again, a personal post- surveilling the sewer, through new eyes

I haven’t written a post here since Nov of 2011 for a number of reasons.

I’ve needed the time.

Back on May 10th, 2010, the day before my birthday, I received a copy of my unamended original birth certificate.

Even the day prior, I had bemoaned the regressing state of Bastard rights, decried the “Faustian bargain of access for some at the direct expense of the rights of others”, and acknowledged the sad reality of my personal circumstance:

somewhere out there, (if she’s even still alive,) is a Mother who gave birth on Mother’s Day to a daughter who eventually disappeared into a sealed records adoption.

Finally holding that piece of paper after struggling for decades through four requests to the state, to receive it both changed and reaffirmed everything for me.

It was a very emotional experience, and came at a point when I had almost given up all hope of ever seeing it.

Obviously, it, and the aftermath thereof has also affected both my blogging and my voice here on the blog itself. I placed a brief  “update” at the bottom of my about page, and by and large spoke little to my personal circumstance, even as I threw myself into the work and NaBloPoMo-ed every day for two months straight in October and November of 2010.

I wasn’t ready or able to talk about it, in part, because within hours of finally holding my original birth certificate, I learned that my Mother was dead.

She had died at age 50 of late stage colon cancer, a little over two blocks away from the house I grew up in.

Neither of those first two requests succeeded, but two of the four were made while she was still alive.

My Father was left a blank line on the form.

I have no information about him at all.

There’s more, much more, but to me, some of it is simply personal/no one’s business by my own. That may be part of what is different about my blog.

Much of what I write here simply is not about me or about my feelings, or autobiographical bits and pieces. The blog is about adoption and the politics thereof.

But I have a voice here, and I come from a perspective, and as my circumstances have changed over time, it’s important to me to honestly share some of those changes with my readership in order that they may understand both my insights and biases.

Other parts of it, while yes, still some version of personal, also inform that voice and part of that politic. Some of it I may chose to write about, in time.

Being able to confirm my brief stint in foster care, and piecing together what appears to have been what today would be considered a border baby circumstance, born in a hospital, but apparently never taken to my mother’s home upon discharge are important aspects as well.

All of these changes obviously affect my voice here, and what little personal narative I have shared here to date.

Now, almost two years later, I’ve mourned and I’ve done some of what I’ve needed to do.

That has taken many forms, from visiting her grave to finally getting through to a colonoscopy, a medical procedure I had requested in light of my lack of a family medical history, only to initially be turned away precisely due to that lack of a family history.

First screenings should be done 10 years prior to a family member’s initial diagnosis, but of course, until all of this came about, I had no means of knowing. By the time I got through to the actual screening, I was years beyond that recommended initial date.

Fortunately, thus far, in terms of colon cancer at least, scary though this was,  I appear to be fine.

That said, I remain absolutely steadfast in my opposition to utilizing any demand for “family medical histories” as a tactic in the effort to restore Bastard rights.

As I’ve reiterated over and over again, here for example-

“Let’s be clear,  those  willing to sell out Class Bastard in their personal rush to (possibly) gain access to their own, (provided of course, they don’t find themselves on the receiving end of a contact veto, now repackaged as a “contact preference”- precisely the form of  “contact preference form” creep that again, I’ve warned about for years now) are not part of the genuine adoptee rights movement.

Their willingness to over and over again, attempt to ‘justify’ their hope that (some) records might be restored to their rightful owners by turning to tactics such as the insistence that ‘need for medical history’ as the basis of their call for legislative ….something, (rather than standing firm on the simple demand that equality alone is enough, that all of us must regain that right we once held) has in fact worsened the preexisting quagmire NJ’s adoptees ALREADY find themselves trapped within.

NJ-CARE and its allies through their support of this bill have worked to construct a new system that will compel mothers to turn their otherwise  legally protected personal medical histories over to the state.

