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New Jersey BN ACTION ALERT: Support Adoptee Rights for All, Not Privilege for Some. Tell Gov. Christie to Veto A1406

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Support adoptee rights for all, not privilege for some
Write New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today
Ask him to veto A1406/1399/S699
A1406/1399/S699 is on its way to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for signing. Gov. Christie’s views on the bill are unknown. Please take a few minutes to write the governor now and ask him to veto this flawed legislation and to support a clean bill that includes the restoration of the rights of all the state’s adoptees.
For information on the bill go here:

Letters should be short, around 200 words. Hard copies are preferable.

Governor Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
609-292-6000
You can also use this template
Below is Bastard Nation’s letter:

May 11, 2011
Governor Chris Christie
P.O. Box 001
The State House
Trenton, NJ 08625-0001
RE: Please Veto A1406: Adoptees’ Birthright Bill
Dear Gov. Christie:
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization, the largest adoptee civil rights organization in North America, opposes A1406: The Adoptees’ Birthright bill, which passed the General Assembly earlier this week. Please veto this bill.
A1406 will permit some New Jersey adopted adults to receive their true and accurate original birth certificates (OBC) Others, through compromise language and a misnamed “contact preference form,” permits “birthparents” to remove their names from the document. An adoptee “vetoed” under this provision will instead receive only a mutilated false certificate with the name and address of the “birthparent(s)” bureaucratically excised by the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Bastard Nation rejects the special privilege of any parent to remove their name from the birth certificate of their own adult offspring or in any other way hinder the release of the true and accurate original birth certificate to the adoptee. No such third party privilege exists to keep the not-adopted from receiving their birth certificates. The adopted and not-adopted should enjoy due process and be treated equal under law.
Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to their own birth certificates: Oregon through state-wide ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. Kansas and Alaska never sealed records. Why should New Jersey buck the tide and pass a bill that continues to treat adoptee access to their own birth certificates as a privilege, not a right–a right that the not-adopted enjoy without a second thought? Please veto A1406 and tell the legislature to return with a new clean bill that restores the right of access to all the state’s adopted citizens. Thank you.
Yours truly,
Marley E. Greiner, Executive Chair

NJ-CARE & its allies work to screw New Jersey adoptees and abandoned children for generations to come

Mourning-Dress

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-CAREAdam 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.

StitchThat’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.

Missouri HB 351: Bastard Nation Submitted Testimony – OPPOSE

Bastard Nation’s Testimony in Opposition to Missouri HB 351, posted yesterday:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missouri HB 351: Bastard Nation Submitted Testimony – OPPOSE

Tuesday, the Missouri Senate Health, Mental Health, Seniors, and Families Committee held a hearing on it’s greatly flawed SB 351. (text, status/history) Bastard Nation, through our long-time member Carla McBrine as able to submit our opposition testimony in person. Unfortunately, the committee voted the bill out of committee (I haven’t been able to find the roll call vote) and the bill is headed for the Senate. At this time, we don’t know if it will be scheduled for a vote. The session ends May 13.

TESTIMONY

SB 351:
access to identifying information for adoptions original birth certificate
Missouri Senate Health, Mental Health, Seniors and Families Committee
March 29, 2011
OPPOSE
Privilege is the opposite of rights


Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, SB 351.

Under current Missouri law, the original birth certificates of all Missouri adoptees are sealed and cannot be released to the adoptee except by court order and only with the consent of both the biological and adoptive parents. This 4-signature consent represents the most restrictive OBC access law in the United States. For as long as we can remember, Missouri adoption reform advocates have been attempting to free the state’s adoptees from these onerous restrictions.

Unfortunately, SB 351 is not the bill to overturn the current law. SB 351makes superficial changes to the OBC access structure, removing adoptive parent sign-offs, while maintaining retrospectively and prospectively the other restrictions which keep Missouri adoptee birth records and identity a state secret.

SB 351 is misleading and inimical to the rights of all Missouri adoptees. The measure is promoted as an “adoptee rights” and OBC “access bill.” It is not. SB 351 reinforces out-dated adoption secrecy through the disclosure affidavit for “birthparents” The bill even authorizes a natural parent to not only order the state to withhold the OBC from the adoptee, but to override the wishes of the other parent that it be released! SB 351 does not restore the right to the OBC once enjoyed by all Missouri adoptees. Instead, it makes adoptee access to their own birth certificates a state/”birth family” conditioned privilege separate and unequal from the right enjoyed by Missouri’s not adopted.

