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ACTION ALERT- Illinois HB 5428 is *NOT* an open records/adoptee rights bill- make calls NOW!

Very quick little update tonight.

Yesterday was the hearing in the Judiciary Committee. The Committee voted it out to the floor by a vote of 6 to 3.

According to the General Assembly bill status website (updated infrequently,) the bill has been “Placed on Calendar Order of 2nd Reading April 15, 2010.” (Bills require 3 readings before the final vote.)

As others have written, HB 5428 has already passed the House in a very quiet and very quick fashion, holding no hearings in which bill opponents could testify against the bill. In yesterday’s Judiciary Committee hearing only one opponent was allowed to speak. The vote was taken before Committee members had time to read the submitted written testimony.

This bill is being railroaded through.

Just how quickly?

I’d urge making your calls and sending out your faxes as quickly as possible.

Marley posted the Bastard Nation testimony on HB 5428 on her Daily Bastardette site.

Her small comment sums it up pretty well:

This is one of the saddest days in adoption rights history Apparently proponents believe that something is better than nothing–and this sure is nothing. If the bill becomes law, Illinois is a dead state. Below is Bastard Nation’s submitted testimony. It’s full of facts. And we know, facts don’t count.

Which is not to say we’d stop fighting even if the damned bill does go through, just that things get much more complicated from that point.

I prefer to think of this opposition as preventative medicine.

If that fails, then we’ll have to see what we can do about a triple bypass down the line.

The double edged sword is that like in so many states over the past decade, many legislators have come to support the core concept of open records, BUT those pushing this legislation are falsely portraying it as an open records bill/adoptee rights bill.

HB 5428  is NOT an adoptee rights bill.

Rights are one size fits all, either you have them or you don’t. This bill may grant SOME adopted people born prior to an arbitrarily set date access, but it does so at the direct expense of other adopted people’s access in essence guaranteeing they will be left behind.

This degrades any access granted down to the level of mere state granted privilege, or access by the state’s permission. A mere indulgence that can be granted or taken at whim.

Nor is HB 5428 an open records bill.

Adopted people born after the magic arbitrarily designated date are tossed right back into the gaping maw of Illinois’ broken confidential intermediary machine, dealing with the registry system, only with new civil penalities starting at $10,000 for anyone in the mere possession of information that has been added to the registry. Yes, even if an adopted person never acts on any information they might have, and yes, even if they got the piece of information from an Aunt not anything leaked from the registry.

HB 5428 has search and reunion tangled in with medical information, all of which belongs in the interpersonal realm, not the realm of civil, human, and identity rights.

It includes a veto system- making access conditional upon gaining permission from what are at this point people the adoptee has never even met, a person who is a stranger to them with no legal rights to them. Again, see the BN testimony, the bill,

2. vacates, though parental disclosure veto power (see #4) 750 ILCS 50/10) (from Ch. 40, par. 1512) FINAL AND IRREVOCABLE CONSENT TO ADOPTION which states in part:
That I do hereby consent and agree to the adoption of such child. That I wish to and understand that by signing this consent I do irrevocably and permanently give up all custody and other parental rights I have to such child. That I understand such child will be placed for adoption and that I cannot under any circumstances, after signing this document, change my mind and revoke or cancel this consent or obtain or recover custody or any other rights over such child.

It also contradicts its own language:
“Surrendered person” means a person whose parents’ rights have been surrendered or terminated but who has not been adopted.” (p 11)

Rather than simply restoring the right to access adopted people’s own original unaltered birth certificates, a right they enjoyed up until 1946, instead HB 5428 seeks to build empires off the backs of adopted people and our families.

Empires of new layers of bureaucracy and a year long (potentially expensive, yet fiscally undisclosed) public awareness campaign complete with website development, PSAs, written materials, etc. all for systems that as they currently stand, fail to serve the interests of those they were designed to serve.

What we as adopted people seek is equality under law, nothing more and nothing less.

Equality to those non-adopted.

And equality to the other adoptees standing alongside us, not multi-tiered access with an intermediary fee based system standing between ourselves and our state confiscated obcs.

If Bastards are ever going to achieve equality in Illinois it won’t be under this bill.

HB 5428 ensures adopted people are diverted into a wholly seperate convoluted and dysfunctional system designed to stand in their way.