As a longtime abortion and women’s reproductive health advocate myself, who understands that many of the modern origins of consent and consent forms as well as personal privacy and freedom from unwarranted governmental intrusion (rooted in Eisenstadt v. Baird, not Roe and Doe) I’m appalled at NJ-CARE’s support for yet FURTHER government intrusion into women’s genuine medical privacy rights.”

Perhaps, now more than ever, not despite my own medical experiences, but specifically due to them,  I remain absolutely committed to precisely that rejection of government schemes to compel family members to surrender their medical histories.

Rather than trying to build new forms of data collection with the government or its subcontractors set in the role of mediator, and thus preserving the sealed records system by building some pathetic substitute “work around” to objection handle Bastards’ lack of access, I continue to support nothing less than the complete elimination of the sealed records system itself.

Adopted people and our families must receive the same treatment under law as anyone else. No one must be compelled by the state to surrender their personal medical information, such can only be shared consensually. Removing the walling off barriers of the sealed records system that stand between Families and Bastards restores equality, and ensures that just like anyone else, we gain information or not as individual family members chose to divulge.

Ironically, that process of getting through to the colonoscopy led to a personal medical odyssey of sorts over much of the past year, bringing up several issues,  some of which may or may not be genetically based.

In terms of my ability to work, the most substantial issues affecting me in the day to day were rapidly growing cataracts, one in each eye, that made it impossible to read normally sized text.

Since January, I’ve been through two lens replacement surgeries, so in a very literal sense, I’m seeing through new eyes. Well, plastic implant lenses at least.

That perspective, and time away, much of it spent unable to even read a book, has given me time to contemplate the long view.

The big picture (as I’ve written shards of in the past) when it comes to adoption, isn’t pretty.

A great deal has also happened in my time of blog silence, be it the Australian “apology” I and others have harshly criticized as a pathetic substitute for criminal prosecutions, the role of the church in the Spanish babynapping resale schemes, the ongoing pathetic and damaging antics of the “do-something!” adoption deformers, or the endless headlines worth of dead Bastards, abused Bastards, and baby buying run amok.

My own resignation from Bastard Nation and grappling with the aftermath of such, how it effectively left me without any group as a Bastard political home has also been part of that long period of blog silence. It’s taken me time to get my head around that as well.

But as a GDI, a god-Damn-Independent, finding my footing after the initial shock and finding not only my voice rooted in these personal realities, but discovering my voice newly unencumbered by fear has also been  a part of this time of contemplation and personal regrouping.

Readers, in the past, I’ve carefully couched some of my criticism to the point where while it was certainly possible to see where I stood by the occasional post or by reading between the lines, there have been other points where I’ve either pointed across to other bloggers doing some of the heavy lifting (such as Wayward RADish) or to some extent, pulled my punches. In those latter moments, I’ve failed you.

I spoke recently with 73adoptee about some of my reasons why. Much of it for me, came down to not feeling fully at liberty to say what I needed to, not due to the fact that my adopters are still living, (that alone paralyzes many Bastards) but in that when a Bastard has no access to their paperwork and is reduced to begging for such from the state, the (unarticulated) constant threat of such being “lost” or destroyed, or otherwise fucked with can sometimes in moments of weakness, quiet the authentic Bastard voice.

Judges are every bit as capable of typing our names into google when our requests come before them as anyone else.

So long as we are reduced to needing something so basic that was confiscated from us, we are left in a position of vulnerability that others simply cannot comprehend.

For many Bastards, they get their paperwork and are placated, disappearing off into silence and their personal worlds of either angst or reunion blogging, devoid of any understanding of their class Bastard status. Oblivious to  how reunion naratives all too often devolve into nothing more than fretful, pathological torment-ridden personal whining, isolated from any broader political context or external consequence.

For me, gaining my original birth certificate unleashes me. It unleashes my voice. It leaves me free to speak freely, a luxury we left-behinds almost always die without.

A luxury non-Bastards can scarcely comprehend, let alone the ways by which we maim and muzzle ourselves out of that fear.