Sooner or later Missouri and every other state that has not opened OBCs unconditionally to adoptees are going to be forced to. The issue isn’t going away. This is not a matter of if, but when.

Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances due to discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems.

Adoptees without a genuine original birth record could soon be barred from running for public office.‭ ‬At least‭ ‬10‭ ‬states, including Missouri (HB 283; sp Lyle Rowland, Mike Kelly) have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present their original birth certificates to appropriate authorities to prove citizenship eligibility for office.‭ ‬Some of these bills go farther,‭ ‬mandating anyone running for office to prove citizenship through an original birth certificate.‭ ‬It is no stretch to think that someday soon adoptees could be barred from voting due to lack of‭ “‬legal‭” ‬identity over problematic amended birth certificates,‭ ‬and the perpetual sealing of the originals.‭

Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the latter four states have been released with no reported ill consequences.

Rights are for all citizens, not favors doled out to some Missouri does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or third party preference.
Vote DO NOT PASS on SB 351. All of Missouri adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. Missouri adoptees deserve better than SB 351!

Submitted by Marley Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization
March 27, 2011

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.

Texas: Bastard Nation Testimony in Opposition to SB 287

Bastard Nation’s Testimony in Opposition to Texas SB 287, posted yesterday to the BN blog:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Texas: Bastard Nation Testimony in Opposition to SB 287

Tomorrow the Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on SB 287, the newest attempt by legislators to torture that state’s Class Bastard. There are more things wrong with this bill than the special effects in Spiderman. Below is the 3-minute testimony Bastard Nation submitted to the committee.

Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee, March 22, 2011

SUBMITTED TESTIMONY
SB 287 access to identifying information for adoptions original birth certificate access

OPPOSE

Privilege is the opposite of right

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, upon request, of their own true, unaltered original birth certificates (OBC). We oppose SB 287.

SB 287 is egregious in extremis. SB 287 is prospective. It contains a misnamed, linguistically confusing “contact preference form” (which has nothing to do with “preference” or “contact”)that authorizes a natural parent to not only order the state registrar to withhold the OBC from the adoptee, but to override the “preference” of the other parent that it be released. Moreover, treating adult adoptees and their natural parent(s) as children at best, dangerous criminals at worst, SB 287 forces mandatory social service or mental health counseling on both parties simply because they want the OBC released.

SB 287 is a dirty bill.

  • * Clean bills, unlike SB 287 with its conditions and restrictions, provides equal OBC access to all adoptees retrospectively and prospectively, with no conditions or exceptions.
  • * Clean bills, unlike SB 287, contain no third party disclosure and contact vetoes.
  • * Clean bills, unlike SB 287, contain no mandatory counseling, registries, confidential state intermediaries, and other conditions that limit the free flow of information and treat the adopted differently from the not-adopted.
  • * Clean bills, unlike SB 287, have nothing to do with search and reunion, matters best left to individuals to act on without state mediation and control.
  • * Clean bills unlike, unlike SB 287 with it’s “anonymous” medical registry, have nothing to do with adoptee/parent medical histories. The OBC, in fact, contains no medical information. A state demand for natural parent medical history, as included in SB 287, may be in violation of federal HIPAA provisions.

Clean bills, unlike SB 287 simply let the adopted person receive their own birth certificate with no government intervention, like the not-adopted. A clean bill in Texas, unlike SB 287 would restore the right of OBC access that all Texas adoptees enjoyed until the mid-1970s.

When adoptees are denied the right to their own birth certificates our other rights can be endangered. Since‭ ‬9/11,‭ ‬especially,‭ ‬we are increasingly denied passports,‭ ‬drivers‭’ ‬licenses,‭ ‬pensions,‭ ‬Social Security benefits,‭ ‬professional certification and licenses,‭ ‬and security clearances due to discrepancies on our falsified government-created amended birth certificates,‭ ‬and inability to present true documents sealed by the state to remedy the problems.

