Mourning Dress and Hat – 1870s
(Owned by Obscura Antiques & Oddities of New York City)
via 19th Century Post
Today, I’m feeling very Casandra.
I shouldn’t have to blog this, I’ve written it all before, over and over again. Today’s events are everything I’ve continually warned of year in and year out.
NJ-CARE’s short sighted, self absorbed damaging and contorted (lack of) access bill, A1406/1399/S799 passed in the General Assembly this afternoon, thus moving one step closer to sealing records for all NJ kids passing through the so called “safe haven” program once and for all.
The bill now passes on to the Governor’s Desk, where if there is any justice left in this world for Bastards and Abandoned Children it should be promptly vetoed.
Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.
Baby dump proponents were not strong enough to pass a mandatory sealed records clause as the “Safe haven” legislation passed in New Jersey years ago, but as we saw today, they’ve found themselves a set of dupes, and/or willing accomplices in NJ-CARE, Adam Pertman and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Jean Strauss and others, each of whom at this point have been more than willing to do their wretched dirty work for them.
I’ve written for years now about the unfolding catastrophe in New Jersey.
Today is but the latest chapter in the ongoing co-optation from without and gutting from what is often mistaken for “within” the movement(s) for the full restoration of adopted people’s full human rights.
I say mistaken for “within” the movement as people like Jean Strauss have plainly admitted that for her, this is not grounded in any notion of rights based work or a restoration of rights, nor to her, is it work pertaining to working to eradicate a deep injustice perpetrated on adopted people and our families (quoting from my partner Mike’s blog):
…Strauss, in the course of organizing that doomed effort, has explicitly denied that open birth certificates are a civil right of adoptees. Regarding the advocacy of her organization in California, she wrote “… this is not an effort to ‘right a wrong’ or ‘a fight for our Constitutional rights.’
Clearly, by her own admission, people like Strauss are not part of the rights based movement.
Organizations such as NJ-CARE who not only bring her in relying upon her (non-rights based) “expertise” (advocating a ’sell some out’ approach) and going so far as to adopt the same model as Strauss’ failed California “CARE” effort, likewise certainly leave themselves open to the question of whether or not they are genuinely part of the human rights based adoptee rights movement either.
NJ-CARE and individuals closely associated with it, have long signaled their willingness to trade away the human rights of adopted people standing next to them, and the access to original birth certificates for the entire class of (mostly yet even unconceived) legally abandoned children (some of whom will in turn, be reprocessed into adoptees.) Their support for and work on behalf of the fatally flawed and corrupted A1406/1399/S799 bore that out. Saying in effect, ‘we want (the possibility of maybe) getting ours, we don’t care who we trade away or trample over in the course of attempting to get that.’
It’s both shameful, and pathetic.
But more to the point, such negates any possibility of being rooted in human or civil rights, as human and civil rights are based in class based solutions. (Not “class” in terms of economic, but “class” in terms of a delineated set of people.)
One cannot “gain” human rights at the direct expense of the person also in your class standing next to you.
Or as I’ve said before ‘adoptee rights cannot be “won” at the direct expense of abandoned children (many of whom will go on to become adoptees themselves.)’
I’ve stated so often rights based solutions must apply to all, otherwise the injustice is merely sustained as the systems of power and control have not yet been dismantled.
The New Jersey bill not only fundamentally maintains the systems of discrimination, it builds new hoops for adoptees and their families to jump through, new bureaucracies, and hands the industry gifts on a silver platter, all at the expense of the human rights of other New Jersey children and eventual adults.
This is no victory, this is unconscionable.
NJ-CARE and its allies lost the ability to speak on behalf of Class Bastard and Class Bastard’s interests the moment it cleaved off other portions of Class Bastard and determined them expendable.
As to who is left speaking on behalf of those fucked over and left behind, the answer is simple enough, those firmly rooted in the human rights based demand for equality for all.
We speak on behalf of those no one else cares about, in part because some of what may come to be their circumstances were once ours.
Let me be perfectly blunt:
You can’t claim to genuinely be for adoptee rights if your strategy involves leaving subsets of adoptees behind.
That’s why I have written so often and so clearly over and over again about how the genuine adoptee rights work is rooted in leaving no one behind. (As but one of many examples, see my post, Bastard Access- either we all go together or we don’t go at all- “Nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”)
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 unwarrented 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.
But obviously, I have many areas of grave concern with the bill.
The substitute bill version that was approved today contains precisely some of the windfalls to industry at the expense of our rights that I warned about, such as a new liability shield, ensuring we will not be able to seek redress in court, even in cases wherein “inaccuracies” are proffered as reality, (such as in the NJ Catholic Charities fraud I blogged here):
7. (New section) a. A person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or agency that has placed a child for adoption shall not be liable in any civil or criminal action for damages resulting from information provided by the State Registrar pursuant to this act.
b. An employee, agent or officer of the Department of Health and Senior Services who is authorized by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to disclose information relating to the certification of birth pursuant to this act, shall not be liable for:
(1) disclosing information based on a written, notarized request submitted in accordance with this act; and
(2) any error or inaccuracy in the information that is disclosed after receipt of a written, notarized request submitted in accordance with this act, and any consequence of that error or inaccuracy.
It’s a gift to the adoption industry. It strips us and our family members of our right to sue.
This bill is not about increasing our rights, it’s about decreasing our rights.
It is not about opening records, so much as it is about sealing records, both through vetoes and for the dumped kids.
I could go on and on, pulling sections of the bill and pointing out over and over again the damage they stand to do to our rights, to our Mothers’ rights, to the rights of children passing through the baby dump program. (Fortunately Bastard Nation has already catalogued many of the bill’s horrors.)
But as I said in New York at the Evan B. Donaldson cheerleading pep rally for the bill (at which Mr. Pertman, the EBD head openly lied about the institute’s support for the bill)
“Have you read the bill?”
It’s all there in black and white.
Those proponents I’ve spoken to about the bill are past the point of listening.
It’s become tribal, an article of “faith” that this bill is a good thing, and any of us who dare stand against it we are being re-categorized as the ENEMY of adoptee rights.
Not surprising, considering it’s precisely what Strauss and her CARE group did in California.
(Never mind the fact that groups with CARE in their name in the adoption realm have yet to ever pass any of their deformer bills and are synonymous with sellling adoptees out and making messes wherever they go, while those they’re busily attacking, like Bastard Nation DO have a track record, and an extensive one at that, of actually getting clean bills passed that genuinely restore access to all.)
I know speaking only for myself personally, I stand on the side of all adopted people receiving equitable treatment under law and deserve to have our records restored to us for no other reason than this is a matter of our basic human rights.
No child should be intentionally stripped of their identity by the state. Certainly not merely for passing through New Jersey’s legalized child abandonment child laundering system, and all the more so those who were never at any risk, who were born in hospitals to identified Mothers only to have that information stripped from them after the fact.
No adoptee should be left behind by a “contact preference” creeped contact veto. No Mother should be forced by the state to hand over her personal and legally protected private medical history year in and year out so that yet another state bureaucracy can be constructed rather than simply restoring class Bastard’s basic equality.
Yet this is the very damage ACS 1406 stands poised to unleash.
Our genuine “birthright” is that of equal treatment under law.
This legislation fails that most basic test.
For those who care about the real rights of Bastards and those legally abandoned in New Jersey, all I can say is the clock’s ticking. If this damnedable bill gets signed into law, it’s those with the least voice, the least political power, and precious few advocates indeed who will be forced to pay the price.
Not that NJ-CARE cares.