It also places upon me an even greater sense of responsibility as one unleashed by holding the paper itself, but whose access status remains to some degree in potential limbo, to speak out about the ways in which our authentic documentation is still held hostage and how that continues to silence and self maim so many.

So bottom line, I’m some version of back to blogging, on my own time frame, and if you found this a cynical, disgusted, seethingly furious blog, contemptuous of those hiding their crimes behind the artificially imposed sealed adoption records system, as well as the rotten to the core system itself, and equally contemptuous of those who in their genuinely damaging deformer efforts to “do something” about the predicament Bastards and our Families find themselves forced into result in nothing less than the creation of new and ‘innovative’ legislative catastrophes and black holes from which so many never escape, well, let’s just say you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The industry’s “National Adoption Day”- a day celebrating the loss of adoptees’ civil rights

crimescene

Sure, I could write a new post, with new examples torn from this year’s headlines, but honestly why bother?

I’ve said it all before.

See my post from last year- “National Adoption Day:” a celebration of sealed records & inequality” instead.

Along with this mass spectacle of kids being stripped of their civil rights and equality in Arizona, (a sealed records state):

100s of children adopted in Valley event

Except of course, by the time it was all said and done, a record 343 children were scheduled to be slammed through the adoption process in Maricopa County Superior Court over the course of 5 1/2 hours.

Of Earthquakes and Adoptions

Clearly in the wake of today’s earthquake felt up and down the east coast it’s time to revisit these two posts I did last year:

The Great Germantown, Maryland Earthquakes of ‘10, Think of the Children! (part 1)

and

The Great Germantown, Maryland Earthquakes of ‘10, Think of the Children! (part 2)

They comprise a work of parody (tragically rooted in genuine events) and re-imagining and re-contextualization exploring natural disaster zone adoptions; genuine human needs vs. adopter demand unleashed.

Reacting swiftly to the desperate need in the Maryland burbs, other states rapidly deployed their most important disaster relief asset, adoption agencies.

Back in the real world?

There are people dealing with the real aftermath of the quake.

Trust me, adoption is about the furthest thing from most people’s minds in light of such.

Adoption is absolutely a Feminist “issue”/an “issue” Feminists must face

Feminist

In response to a post at Feministe, Adoption as a Feminist Issue, I threw in my .02 worth:

(As there was a request to limit the number of links in replies, the version of the below on Feministe contains only 3 links, this represents a vastly expanded version with citations for my readership.)

I’ve actually been blogging about adoption from a feminist/humanrights/pro-reproductive autonomy perspective for a number of years now. There’s no question in my mind how it must be considered intrinsic to the broader feminist framework.

Additionally, it must be understood from a “class” perspective both in terms of the classes of women children are (often non-consentually) taken from and those they are granted to. Bastards likewise face legal discrimination as a class, not merely as individuals.

“Class” must also be understood in relation to adoption in terms of economic class. As I said on my about page, my blog

“…has roots in exploring adoption and how it is deeply entwined with many social factors, particularly poverty. Many real life “love children” who are later adopted, are not ‘given up’ for lack of love, but for lack of resources. Many of those mislabeled “orphans” are in fact made available to the adoption process as a byproduct of grinding poverty, both domestic and global.”

Post after post I’ve written chronicle the global adoption marketplace and the human rights abuses and crimes that are an inherent aspect of such. I invite readers to explore some of my posts tags such as “Ethiopia.”

I write as a Bastard and a feminist who has longtime involvement in the struggle for reproductive autonomy.

I’ve spent years documenting those who advocate the compulsory pregnancy stance and the ways in which anti-abortion movement and the religiously based (and at times forcible) adoption movement are more often than not often one and the same. Certainly the major adoption industry umbrella lobbying organizations in the DC area are rooted in such, just as most of their individual member agencies are.

For those who care about women and our lives, adoption ultimately must be viewed as a feminist issue, as it is so deeply entwined with questions of agency and autonomy both economic and biological.

Those distinctions become all the more clear when a careful study of adoption practices by American entities abroad is undertaken: from Australia to Ireland, Russia to Vietnam, Guatemala to Ethiopia pregnant women globally have been systematically strip mined for their offspring.