Adoptees without a genuine original birth record could soon be barred from running for public office.‭ ‬At least‭ ‬10‭ ‬states, including Texas (HB 295) have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present their original birth certificates to appropriate authorities to prove citizenship eligibility for office.‭ ‬Some of these bills go farther,‭ ‬mandating anyone running for office to prove citizenship through an original birth certificate.‭ ‬It is no stretch to think that someday soon adoptees could be barred from voting due to lack of‭ “‬legal‭” ‬identity over problematic amended birth certificates,‭ ‬and the perpetual sealing of the originals.‭

‭If passed, ‬SB 287 with its restrictions and exclusionary rules, will guarantee that Texas adoptees will never be treated on an equal plane with the not-adopted. If passed, the damage done by SB 287 will take decades–if ever– to untangle.

‭The Texas legislature should take action now to assure that its adopted population is not subjected to public and private scrutiny and discrimination due to birth certificate irregularities and seals; that all Texas adoptees receive equal treatment, protection, and due process ‬Vote DO NOT PASS on SB 287. Kill this bill. Then come back with a clean bill that guarantees that all Texas adoptees will enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity.

Submitted by Marley Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization

March 21, 2011

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.

Up next on DMC’s “adoptee rights” agenda: “Kidnapping”

While there is obviously MUCH to be written about many of the personalities who will be appearing at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s (EBD’s) event at the Hard Rock cafe in Times Square tomorrow, as Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is being featured so prominently, it is perhaps important to take a moment to listen to what he actually has had to say in promoting the event in New York.

I had originally intended to write a post deconstructing the lyrics and music video DMC and Zara Phillips created, as despite co-opting the language of “adoptee rights” the song itself, which will be so featured in the event, is to it’s very core about adoption search, desire for reunion, and emotional yearning, all of which are firmly in the interpersonal realm, not the political realm.

The state cannot “give adopted people their mommies”.

It can only restore access to the document that contains accurate historical information about one’s birth.

Anytime the state deviates from that, be it through the creation of “reunion registries” or the imposition of “confidential intermediaries” to control (and possibly even veto) a reunion process, it has left the realm of adoptee rights and entered into the realm of building new structures distinct to the adopted class and our families. It fails to restore equal treatment under law to non-adopted people and abandons its fundamental obligation to adopted people: to hold in trust our documents created at a time when we were too young to act in our own interests and then restore them to us as we grow older.

As my partner, Mike Doughney explained yesterday in a post about the EBD event , it will feature:

The “world premier” [sic] of the two-year-old music video featuring McDaniels and Phillips that’s all about openness™ but that fails to convey the basic fact that opening birth certificates is a matter between adopted individuals and the state, not between them and their parents

(After reading this post, I strongly urge readers to read across to the link or the next post down on my front page, as Mike’s post offers a full deconstruction of the core of the EBD event.)

Due to time constraints and the way this material far outweighed my intended post though, I’ve superseded that analysis in favour of bringing this material to the foreground.

As part of the marketing effort for the Hard Rock event, McDaniels and Phillips made a recent appearance on NY1. Throughout the appearance, “adoptee rights” language cribbed from the authentic adoptee rights movement is completely interwoven with any number of often emotional nonsequitors irrelevant to the political issue at hand, that of the restoration of adoptees’ access to their state impounded original birth certificates.

McDaniels put his adoptee rights political inexperience up on display, wanting to take the issue up with President Obama despite the fact that restored original birth certificate access is very clearly a matter left firmly within the purview of the individual states.

But overwrought emotionalism and political naivete aside,  as the interview progressed something fell out of McDaniels’ mouth that even I never could have predicted:

“Me and Zara said we gonna get adoptees together and start kidnapping the parents of politicians that write the stupid law so they could feel it.”

Both Zara Phillips and the host ignored the stunning statement and simply continued on with the rest of the interview.

Let’s be clear, no genuine adoptee rights movement activist endorses the insane notion of kidnapping politicians parents.

We don’t utilize kidnapping as a tactic, period.

When McDaniels erupts forth with a diarrhea of the mouth moment like this he does not speak for us.

He is not our spokesperson, and should not be embraced by anyone serious about the cause of adoptees’ rights.