This legislation actually makes an already bad situation far worse.

NOW is the moment, oppose this bill while there’s still time.

Contact information for the Senators can be found here.

10 Responses to “ACTION ALERT- Illinois HB 5428 is *NOT* an open records/adoptee rights bill- make calls NOW!”

  1. Baby Love Child Says:

    Bastardette has her take on it up.

  2. Triona Guidry Says:

    Thanks for continuing to cover this important legislation. You hit it on the head when you said killing this bill is preventative medicine. I was at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting (as you know) and watching the way this bill got lubricated through the process was sickening. The public has not had a chance to voice opinion on this bill.

    The good news is, legislators are starting to get it about adoptee rights. The bad news is, they think compromise legislation is the solution. As one of Illinois’ left-behinds, I agree that ALL people deserve the exact same access, unfettered and without having to justify themselves.

  3. Pennagal Says:

    The only opponent who spoke represented ILOpen, who had unfortunately failed to prepare her for testimony. She spoke passionately about her personal medical need for information rather than the reason for opposing the bill — equal treatment under the law for adult adoptees. And her parting shot was to allow that “perhaps” this bill was better than the status quo. Of course, the senate sponsor picked who would speak against his bill — where in Robert’s Rules is that permitted?

  4. Baby Love Child Says:

    Actually according to 73adoptee’s first person account:

    Next they called oral testimony from someone who believes the bill doesn’t go far enough. That person was Gay Brown, an adoptee who flew in from New Jersey to testify. She spoke of her need for birth certificate access because of her medical condition in which she needed to be tested for the breast cancer gene. Her insurance wouldn’t cover it because she couldn’t prove anyone in her family has it. She said, “Answers could save my life, and my daughters’.”

    Gay to the best of my knowledge was not Representing Illinois Open, and was not listed as ILOpen in terms of who they were representing at the hearing.

    That said, medical arguments are obviously NOT civil/human/identity rights based arguments and should not be used when trying to regain lost rights.

  5. Pennagal Says:

    Ms. Brown was sitting with Mary Lynn who signed in for ILOpen and who accompanied Ms. Brown to the interview with the reporter from Mary Lynn’s hometown TV station. Thus one assumed she was there on behalf of ILOpen or Mary Lynn, at least. And Mary Lynn praised the TV story in her communique’s today.

    If Ms. Brown was not their spokesperson then ILOpen certainly cannot be blamed for failing to coach her.

    What is interesting is that the opposition got to decide who would speak for and against them and not a single spokesperson was an IL adoptee. I wonder why?

  6. Baby Love Child Says:

    See, that’s why it’s important to whenever possible get the listing from the hearing to see who is there and who is representing what.

    In 73adoptee’s account she did just that:

    When you arrive you sign a little slip that says who you are, who you represent, whether you’re pro or con and if you want to submit oral and/or written testimony. Harmon read off the list of these people. Proponents: Terrance Martin, the organization Shiva Siv (sp?), Linda Coon from the Chicagoland Bar Association, Julie Tye of The Cradle (an adoption agency), Melisha Mitchell of the American Adoption Congress (sic), George Rudis of Illinois Dept. of Public Health (who runs the Illinois registry), a representative of DCFS. Opponents: Tom Nolan, Christopher Brown (husband of adoptee Gay Brown), Gay Brown, Mary Lynn Fuller of Illinois Open, Rev. Bob Vanderberg of Concerned Christians America, Mary Dixon of the ACLU, Ralph Rivera of Right To Life, and me for Adoption Reform Illinois sponsored by the Green Ribbon Campaign For Open Records.

    When people sit next to one another that can mean any number of things, from people who have never met but have exchanged e-mails, to people who met just that morning, to people who are best friends who have known one another 20 years or more.

    I wasn’t in IL, and not knowing a thing about the circumstances I’m not going to sit here and defend nor trash anyone.

    Did Mary Lynn have the faintest idea what Gay was actually going to say in her testimony in advance? Why don’t you ask Mary Lynn?

    If anything, from what I’ve heard second hand of what the testimony sounded like I’m not sure even Gay knew what she was going to say before she said it.

    Plenty of people who view themselves on some general “same side” tend to hang around together when thrust into the circumstances of a hearing and the immediate time before and after.