(Furthermore, with the rise of repro-tech, the virtually unregulated American marketplace offers the hope of offspring to anyone with enough cash in hand. )

In addition to well, my entire blog, as my Radical (”to the Root”) Feminism is the perspective every word written here comes from, readers may also want to shortcut directly to my “Feminism” tag for some of my most explicitly Feminist posts.

In all likelihood I’ll probably not write a more detailed response to Brigid’s questions in the original post, particularly due to the fact that I’ve already done a number of posts pertaining to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and Hague Convention (both of which were subverted intentionally by the American adoption industry) and the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights, here is but one of several examples.

These provide the existing legal framework for what children’s rights are already internationally recognized and what such could begin to mean, although both the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention documents provide key loopholes that exempt and divest adoptees from rights otherwise explicitly recognized for all other classes of (at the time) children.

A Bastard-centric and Feminist demand for all our human rights, must of necessity be broader.

Where do we (Mike and I) go from here?

Joanne Wolf Small asked:

So, where do you go from here?

The answer deserved a post of its own, though I’ll let Mike find his own voice in his own timing and post whatever he adds as a guest blog.


First of all, we settle back in here at home after the trip Mike and I were on when all this unfolded.

I’ve come home to both an office full of the work I had been doing on many states, including Rhode Island, and a home dotted with bits and pieces of our time with BN and  the friendships that have been central to that.

Grieving some of those losses is going to take some time.

Thereafter, or more likely as I go through that process, I’m faced with a multitude of decisions not only about the nature of this work, but about how/when/or even if I decide to work with others- individuals, groups, etc. again.

I don’t expect to have that ‘all figured out’ anytime soon.

I know that my work, and my writings here have had value, both personally and to others.

Part of how we go forward, whether I particularly enjoy dwelling on some of all this or not, still involves spending some time on what just happened with Bastard Nation and Rhode Island. I’ll touch on it here and later decide to what extent I want to write about such further.

Going forward is also going to mean a careful assessment of what was lost as part of that process of our separating ourselves from BN, and the role it was playing in the broader adoptionland ecosystem.

Bastard Nation was in many ways the only domestically based (inter)national adoptee rights group that was genuinely working on these issues from a human rights perspective.

When it endorsed the Rhode Island legislation, tragically, we view it as having joined the ranks of what Marley had termed “deformer” organizations. Such was not a ‘done deal’ until the Governor signed the bill into law, but at that point it was irreparable for me, personally.

As Mike pointed out on BN’s email list, even BN in the end, (again, to our perspective,) fundamentally left the human rights framework, rendering its tagline “The adoptee rights organization” a relic of the pre-Rhode Island bill era.

This left us with no organizational ‘voice’/no existing structure left to work within.

(And no, am I not in any way shape or form inclined to attempt to begin some form of new organization from scratch. In other fields I’ve both worked with and even co-founded such once upon a not so very long ago. But the world is very different now. I’m even less inclined to attempt such anywhere near  the adoption field.)

For the moment at least, the extent to which I decide to continue to work in the realm of Bastard civil/human/identity rights will be, just as I’ve always been, as a GDI, or “god-damned-independent.”

BN was Mike and my idealogical home politically in relation to Bastard rights. It was formative to our thinking and gave political voice to much of what we already knew to be true.

To my view, BN itself organizationally (but also in through the voices and actions of a number of its members both current and former) moved away from many of the views originally expressed in the organizational core documents.

Part of the problem Mike and I faced was that we had had no reason to believe those original writings did not still hold true until we found out, well after the fact, that we were still holding them as core when others clearly did not.

In terms of various other organizations out there, both industry driven or deformers of various other stripes (or the merely completely incompetent,) none of them speak for us.

We are independent voices.

There may be some individual state organizations still attempting to hold the line, but at this point, I hesitate to personally endorse any of them, (all the more so in light of this recent example of how rhetoric can in the end mean nothing when it matters most.)