Now if an adoption industry created institute, such as the EBD wants to showcase him as one of their token adoptee voices, that is their business, but as for myself at least, I reject McDaniels and his espoused tactics as any part of the movement for the restoration of our human rights that I consider myself a part of.

Guest blog- He’s Not “Legit:” Adam Pertman’s adoption marketing is an ongoing threat to human rights

Today’s post is a special guest blog written by my partner, Mike Doughney, originally posted to his personal blog. Just to clarify, Mike is not an adopted person. He often describes his relationship to adoption as “Sleeps with Bastard.”


ebd-records-bullshit-updateI think it’s really bad form to start off a post with a dictionary definition, but unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people out there who are obviously not clear on the basics.

human rights, pl.n. The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled…

There’s that word in the middle: “all.” Human rights, if they are rights, apply to all people. A simple concept, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of adoption, various camps – primarily, the institutions that make up the adoption industry itself – have a lot to gain from complicating the simple things.

Let’s take Adam Pertman as today’s rather timely example. Pertman is the Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, which I’ll call “EBD” for short. What is this “Institute?” Take a look at their own website, and you’ll see what spawned it – an adoption agency, Spence-Chapin. Heck, the “Institute” is even named for the onetime president of this adoption agency:

The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 through the initiative of the Board of Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children, which saw a need for an independent and unbiased adoption research and policy organization. Evan B. Donaldson was a member of the Spence-Chapin Board of Directors continuously from 1977 on, serving as president from 1986 until her death in 1994.

I think it’s quite appropriate to laugh at those words, “independent and unbiased.” The EBD’s sole business is the promotion of adoption, providing backing for adoption agencies in general, while Spence-Chapin is still featured prominently on the front page of the EBD website as an “organizational partner.”

As for Adam Pertman, his book and his rhetoric hammer the same themes over and over, that the practice of adoption “for growing a family” must be somehow considered completely normal, societally normalized. His function is that of advocacy from the point of view of the satisfied customer. The problem with this is that such advocate-customers often seek to validate their past decisions by preserving and promoting the business that supplied them with a product or service. It is secondary to advocate-customers if the business is found to be doing harm in the process of providing that service, or is detrimental to the people who are integral to that product, only that the business continue to function to serve even more customers just like Pertman. Such advocate-customers can also be completely without a clue about details that are vitally important to others affected by such a business – in this case, Pertman ignores the actual details and history of the process of actually opening birth certificates to adoptees through legislation.

That the “product” here involves real live human children should in itself raise a few red flags. That Adam Pertman, an adopter and adoption promoter, is barging in and opportunistically seizing upon the language of adoptee rights that has historically been primarily the domain of adopted people themselves, crafted by the adoptee rights movement, should also raise some red flags, particularly among exactly those adoptees.

Adam Pertman has had a decade or so to appropriate the language of adoptee  rights for his own uses, making some inroads among some adoptees and adoption-related groups who are, inexplicably, supporting the latest spectacle created by Pertman and the EBD, including the AAC and CUB. Problem is, every time Pertman opens his mouth, he takes a simple issue – access to birth certificates for all adopted people, no exceptions – and complicates it beyond all recognition, subverting it so that, in practice adoptees end up being left behind. Pertman does not act as if he was concerned with a matter of gaining civil rights for each and every member of an affected group, which is not resolvable through legislation that makes that civil right conditional on the permission of others.

His lack of concern for actual rights is necessitated by his role as a marketer. His role is to promote the EBD and adoption through a number of methods. The promotional method that most clearly hampers adoptee rights is through EBD’s repeated practice of submitting and presenting testimony to state legislatures whenever legislation involving access to birth certificates is being considered.  Unfortunately, Pertman and EBD never address the merits or faults of the particular proposed legislation, but have merely carried and repeated from state to state the same canned presentation for the past five years or more. Testimony by Adam Pertman does not accomplish the actual work of convincing legislators to open birth certificates for all, but is primarily to raise his image and that of the EBD as “experts,” as providers of marketing-survey-based position papers that uniformly prop up adoption, which he repeatedly calls a “wondrous institution.”

