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ARD- Morning after media coverage , Afternoon Photo UPDATE

Well, so I’ve had multiple people tugging my sleeve asking me if I know anything about what happened with the Adoptee Rights Demonstration (ARD) yesterday. (I suppose that’s because ARD itself has left it’s last website update from June 30th on their front page and nothing further.)

These ‘tugs’ are nothing if not ironic as I’m no longer a part of ARD, per my resignation from it back in May.

But since it’s the day after and the ARD page isn’t linking to the coverage, I’ll link across to the two articles so far.

In other words, I suppose I’ve been reluctantly talked into doing what people apparently count on me to do. That said, though, I’ll likewise do what people also count on me to do, analysis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Let’s be clear from the outset, I was not there, I have no firsthand knowledge. I do have some reports, but I’ll focus on the media pieces currently available:

This New Orleans Times Picayune Article, poorly entitled Protesters seek to change laws sealing birth papers came out today, July 23rd.

It mentions “about 60 protesters” took part in the march from Lafayette Park to the Ernest N. Morial convention center.

The ‘adoptee sound bytes’ sounded like this:

For Galliand Adams, Louisiana’s law makes the search for her biological history “incredibly frustrating.”

“I have no idea who I am, and there’s just a big void there,” she said.

Fortunately, Michelle Edmunds was on hand and managed to get at least a bare bones explanation of what open records really are, that made it through into the article:

Other protesters said the laws amount to discrimination.

“This isn’t about searching and reunion. This is about our rights,” said Michelle Edmunds, who came from Canada to join the march.

Unfortunately, this is still pretty bare. I don’t lay such at Michelle’s doorstep, instead, I view it as a lack of educating the reporters on the issues over a period of time leading into the event. Poor articles such as this could have been avoided.

Naturally, to counterweight even such bare bones adoptee demands, the reporter used a quote from the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) (an industry lobby made up of member adoption agencies in Virginia). Their soundbyte, as always co-opting the authentic voice of mothers sounded like this:

“We’re not opposed to open adoption or open records. We’re concerned about the right of privacy for the birth mother,” said Rodney Huey, spokesman for the National Council for Adoption.

“A birth mother, for whatever reason, decided at one point to have her own confidential adoption, and that (confidentiality is) what she was guaranteed,” he said.

For NCFA, which was founded in part to maintain the sealed records system to say they’re not opposed to open records is shall we say, pretty darn interesting. Perhaps we should remind them of this soundbyte the next time we find them lobbying against our open records bills in the states.

In short, a pretty lousy piece. Which is clearly a result of a lack of familiarity with even the basics of what we’re talking about. Use of the term “birth papers” makes it clear, this is turf the reporter clearly hasn’t learned even the basic lingo of. Again, all of which could have been avoided with some work in the run up to the event.

Supposedly there is some photography that went with the article, but it appears not to have made it through to the online edition.

Secondly, perhaps ever so slightly more in keeping with the original history of what was then called the Adoptee Rights Day, the State based focus, Adoptees in New York held their own small event piggybacking on the N’awlins event. This was no doubt to draw attention to the NY bill, still stuck in committee for the third year running.

This was covered in a July 22nd article (yesterday) entitled An emotional call for change there is also video that goes with this piece.

The article explains that they met in the local library:

Local adoptees and birth mothers joined together in the genealogy section of the main library in Downtown Rochester this morning. It’s a place many of them have done research to find their birth parents.

Which then visually tells the audience this is about search and reunion, the article goes on to mention medical records as a possible justification for opening the records:

“It’s strictly to find out your heritage, any birth concerns you might have, any medical problems you feel, (or) if you want to know your ancestry,” said Jeff Hancock, 43, who found out he was adopted just 15 months ago.

Search, reunion, and medical history are all interpersonal issues that are chronologically second (for some people, for others they simply want their papers and will never search, never enter reunion, and never ask parents for information about their medical histories, which of course adoptees would only ever get if the parents consent) to the initial demand that state confiscation of our records must end.

I’ve written extensively about this here on my blog, but this post from June 7th in particular, ARD- Another from the “I hate being right” category- the ‘messaging’ disaster, went into how I was concerned these types of nonsequitor arguments would take center stage in ARD. Again I really hate being right.

This is what happens when adoptees do not have open records 101. They find target settings that undermine the core of the message, that this is ultimately about equality under law.

Medical records simply are not an open records argument. The sooner everyone learns that, is the sooner we can start doing the real work.

They both call it a civil rights issue, and then place themselves into a search venue. A garbled message at best.

In the end, the search and reunion meme wins out and becomes the focus of the article.

Speaking from a purely pragmatic standpoint, our arguments need to be based on both the legal and legislative realities. We’re not going to withstand legal challenges to open records legislation on “But I want to meet my Mommie!” You withstand legal challenges based on how we as a class of people are receiving inequitable treatment under law. We are singled out, and systems created to treat us thusly must be dismantled.

All of which points out how in many ways, serious educational work to get even adoptees on message needs to take place long before an ‘action’ phase is initiated. After all, how the hell are adoptees going to get the media around to what the landscape looks like and what language is appropriate when half the time adoptees themselves don’t even know?

In closing, I am the only one who finds it incredibly ironic that the only print media coverage available online yesterday was about an ARD related event in New York?

<Shakes head, and sighs.>




I finally got around to digging out the photos. You can find the Times Picayune’s photo gallery here.

Clearly my messaging disaster concerns about those Gladney-120th-anniversary-protest signs “State enforced genetic secrecy kills adoptees” were well founded. Sure enough, guess what was on hand.

Matthew Hinton / Times Picayune

So much for messaging.


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