    I’ve certainly sat next to people or spent time with them after a hearing even when I’ve found their testimony incredibly disappointing, if for no other reason than to have the opportunity in ‘real time’ to mention some things they might want to reconsider before appearing before a committee again.

    As for the structure of the hearing, in all my years doing this and other legislative work, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    When confronted with opponents of the bill holding papers, looking prepared and ready to go, you’re damn straight that if I’m pushing the bill, I’d want to choose the one and only one of them allowed to speak very carefully.

    Obviously there’s the fact that Gay flew in such a distance for this, but again, a major portion of the problem was that not only was Gay the one speaking, she was the only one speaking, no other Bastard perspectives were there to bring out the rest of the story.

    73adoptee’s story is incredibly compelling, it’s a common sense sort of a, hey, wait a minute! This isn’t working, and this bill WON’T do what it claims in light of this.

    Yet the vote was taken before written testimony was read and she was never given any opportunity to bring her circumstances forward.

    Gay’s testimony, (not that I’ve seen it mind you, I have no idea where she was adopted or anything beyond the fact that she is an adult adoptee who spoke, and the accounts of her testimony) to my understanding of it contained elements that are deeply problematic when trying to work for the restoration of adoptee rights.

    But far more than merely ‘blaming’ Gay, I think the heart of the issue here has to remain on the broken structure that shut Bastards voices out.

    In essence, the very structure itself has prevented our arguments from being made personally at any point in this process.

    We can work phone calls and faxes, emails on the few that function, but by and large, our presence there is ignored or plastered over.

  7. Baby Love Child Says:

    Mary Lynn Fuller has very helpfully added Gay Ellen Brown’s testimony to her own Rights of Adoptees blog.

    As this is the one and only adoptee who was able to actually testify against the bill (before the Judiciary committee) it is incredibly useful to be able to actually see what it was she said.

    Mary Lynn added:

    Gay had written testimony in her hands and read it word for word on April 13th before the IL Senate Judiciary Committee. I am a witness to that since I was present at the hearing. I have permission from Gay and her husband to place it on my Blog site. I respect their privacy so I have not included Gay’s date of birth, their home address, phone # or email address. But other than that in its entirety:

    The testimony contains a few points very pertinent to this comment thread.

    First of all, she is an Illinois born adoptee.

    Secondly, I think it’s pretty darn dedicated of her to have flown in from NJ for the hearing.

    The third paragraph is of course problematic in that restoring OBC access does not equate to medical information, and I’ve already covered that in this thread. It’s a very common tactic, but ultimately is not a productive line of argument as restoration of the right to OBC access does not translate to medical information. It merely provides the state an excuse to set up its own information exchanges and registries, the very things the civil/human/identity rights arguments are working against.

    On a personal note I always choke at the language of “birthmother” being used period, whether that be in relation to children lost or children kept. Mothers are Mothers, no modifier necessary. I’ve seen this language used in books and online, and every time I see it, I reject it strongly, but that’s just me.

    In any case, Gay did mention the very basis of her reason for coming to Illinois:

    HB5428, it is unfair and unconstitutional to all adoptees born in Illinois

    And while that may not have taken up as much time and space as the medical aspects, it deserves recognition as well.

    Does it suck to be sitting here monday morning quarterbacking the testimony of the one and only adopted person allowed to speak before the Senate? Absolutely.

    All of this would be much less pertinent if the committee had allowed the full slate of those on ‘our side’ to bring forward the many issues relating to this bill. Gay’s voice would have been one among many, and no doubt others were poised to bring forward much more of the rights based arguments.

    Still, it’s incredibly useful to have this document, as it represents the only voice actually heard. For historical reasons alone, I can’t thank Gay and Mary Lynn for bringing this testimony forward like this.

    That, and all quibbles aside, I’m still damn impressed Gay made the effort to get to the hearing. That kind of dedication is all too rare these days.

  8. Mary Lynn Fuller Says:

    Thank you for your compliments! Gay’s medical necessity and a civil right being restored to all adopted adults were interwoven quite nicely.

    How many other IL adoptees traveled for thousands of miles or for that matter came from within Illinois? I’m sure some would have loved to have had but just could not make it for a valid reason. But I can’t help but think that more could have if they had really wanted.

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