The restoration of rights to adoptees is unrelated to this kind of glowing, and unwarranted, description of the adoption industry. Instead, it’s that kind of exaggerated language, the vague promise that adoptees might know the facts of their origins, and the outright confusion of birth certificates with seldom-specified “medical records” that complicate, if not sabotage, the relatively simple matter of restoring a basic civil right and equal protection under the law to adoptees. No one should be compelled to disclose personal medical information to others, even family members – in fact, it’s against the law – but the repeated, and completely irrelevant, pounding on the availability of medical histories is not germane to restoring the basic civil rights of all adoptees by restoring access to original birth certificates.

What, then, is Adam Pertman actually doing? Having been exposed to his empty rhetoric for years now, and his most recent endorsement of legislation (”we urge swift passage”) such as that now under consideration in New Jersey (A1406) which would permanently create sealed birth certificates for some individuals (link from June 2010), I’d say that Pertman isn’t interested in “rights” at all. What he’s pushing is what I’ve come to call openness™ in adoption, which is, first and foremost, a marketing position taken by the adoption industry, which is why I sarcastically add the italics and trademark to the word.

openness™ is not focused on individuals, so it actually doesn’t take the fact that individuals have rights that apply to everyone as a fundamental basis for policy. openness™ is, instead, primarily about preserving and growing the institution of adoption, through rehabilitating the public perception of adoption through marketing the idea that everyone involved in adoption will come to feel good about it, and about each other. It is about the relationships among the people involved with adoption, mediated, if not being the outright puppets of, the state and the institutions of adoption, including agencies and attorneys involved with adoption. All of this is to grease the rails so that more and “better” adoptions occur: parents, particularly mothers, must give up their children and their privacy of medical information, adopters get assurances that they’re receiving a quality product, and adoptees… well, if everyone else thinks it’s okay, they might get access to, perhaps, some portion of an official record of their origin, to which they have, under the openness™ model, no absolute right, merely the possibility of an arbitrary privilege of access.

It’s not surprising that self-described “Bastards,” with knowledge of history and experience with adoption politics, have a problem with this. Members of Bastard Nation, the adoptee rights organization, have successfully worked to open birth certificates to all adoptees in several states including Oregon in 2000. Recently BN helped hold the line against proposed legislation in Oregon that would have reversed that ten-year-old victory, limiting birth certificate access only to those adoptees “whose birth parent has filed a Consent to Release of Original Birth Certificate,” to quote from the proposed legislation. It is this kind of threat to the fundamental rights of adoptees that is enabled by the openness™ regime; when the right to access is not taken as absolute and inviolable, virtually any trivial objection by anyone else who was involved with or once participated in an adoption may be allowed to take precedence over that right.

This week, Adam Pertman and the EBD will be hosting an event in New York that they call “For The Records.” As with Pertman’s other activities, from reading the invitation on the EBD website, it’s not altogether clear how anything about this event will actually support advocacy of legislation that opens birth certificates for all adoptees. It’s more about the vague language of openness™, which is all about marketing the institution of adoption, not the reality of effective advocacy for open records legislation. And since it’s all about the marketing of openness™ and promotion of the institution of adoption as clean, wholesome and desirable, the event takes on the form of some kind of bizarre corporate promotion, complete with musical and comedic entertainment:

  • Oprah Winfrey, who is not going to be present, nor, as far as I know, is in any way substantially connected with Pertman or EBD, is named on the invite through reference to an “Oprah Winfrey Reunion Story” that we’re all supposed to already be familiar with. Those of us who aren’t completely transfixed by celebrities or who consider following the details of Oprah Winfrey’s life a waste of time might find this reference a bit mystifying, but I suppose such contortions on the part of this event’s promoters are absolutely necessary, lest they miss the opportunity to associate their brand with a public figure loved and followed by millions.
  • Appearances by two celebrities, rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Zara Phillips
  • The “world premier” [sic] of the two-year-old music video featuring McDaniels and Phillips that’s all about openness™ but that fails to convey the basic fact that opening birth certificates is a matter between adopted individuals and the state, not between them and their parents
  • Book signings of allegedly “just published” books by Adam Pertman  and Zara Phillips. Pertman’s book is a “revised and updated” edition of his “Adoption Nation” from 2000, Phillips’ is the US edition of her 2008 UK release. Like any other marketing-focused event, there are books and videos to be promoted.
  • A video by comedienne Alison Larkin, who likewise has a book to promote and a career to keep afloat.
  • Video from, and appearance of, filmmaker Jean Strauss, who is best known among some for her involvement with California CARE, and an abortive effort to introduce a bill there that would have taken a bad situation for adoptees in California, and made it much worse.  Strauss, author of a “guide to search and reunion,” likewise has a  number of DVD’s and books for sale on her website.

