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Illinois HB5428 and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s (office’s?) contemptuous use of the term “ungrateful bastards”

Well, I fully intended to be working on a post about the latest developments in Haiti tonight, but instead, I’m going to add a post about this stunner from Illinois Representative Sara Feigenholtz (or someone tasked with answering her emails.)

Representative Feigenholtz is herself an adoptee, and sadly, the primary sponsor of HB 5428. (A classic example of an adoptee working in direct opposition to the broader interests of what I loosely term class Bastard, see point 1 here.)

So, a tragedy in three acts:


By way of backgrounder to this piece go see Bastardette’s blog post from earlier today:


Lori Jeske, (who lives in Washington State,) contacted Representative Feigenholtz and got quite the illiterate and nasty earful back.

Whether such was written by the Representative herself or merely a staff member or office support personnel tasked with answering the email, the bottom line is the buc stops with Representative Feigenholtz herself. She is the one ultimately responsible for responses going out through her publicly published State Representative email account.

To me, at least it matters little that Ms. Jeske was not an Illinois resident, (I have no way of knowing) whether she is an Illinois born adoptee living out of state, or merely another adoptee who cares about adoptee rights.

No one deserves such wretched abuse at the keyboard of any State Representative’s office.

No one who takes the time to contact a state representative, even a representative in another state deserves to be called


or to be spoken to like this:

Would you consider giving Representative Feigenholtz the key to your (delusional) Eutopian world where all ungrateful bastards think it’s easy to pass a bill that makes everyone happy AND CAN ACTUALLY PASS ? Pass a law? what a concept !!

this is nothing short of contempt for the efforts of those who work to pass a genuine adoptee rights bill, one that restores records access to ALL adoptees in Illinois.

Rather than showing so much as a glimmer of understanding that Ms. Jeske already has made a point of being involved in the legislative process and is merely advocating support for another bill, one that would not leave a significant portion of adopted people behind, (their rights shredded by HB 5428) instead, her interest in Representative Feigenholtz’s bill was met with sarcasm, hostility, and outright anger.

Whoever answered her email resorted to labeling those of us who want human rights restored to all, as living in a

(delusional) Eutopian world

(That would be “Utopian” for those of us who either know how to spell or know how to use spellcheck)


ungrateful bastards

Well now, this is an awfully interesting turn of phrase coming from the office of an adopted person herself!


“Ungrateful” to whom?

To representative Feigenholtz for working for a bill that will gut the human and civil rights of any adoptee born after Jan. 1, 1946?

Why on earth would any genuine adoptee rights advocate who supports the full restoration of adopted people’s right to their state held original birth certificates be grateful to the State Representative who pushed the bill that will force a multitude of adopted people into an arcane system of  confidential intermediaries, vetoes, criminalization of possession of certain forms of information that pertain to their own lives, etc?

Adopted people are very used to having the insult “ungrateful bastard!” hurled at them by people who are themselves, not adopted.

Hearing such from another adopted person (‘s office?) let alone a State Representative, is rather remarkable.

All notions of “civil discourse” devolved down into name calling and questioning the mental state of those who dare so much as question, let alone disagree.

It is conduct unbecoming a State Representative.

I don’t care who you are, this kind of bile is not a reasonable nor rational response to anyone who has taken the time to contact a government official.

Not being from Illinois, I have no idea whether or not Members of the Illinois General Assembly have some form of a code of conduct or not, but more than an apology, and more than a firing of a staffer (if that’s who wrote this response) seems in order here.

People bemoan others lack of involvement in civic life and the political process?

This is pretty much example “A” of why so many people have simply given up.

When incivility is no longer some nebulous free floating concept surrounding politics, and instead becomes personally directed at an individual, from a State Representative’s email account to a person who dared make their political stance known, the incivility is visceral.

Ms. Jeske moved beyond apathy and what she has to show for her trouble is nothing short of a lashing out, or emotional outburst from behind a keyboard.

While Representative Feigenholtz may not be happy that there are other adoptees who oppose her strategy, she had no reasonable expectation that we would sit quietly by while her bill did incredible damage to the rights of any so many Illinois adoptees, setting precedents that could well go on to damage the rights of adopted people in other states.

I added this comment to Bastardette’s post tonight, it sums up my personal disgust:

Very sad to see.

