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Activism- Legislative- Ohio- Today’s Health Committee Hearing on Sub HB7

Today was yet another hearing in Ohio by the Health Committee on the substitute HB7, labeled LSC 127 0671-3. (*A* pdf of which can be found here 127_LB_0671_3.pdf, although it may differ from the current version of the bill. You can at least begin to get a feel for the strike outs pertaining to our records access. As well as a more general feel for the bill.)

Despite the ongoing grassroots campaign of letters, phone calls, e-mails, and submitted testimony, from adoptees and other supporters, it appears the committee may have decided to leave the substitute bill “as is”. Which is to say, it takes the original HB7 that had adoptee access to our own records included, and then guts those portions of the bill, thus actively stripping the access that would have been returned to us.

As I’ve so often said, when it comes to adoption, we are the experts, we ARE adoption.

We constantly hear the refrain “for the sake of the children” well, we as adult Bastards were those one time children. We know what’s best for us.

It’s time State legislators put their legislation where their noise is.

To genuinely “care” about children in adoption means to also care about us as we reach adulthood, and to give us the tools we need to conduct our lives as any other citizen would, not enduring lifelong hindering by unnecessary State interference and records confiscation.

Our personal information has been transformed from something originally held and protected for us, to be returned to us as we reach adulthood, into perpetually State held dossiers, records locked away from the very people they pertain to, such that the State knows more about me in some ways, personal and intimate than I do about myself.

Worse, the State as part of records ‘modernization’ can outsource my authentic records to a data-entry firm oversees where Jayani Q. Typist can read about me, while I myself am prohibited from so much as seeing my own authentic birthday. For all the endless noise about ‘privacy’ in relation to adoption, the simple fact remains, we as Bastards apparently ‘aren’t deemed worthy’.

As for promises in adoption? Some of us were promised the day we turned 18 we could head down to the courthouse and get a copy of our original records, unfortunately that too was a promise made without the force of law behind it to ensure such was ever a genuine possibility.

The Buckeyes for Equal Access testimony on the bill shows that even the architect of the 1964 law that sealed Ohio adoption records, William Norris, understood that it was a disaster and went much too far. He himself testified against it, in a failed attempt at stripping his mistake back out of the Ohio code.

I quote the BEA testimony:

This is especially well documented in Ohio. William Norris, author of the 1964 law, later worked to undo it. Several years ago he testified before the House Human Resource Committee in favor of HB 457, that would restore access:

In doing what I did on this 1960s legislation, I was unable to see the impact this would have on my adopted children when they became adults. Subsequent events have taught me that we went too far. While it was appropriate for the 1964 law to foreclose access to adoptees’ birth records maintained by the Department of Health as far as the general public was concerned, I now recognize that closing those birth records to adoptees whose adoptions were finalized after January 1, 1964 was a grave mistake. This has resulted in unnecessary discrimination by denying to a special group of citizens the right to have access to their original birth certificates.

It is now obvious to me that the 1964 legislation produced an absurd anomaly in Ohio, and it is painful to reflect on the fact that these changes in the law were made in the belief that they were in the best interests of the entire adoptive process. …The 1964 law has not worked out in the way it was originally intended and it should be changed by the passage of a new law such as HB 457. (5)

Representatives had before them an opportunity (not exactly a great one, as the rest of substitute HB7 gets pretty ugly, but an opportunity none-the-less) to end the secrets, lies, and false promises made year after year. Instead it appears they are choosing to maintain the system of dual systems- one for ‘normal’ Buckeyes, and a separate system of locked away secrets for those of us adopted. ‘Sealed for my protection’- how thoughtful.

Apparently adoption needs protection from adoptees, for the ‘sake of the children’ (or the adoption industry and its often dirty hands.) This is lunacy, let me assure you the reader, speaking as an adoption expert myself, it does not serve our best interests.

Leaving the substitute bill “as is,” i.e. without records access, is not a passive stance. It is to support a bill that once had access in it, only to have it struck out and eradicated in the substitute bill. This is an ACTIVE erasure of adoptee right to equal treatment under Ohio law.

Rather than continuing to buttress the existing (and failed) status quo, which fails adoptees daily, legislators need to support adoptees, step up to leadership, and do what’s right. Clean out the mistake, (clearly recognized as a “grave mistake” by the very author of the law itself,) restore equity and fairness.

If legislators only want to ‘support adoption’ when we the adoptees are too young to speak on our own behalf/protect our own interests, then it’s long since time we as adult adoptees began to call it like we see it. Legislators who thwart adoptee equality are anti-adoption.

It is not ‘pro-adoption’ to increase marketing of adoption to teens as HB7 will. Adoption should be a last resort, not marketed as some way to ‘make the problem all go away, just like Juno.’

To bemoan the small number of infants available for adoption is to step outside the ‘what’s right for the child and the original parents’ models and into only seeing adoption through the eyes of those seeking to adopt, those who over and over again find a shortage of the ‘right kinds’ of kids available to them. It is buyer centric adoption, not need-based adoption.

Adoption must always ultimately serve to help the child who needs a home, not the home that desperately wants a child.

That desperation leads to market demand, which leads to the creation of an industry to fill and profit off that demand, which leads to marketing to increase supply, which in turn not only works to fulfill demand, it also serves to increase profits of the intermediaries. That hamster wheel of a system has lost all sight of what adoption needs to be. It creates all manner of other outcomes and financial gyrations, but ultimately means a child for those demanding one.

That is an altogether different process from a child who needs a home.

Children who need homes, “waiting children” don’t need marketing to pregnant teenage girls.