So if you’re keeping score, you’d know by now that of all the announced guests, only one has been involved with spearheading an organized legislative effort: Jean Strauss. But 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’.” This exactly matches the model of openness™ which likewise deliberately evades the fact that individuals have rights with respect to the state, that should apply to everyone. In the same letter, Strauss threw some unknown number of adoptees overboard, announcing that their goal was only “of providing access to original birth records for as many California adult adoptees 18 and older as possible.” From the looks of the proposed legislation, that would have been very few California adoptees indeed.

Adoptee rights activists who have successfully organized legislative efforts in states like Alabama, New Hampshire, and Oregon – where birth certificates are open without conditions – are nowhere to be found on this stage. That is as it should be, because what this event is about is marketing of everything else about adoption, particularly the mystique – to those who aren’t adopted –  of search and reunion necessitated by sealed records. The substance of equal rights for adoptees cannot be found amidst all the pontificating about how wonderful adoption is, and the selling of products. The language of equal rights may appear there, but only in service to the industry, and to the marketing: of videos, of books, of celebrities and their careers, of the position papers and testimony offered by Adam Pertman and his organization.

There’s a hint of where this leads, right there in the description of the event on EBD’s page, where they claim the event is about “the need for states to restore adult adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates” (my emphasis). This language is disingenuous with respect to human rights, as it points out a need for justice, but is not attached to an exact definition, a concrete plan,  demonstrated actions, or an organizational history that shows how those rights might uniformly be gained for all people. A perpetual need, never fulfilled, for such access may well fill a particular marketing niche among the promoters of the institution of adoption; it provides a subject to talk about, to gain entry into the halls of legislatures as well as the media, through a never-ending series of search-and-possibly-reunion stories made possible by the inaccessibility of birth certificates that document the historical fact of one’s birth. openness™, and its cousin, conditional access legislation, might grant birth certificate access to only a very privileged few adoptees. The passage of conditional access legislation is the legacy of EBD’s vague, unfocused advocacy and self-promotion.

A genuine initiative that actually worked to grant open birth certificates to all adoptees, across the board, would speak with clarity to act as a civil rights movement for adoptees. (Such a movement has long existed, but it won’t be participating in EBD’s spectacles.)  The vagueness and ineffectiveness of openness™, with much obfuscating talk of search, reunion and medical histories, builds upon ongoing, continued injustice, and mere talk of rectification, as a framework for perpetual marketing of the institution of adoption.  That is why Adam Pertman’s adoption marketing poses an ongoing threat to human rights.

Adoption Pentagon- terminology

Over the course of this blogging, I’ve had to rework or outright create new pieces of language to describe concepts core to the Bastard experience.

As with any human rights political movement, Bastards often find themselves confined and defined by language no rooted in their own perceptions of the world around them.

Constructing new and more accurate terminology to address those failures and linguistic constraints placed upon us then, is an inherently political act. An act by which one rejects the constructs defined by others external to Class Bastard, or even outdated previous means of describing adoptee reality and instead embracing a Bastard-centric lexicon that more accurately reflects what we ourselves, as a Class experience.

I’ve been using the term “Adoption Pentagon” since somewhere well before 2003, when I presented on it at Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization’s 6th annual conference, Show Me My Records held in St. Louis, Mo.

At approximately the same time, Ron Morgan also came up with his concept of “The Five Legged Stool.”

My “pentagon” was a response to the endless parroting of the term “adoption triad” which while useful to the industry and the state, is hardly a useful means for Bastards to envision their situations.