To that end, I’ve removed the links from my right hand sidebar section labeled “Activists Working for Adoptee Rights- State by State.”

Instead, I’ve added a new page tab to my header- “statement on working with other orgs/activism” and linked it in my sidebar as “BLC statement on working with other orgs/activism.”

Dealing with this aftermath in terms of my Blogroll and other links is an even more painful proposition, a set of decisions I’m not inclined to deal with in an immediate time frame.

At the moment, I’m still deciding what I want to say publicly and privately about our decisions to resign from BN.

Furthermore, I have no intention of merely providing fodder for those who already hate or reject BN and its positions and would wish to utilize anything we say as some means by which to build up their own ineffective and broken capitulating organizations steeped in Bastard-phobia. (American Adoption Congress, the National Council for Adoption, the Adoptee Rights Demonstration, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute/(Adam Pertman/Spence Chapin), the various CARE groups/or here, etc. among others.)

Mike and I were always simply, genuinely about achieving full Bastard human rights and ending the stigma, cruelties, and human rights violations that Bastards (and our families) endure under this existing adoption system.

We worked to support good legislation, and worked to fight back bad bills (and anything else) that would cause harm to class Bastard, our families, and our human rights.

The rest of this inter-organizational squabble about whose ‘approach’ or ‘language’ was ‘correct’ or who passes the most bills/who has the most states as notches in their bedpost, who was liked or disliked meant nothing to us.

None of this was about building a social group or any form of political tribalism to us, which is why in any number of circumstances across adoptionland I’ve spoken out for those left behind, regardless of the personal consequence.

We cared about effectiveness as measured against the goal of full Bastard human/civil/identity rights. That was why we were here in the first place, and it’s why I’m sitting here writing now.

So ‘where to from here?’

We do what we can to over and over again attempt to ‘go back for’ those left behind in Rhode Island and the other states like Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, etc.

As for the rest, we go the same place we’ve always gone: support unconditional Bastard rights for all, work against whatever and whomever stands between where we are now and where we need to be.

Only now, I do so without organizational or institutional voice, speaking ‘merely’ with the authentic voice of one of those directly affected when I do.

Any legislator, individual, or organization that sells us out, or stands as an obstacle to our rights is certainly “in bounds” for criticism.

As to how much Mike and I personally still have the stomach for such, well, that remains to be seen.

I have resigned my Bastard Nation membership

Today I resigned my Bastard Nation lifetime membership.

There were a number of reasons, but they all came down to BN’s “conditional endorsement” of the Rhode Island bill.

I cannot be a part of any organization willing to in any way shape or form to support legislation that erects new barriers for Bastards deemed  ”young.”

Rhode Island’s bill set the age of Original Birth Certificate access at 25- far above its age of consent (18.)

“Young” peoples’ human rights are not expendable.

To my reading, BN violated both its mission statement and existing policies to endorse the bill.

I personally objected to Marley, BN’s Executive Chair, throughout the process by which BN ultimately supported the bill. I did what I could to prevent BN’s support and failed.

It is now ALL our obligations to ‘go back for’ the human rights of Bastards in Rhode Island who were left behind by this legislation.

But I will be doing so separately from any of the organizations who supported this legislative abomination.

I am left feeling I did not leave Bastard Nation, so much as Bastard Nation left me, but more to the point, I feel BN left those under 25  in Rhode Island when they needed an “adoptee rights organization” most.

Missouri and Rhode Island both pass unclean bills

By way of just a brief post on two events of vast significance-

Missouri SB  351 and Rhode Island S 0478 SUBSTITUTE A have both been signed into law by their respective states’ Governors.

Personally, I view both as unclean bills, (others disagree with me about Rhode Island, viewing the age restriction as not “leaving anyone behind,” but this is my blog, my perspective, and I am gravely concerned about many aspects of what happened with this bill. (I’ll likely write more about this in the future.)

Rhode Island passed with an arbitrarily arrived at age restriction of 25, (down from an originally proposed 40!)  meaning for now at least, from here forward, Rhode Island Bastards will only gain access to their Original Birth Certifcates upon reaching age 25.