We may disagree completely at times, but (speaking for myself at least,) my correspondence with the legislators has certainly been courteous and respectful.

It’s shameful to see a legislator, (or perhaps her office,) treat what appears to be one of the very class of people whose interests she claims to represent as if they were little more than dirt.

If this is her bedrock attitude towards the adopted people who disagree with her tactically, is it then any wonder when some of us reject any notion that she speaks for us, or speaks on behalf of our interests?

Perhaps other Illinois legislators simply never get to see this side of her. Behavior like this appears to be reserved for those whose rights she claims (falsely) to champion.

With ‘champions’ like this, why should she be the least bit surprised when those of us who will accept nothing short of human and civil rights for adopted people speak out?

Human rights are for everyone, not merely a lucky few.

If Representative Feigenholtz believes that, she should have pushed for a genuine adoptee rights bill.

If she doesn’t believe human rights should apply to all of us, then naturally, other adopted people are going to state the obvious, why the hell not?

If she (or her staff?) are unable to deal with adopted people’s demand for full equality, not yet another broken system of rights for some at the direct expense of others, then perhaps it’s long past time she relinquish this self bestowed mantle of advocate for adoptee rights and leave the work to those in Illinois, more than willing work for the real.

Representative Feigenholtz, your condescension and outright contempt for your fellow adoptees is nothing short of appalling.

-Lauren Sabina Kneisly


Lori’s note brought up a simple truth:

This bill will prove to a huge population of citizens that Democrats should not longer govern the State of Illinois. It is with deep regret, as a Democrat, to see this bill and your inability to stand up for ALL citizens in the State of Illinois.

In the House, a number of Republicans voted for the bill, but when it came to the Senate, the votes on HB 5428 were remarkably partisan.

It was Democrats voting the bill through, ultimately voting to eviscerate adoptee rights in Illinois, even as most likely thought they were voting for an actual adoptee rights bill (considering the marketing spin Representative Feigenholtz and the media put on the bill.)

What Ms. Jeske was pointing out was that many adoptees will neither forget, nor forgive the fact that it was Democrats who handed handed over the devastating loss to actual adoptee rights in the State Senate.

Adopted people may be a minority but for some, this is more than an issue, this is our lives, and in some cases, it will likely affect people’s votes. She did nothing more than point out that this stance may in whatever small way, have political consequences.

For many adoptees who are Democrats then, it is a particular form of heartbreak watching Representatives such as Sara Feigenholtz (whose record and stances on other ‘issues’ near and dear to Democratic hearts is otherwise so human rights based, be that for women, for Queers, the elderly etc.) refuse to ask for full human rights for ALL adopted people.

When it comes to Bastards, adoptee Democrats feel a particular betrayal to see what they would deem an otherwise solid candidate sell “her own” out.

If Governor Pat Quinn (himself a Democrat) signs the bill, sadly, it will be Democrats that will have screwed Illinois adoptees for generations to come.

Is it any surprise then, when adoptees who are also Democrats are horrified? Horrified enough to write the primary sponsor of the bill expressing their disappointment?

Year after year Illinois adoptees were told to wait until a golden moment arrived when enough Democrats were in power before an adoptee rights bill could pass.

As Bastard Grannie Annie lays out, Representative Feigenholtz had an opportunity, a moment if you will, a “best chance” to actually get a real bill through. Instead, she wasted the opportunity, and pushed HB 5428, a bill that will actually FURTHER ERODE many adopted people’s existing rights in Illinois.

Are adopted people angry? Certainly, especially those who actually listened to those saying ‘we just need a few more seats’ and actually went to work for candidates or donated money, thinking that if the electoral strategy worked, they too, might have their moment.

On the other hand, a number of Republicans rejected the bill (the position those of us who want a genuine rights bill asked elected officials to take.) But, many voted “no” apparently by and large NOT out of genuine support for actual adoptee rights, but out of abortion related fears projected onto the vote.

Again, part of what Ms. Jeske was getting at, is that for some adoptees, especially those who have now been betrayed so deeply by the Democrats, their votes may well go to Republican candidates (not out of political fluency, but out of anger, not realizing that many of the Republicans who voted against the bill are no champions of Bastard rights either.)

Ultimately, Bastards, are left with no standard bearer, not the Democrats, not Republicans, and now demonstrably, certainly not Representative Feigenholtz herself.