“Child-Centered Adoption” doesn’t need to market to pregnant teenage girls.

Only those demanding a child need marketing to pregnant teenage girls.

Need-based adoption is genuinely centered on the needs of the adoptees themselves, both in childhood and adulthood.

So increasing adoption marketing to teens as LSC 127 0671-3 does, right down to turning social workers into adoption marketeers is the opposite of need-based adoption, it is the opposite of “child-centered” adoption, it is instead, a legislative expression of demand-driven adoption. As the adoption market demands infants, preferably provided by womyn who are young, healthy, and not swimming in competent legal counsel.

LSC 127 0671-3 writes the genuine need for equity of real adoptees out of the bill and writes in marketing, designed to only support market driven adoption, not need based adoption and adoptees themselves. It is an anti-adoptee bill, worse, in the primary place it addresses the needs of “waiting children”, it puts their needs and interests into the hands of those same marketers and agencies, not into the hands of the experienced experts, adoptees themselves, (see below as I address the “child centered recruitment task force,” a term that I as an adoptee am simply incapable of saying with a straight face.)

All such marketing to vulnerable populations does is attempt to increase the pool of children available to the adoption process. Children who will eventually grow up only to find themselves treated unequally by the State. Yet another new generation of adoptees trapped behind the walls constructed by the Ohio sealed records system. The system that was supposedly designed to help us, in our adulthood is failing us.

How can LSC 127 0671-3 actively work to even make more kids in needs of homes, when the Ohio legislature hasn’t even cleaned up the mess they’ve made for those already in adoption? It’s unconscionable. But the answer is simple, the legislation is driven by those demanding more children, not driven by those who were at one time adopted children or the genuine needs of children currently awaiting homes.

The remedy for a mistake is not to inflict that same mistake on a greater number of people. The only real answer is to clean up the mistake.

Shoving what has shown to fail in terms of pregnancy prevention, so called “abstinence education”, into health programs adopted by the State Board of Education as LSC 127 0671-3 requires only continues the trajectory of ensuring that not only will girls continue to get pregnant, but that there will be plenty of adoption marketing opportunities matched to her.

LSC 127 0671-3 continues these patterns of failure. It fails to emphasize genuine pregnancy prevention, thus in absolute effect, it only serves to increase the numbers of children potentially entering the adoption system, while simultaneously failing adoptees ourselves, our equality and our fundamental knowledge of the historical realities of our own lives.

The bill goes further still, creating an perversely named “child-centered recruitment task force” made up of the (Ohio) Director of Job and Family Services, adoption professionals, and at least one professional from a public children services agency, private noncustodial agency, and private child placing agency for the purposes of creating a “Uniform Child-Centered Recruitment Model” geared towards children already in custody but with no adoptive family identified for them yet.

Hint- any task force made up of adoption professionals seeking to recruit more adoptive parents, i.e. going to find new and better ways of marketing children is NOT child centered.

This is a clean up task force, a group formed to create a document for those placing children to deal with the ‘surplus’ kids, the ones available for adoption that to date no one has wanted to take home. Essentially, here’s how they intend to deal with the leftovers. (Yes, we’re talking genuinely “waiting kids”, all while the endless march of infant adoption demand goes on unabated, both domestically and internationally.)

While the idea of finding solid homes for waiting kids is not intrinsically wrong, the bottom line is this is being done ‘for the sake of the children’ without listening directly to the experiences of the kids and former kids who have been in that very situation. Once again, it’s industry professionals being granted the guise of “child centered” by the State.

Our voices and needs are being cut out of the process, while false labels like “child-centered” are being entrusted to agencies, so that they may ‘speak on our behalf’ as we ourselves remain either voiceless, or voices falling on deaf ears.

The only way to remedy this failure is to once again, let the adoption experts speak. Listen to those who have been those kids, listen to adoptees. The last thing we need is yet another “child centered task force” that insists it knows what’s best for us without listening to us.

It’s long past time to end these systematic failures and instead pull out what’s broken. LSC 127 0671-3 is an anti-adoptee piece of legislation. It needs to be replaced with legislation that responds to the genuine needs of adoptees- of all ages.

Stop failing adoptees.

Stop defining adoption in terms of what the market demands.

Listen and lead instead.

2 Responses to “Activism- Legislative- Ohio- Today’s Health Committee Hearing on Sub HB7”

  1. Linda Webber Says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth.The adoption industry will use whoever they need to use to make money! I and others Mothers of adoption loss have asked for proof that we were promised confidentiality when we lost our children.No one has been able to provide it and the reason is simple .’We never were promised nor did we ask for it.The adoption industry does not care about us Mothers or our children.The industry will continue to support closed records so that their paying clients can still try and convince themselves that the child they bought is the same “as if’ they had given birth to them’ To maintain that delusion means that the natural family must be at the very least denied if not distroyed.. I wrote an article concerning “The infant adoption awareness Act in 2,004 and the governments role in their collusion with the adoption – 36k

  2. Triona Guidry Says:

    I have quoted your post on my blog, because I feel this information is vital. The adoption industry harnesses infant adoption as a moneymaker, then sneaks around providing “post-adoption services” to gather the very information they are concealing! It is such a blatant scam, but the moneymakers are as good as Microsoft at selling shit as shinola.

    Adoption “professionals” are not adoption experts. The experts are those of us who live with adoption as a fact of our existence, whether we be first mothers or adoptees or anyone else affected by this crazy scheme concocted to put a pleasant face on trafficking children.

    We will not remain silent while we continue to suffer atrocities in the name of adoption.

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