This represents carving out a whole new class of those Bastardized by the state, those above the age of majority, yet still not deemed ‘worthy’ or ‘responsible enough’ to handle the facts of their own birth. It creates a whole new form of quasi-adulthood for Bastards to contend with.

Ironic, in that one can enlist in the military and be considered ‘responsible enough’ to make decisions concerning one’s own potential death, yet ‘not ready yet’ to deal with seeing one’s own authentic birth certificate.

The bill continues the long tradition of the state treating Bastards as ‘irresponsible children’ well into adulthood.

As for the Missouri bill, speaking as a former Missouri resident myself, I worked against this bill, and kept the Bastard Nation testimony against the bill as an “action alert” in my sidebar.

It cannot in any way shape or form be considered an authentic adoptee rights bill.

New Jersey- Governor Christie gives S799/A1399 a conditional veto

Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed NJCare’s botched S799/A1399 bill, offering up his own set of recommendations that draw on both the disastrous NJ CARE bill and the NJ ACLU/Catholic Conference/Right to Life alternative bill. (Neither bill stood firm for authentic Bastard rights.)

Thus Governor Christie, in attempting to sew together bits and pieces from both bad bills offers up a Frankenstein’s monster of his own construction. In the Governor’s offered “substitute” he displays clearly just how deeply he fails to understand the core premises of Bastard equality, genuine protections for women’s authentic medical privacy, and respect for us and our families.

Read his substitute for yourself, and then compare it to everything I’ve written over the past several years about what a genuine adoptee rights bill for New Jersey would and would not entail.

His Substitute fails by every measure.

Moreover, it would create a legislative mess practically guaranteed to please no one, leading all factions right back to the drawing board and forcing them to begin this legislative epic all over again beginning next session. Far from “dealing with the issue” or “putting it to rest” the Governor’s substitute opens the road to nothing but further legislative struggle and potential lawsuits.

Those so set on “doing SOMETHING” (ANYTHING, it seems) rather than the right thing, merely open yet a next chapter in the battle for authentic adoptee rights, and sentence countless Bastards and our families to yet more years of unjust treatment.

There is nothing complicated or convoluted about authentic adoptee rights. I’ll spell it out in the simplest of terms yet again:

  • Bastards and our families used to enjoy enqual status under law to non-adopted New Jersey natives.
  • The state and various private interests then did us a terrible wrong by constructing a system of unequal treatment specifically set aside for class Bastard, the original documentation pertaining to our births (i.e our original birth certificates/ OBCs) and our families.
  • Now decades later, as states begin to readdress that injustice done to us, the only genuine goal behind adoptee rights legislation must be to restore what we once enjoyed, full equality to any other person born in that state, in this case, New Jersey.

Anything less is not justice.

Anything less simply perpetuates the systems of discrimination we have suffered under for decades now.

Furthermore,  any new efforts to, for example compel our mothers to divulge their otherwise legally protected private medical histories to the state in an ongoing effort to maintain dossiers on them, is merely further abuses heaped upon our familes under the false pretext of granting adopted people something no other person is entitled to.

What authentic adoptee rights advocates demand is extremely simple: we want the same rights and protections for ourselves and our families that any other person born in a state is granted. No special treatment, no special files, no mandated confidential intermediary systems run through adoption agencies, etc.

We expect nothing less than the same constitutionally protected right to freedom of association, and access to the authentic documentation pertaining to our births that the non-adopted currently enjoy.

In other words, we want what Governor Christie, for example already has.

Anything less simply perpetuates the structures of injustice and interference in our families personal lives that adoptees currently endure.

Anyone willing to settle for merely adding another chapter to these injustices, is clearly no friend to Bastards, our families, our our human rights.

The Governor’s “substitute” adds insult to injury, nothing more.


For more, see Bastardette’s New Jersey: What is a Conditional Veto? and ’stay tuned to her blog for her further analysis.