Those advocating full restoration of all adopted people’s rights were left not merely without a champion, but quite literally almost without a voice, as only a single adopted person was allowed to testify in the Judicial Committee hearing. (See the comments on this post and this direct link to a copy of the testimony itself.)

By the time the full Senate vote was taken, Senators had confused her testimony against the bill as reasons she ‘supported’ the bill!


As if all of this wasn’t somehow twisted enough?

There’s also the question of whether or not the American Adoption Congress had the faintest idea it was on record as being in support of the bill.

According to 73adoptee, who was present for the Judiciary Committee hearing, Melisha Mitchell signed in as a proponent of the bill representing the American Adoption Congress (AAC.)

Which would be all fine and well, except apparently, the AAC no longer considered her their state representative at the time!

Quoting from part II of Bastardette’s important series Deja Vu All Over Again-Sneaky Sara Feigenholtz:

Mitchell runs the White Oak Foundation, a putative non-profit search company that according to its webpage does free and at-cost adoption searches. Despite her long record of writing and promoting bills whose object is in direct conflict with the American Adoption Congress’ policies, Mitchell was, until recently, the AAC Illinois State Rep. Why she remained in the fold until a few weeks ago, associating the AAC with her tom-foolery and really bad bills is one of those AdoptionLand mysteries we can only ponder. I have been assured by the AAC that she no longer represents the organization in any capacity, despite her reported sign-in last week, at the Senate hearing. (see “respond” link above). Her name does not appear on the organization website.

The American Adoption Congress may now also be surprised to find itself supposedly having a representative on the OBC-Access Public Information Campaign Oversight Committee formed by HB 5428.

So now we’re left with a critically important question:

Does the American Adoption Congress actually support this bill that will do incredible damage to Illinois adoptee’s rights, *OR* was the bill’s passage built upon Melisha Mitchell lying and claiming to represent the AAC when in fact she had been dropped by the AAC as its one time Illinois state representative prior to the Judiciary Committee hearing?

Currently, the AAC website lists no state representative for Illinois and until recently made no mention of the bill it’s supposedly a proponent of in its legislative section. As the website stands tonight,  a section on the bill has since been added, but makes no mention of any AAC support for it, nor any mention of AAC participation in the oversight committee HB 5428 would create.

If the AAC’s alleged “support” for the bill and presumed representative on the oversight committee formed by the bill in any way influenced the votes of elected officials, this could have vast ramifications.

The AAC was the primary nationwide group of adoptees that was to be represented on the OBC-Access Public Information Campaign Oversight Committee.

If the AAC, (or perhaps more accurately, the AAC seat Melisha Mitchell may have tried to arrange for herself,) is not on the committee then a committee that was always overwhelmingly representative of the adoption industry will find itself with few if any voices of adoptees at all. From HB 5428:

OBC-Access Public Information Campaign Oversight Committee comprised of

  • representatives of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Children
  • and Family Services,

as well as one representative from each of
the following organizations:

  • Adoptees, Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents Together
  • Adoption Advocates of America
  • Adoptive Families Today
  • Agudath Israel of America
  • American Adoption Congress
  • The Baby Fold
  • Catholic Conference of Illinois
  • Chicago Area Families for Adoption
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Child Care Association of Illinois
  • Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois
  • Child Welfare Advisory Council
  • The Cradle
  • Healing Hearts; For Birth Parents by Birthparents
  • Illinois Foster Parents Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Illinois State Medical Society
  • LDS Social Services
  • Lutheran Social Services of Illinois
  • Maryville Academy
  • Midwest Adoption Center
  • St. Mary’s Services
  • and Stars of David


As I have from the beginning, I continue to oppose this bill, only more so in light of the ugliness and potential deception now surrounding it.

I continue to urge readers to please contact Governor Quinn and ask he veto this travesty of a bill.

8 Responses to “Illinois HB5428 and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s (office’s?) contemptuous use of the term “ungrateful bastards””

  1. Mary Lynn Fuller Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to cover this serious matter in a very well written manner!

    Rep. Feigenholtz’s HB 5428 has been quite difficult to deal with. But now I’m outraged that a state representative or someone speaking for her would reply to a polite email in such an unprofessional manner.

    Rep. Feigenholtz is an example as to why so many IL politicians have a bad name in this state, especially those from Chicago.

    Gov. Quinn must be encouraged to do the right thing and VETO HB 5428. It obviously was sponsored by a state representative who cares less about IL adopted adults. It is no wonder that it is the worse bill possible and is definitely a giant step backward in adoption reform.

    We need a state representative who cares about the adoptees to sponsor a clean bill. It might be difficult to get passed but with the Democrats controlling both houses right now perhaps it would have become reality. But Rep. Feigenholtz simply did not care and I think there is no doubt about it that she was looking out for her friend Melisha Mitchell.

  2. Anita Walker Field Says:

    Thank you so much for your comprhensive blog about what’s happening in Illinois Adoptionland. Youre right on target with this blog.

  3. Pennagal Says:

    I have seen at least one version of this bill in which the composition of the advisory committee no longer includes AAC; this change occurred shortly after Melisha Mitchell was fired.

    I have not discovered a single adoption reform group that supported this bill but I can name many who sat silently on their hands or who took whatever opportunity presented itself to grab the media spotlight for 15 seconds of fame but who delivered no effective argument against the bill.

    I think there was a time, back in the 1980s perhaps, when asking for an incremental change made a warped kind of sense but that was before Alabama, Hew Hampshire and Maine where a champion of adoptee rights used their legislative power to right a wrong. We know it can be done. Sadly, we also know that adoption reform groups lack the skill to build a strategic alliance to fight a bad bill much less push a good one through.

  4. Triona Guidry Says:

    I find this somewhat of a relief–appalling, yes, but not surprising to anyone who has tried to achieve true adoption reform in Illinois. I wonder if she is getting so cocky that she thinks her bill will pass and that it no longer matters if she shows her true colors. I, for one, shared it with my legislators. Sara Feigenholtz is NOT the sole opinion on adoptee rights in Illinois.

    I agree, the AAC matter is a critically important question, and one I would like to see AAC address.

  5. Mara Says:

    This disgusting email needs to be sent to CBS, CNN, and all the major networks. This Feigenholtz piece of work needs to be exposed for the lunatic she is.

  6. Baby Love Child Says:


    Look I have no idea what the interpersonal politic or history between you and various other groups has been, nor do I particularly care, but as far as I’ve seen numerous organizations and individuals have been busting their humps to kill this bill.

    There are those who have sat silently by, but they have been groups other than Bastard Nation, IL Open, and for that matter Green Ribbons or 73adoptee in particular, I have no idea what else GR has been doing other than the webpage and ‘’ “petition.”

    As for your “…delivered no effective argument against the bill” that would assume there were effective arguments that were not used.

    Far as I can tell, the Illinois General Assembly wasn’t listening, it didn’t listen when those directly affected showed up to testify, it wasn’t listening when both the house and senate rammed it through, and it still isn’t listening now after the fact as it becomes clearer and clearer this legislation was build on a lot of assumptions, many of which were simply untrue.

    Rather than blaming the Bastards working against the bill, maybe you want to take a deep breath and realize that the problem here was not adopted people (other than Feigenholtz herself.)

    Quit blaming Bastards.

    I’ve let each of your comments through moderation and I’ve personally taken the time to respond to each and every one. To be honest, at the moment, I’m at an adoption conference working over the next few days, and I have no time nor interest in watching you monday morning quarterbacking the best efforts of those in IL and elsewhere who fought this bill tooth and nail.

    Take a look at my WTF page if you want more detail on my ‘comments policy’ but at this point, I’ve been more than obliging of you coming in here and trash talking about those putting their hearts and souls into fighting this bill and it’s past time you ‘got your muddy shoes off my heirloom coffee table.’

    You’re blaming “adoption reform groups” for a massive change in awareness and landscape over the past decade (since Oregon was finally enacted in 2000) which is nothing more than more of the usual blaming the ‘victims’ or those on the receiving end of this legislative crap.

    The real problem is not Bastards, it’s legislators who don’t know the differences between real adoptee rights bills and fake drek like the RI bill. It’s all those who project their abortion fears all over legislation that should do nothing more than restore adoptee’s rights. It’s lots of factors.

    I’ve let you take up more than enough space with your bemoaning the best efforts of those around you working on all our behalf.

    If you want to finger point, feel free, but my blog’s comments aren’t the place for it.

  7. Baby Love Child Says:

    Another very well written blog about the Feigenholtz matter readers should explore.

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