Instead, the Adoption Pentagon reflects the full range of parties/interests in and to the adoption:

pentagon

  • The Parents
  • The Bastard
  • The Adopters
  • A full range of industry and industrialist/careerist related positions: agencies,  lawyers, facilitators, intermediaries, lobbyists, social workers, adoption promoters/marketers, maternity camps, the commercial and non-commercial search industries, therapists (including junk psuedo-science “counselors,”) adoption ministries, etc.
  • & The State

Though mind you, any number of these positions may also overlap. An adopter may also be a Judge, a Bastard may go on to be become a legislator, a parent may go on to become a professional adoption marketer. This can lead to any number of either ethically disclosed potential conflicts of interest (possibly resulting in individuals recusing themselves) or disingenuously utilizing one’s position without disclosing that potential conflict of interest.

I should note from the outset one of the many limitations of the diagram, though.

Equal sided and angled pentagons may lead the reader to infer a set of equal power relationships in perfect balance, when nothing could be further from the truth.

With that basic form and the caveat always in mind, then, there are a number of different ways to conceptualize the adoption pentagon. To share just a couple of quick examples:

  • One can envision the alleged “triad” as the top three points of the pentagon, with the two other points, representing both the State and the industry/careerists as intentionally hidden below a waterline:

pentagon.waterline

  • Or one can simply work with the metaphor that those closest to the top hold much of the power in these relationships, and invert the pentagon, once again, placing the state and the industry/careerists at the top:

pentagoninverted

  • All too often, that adoption pentagon in practice, looks more like this:

pentagonpuppets2

Which is not to imply that each of the “triad puppets” has equal power, access to resources, or ability to control their circumstances relating to the adoption itself, as adopters are often in a far more advantageous position when compared in relation to the amount of control retained by both parents and adoptees.

Adopters after all, despite being manipulated in a variety of ways, are still ultimately the driving engine behind the adoption market itself (or at least their cash is.)


To explore my further elaborations upon the term “adoption pentagon,” please see my adoption pentagon tag, each of the posts thereupon contain at least a brief discussion of or utilization of the term.

This post, “Expendables”- the human toll of legislation that “compromises” us away, in particular goes into some detail relating to my rejection the so called “triad” as a false and information hiding psuedo-structure, a device used to hide the long term interests of those with genuine power.

As well as the critical strategic importance of embracing models that more accurately represent who holds genuine power, rather than maintaining any notion of the squabbling betwixt the all too often relatively powerless positions in the mis-labled triad, as such only serves to continue to hide the other players and their interests, and provides an all too convenient distraction.

*Updated* Important information regarding Oregon HB 2843

Measure-58

Yes, there is a bill in Oregon that if passed would gut the previous human rights victory that was Measure 58, effectively undermining the adoptee equality we fought so hard to achieve.

That said, take a deep breath, and don’t panic.

First of all, please read across to Bastardette’s blog post-

Oregon HB 2843: Hold Your Horses! Send Affirmative Letters

as she reports on some of today’s developments. A number of people have been working on this, including Helen Hill:

Helen Hill, chief petitioner for Measure 58, met with with Rep. Hunt and his aides this morning. Helen reports that their talk was very fruitful and highly positive. Helen will be meeting with Rep. Hunt again on Tuesday and feels that any escalation at this time would not be useful. If more action is needed after that meeting, she will let us know.

In the meantime, Helen requests that no “angry letters” be sent to Rep. Hunt, but…if you are an Oregon adoptee please write a note affirming the positive results of M58.

Rep.Dave Hunt@state.or.us

(* Update, Helen has since clarified with a comment about her meeting today on the post linking the Daily Bastardette here:

TO BE CLEAR! I did not meet with Rep. Hunt… I had a very brief meeting with the outer office people, who told me Hunt (who is Speaker of the House, by the way) was floating this bill at the request of a constituent. Two of the office people said “you don’t have to worry about this. it’s not going anywhere” or something to that effect. I left some written info.

I have a meeting at 1:45 this coming Tuesday with the legislative aid that is running with this. Ron Morgan is going to be there too, (YAY RON!) and any of you who are in the area and would like to come and discuss why this bill should be dropped, please do stop by Rep Hunt’s office next Tuesday.

so Helen has NOT met with Rep. Hunt at this point.)

Please note that they are only calling for contact  from those in OREGON or with a direct OREGON tie.

As she has pointed out, this is a time for Oregonian voices to be heard in defense of their own law.

Obviously, such a gutting of Measure 58 would affect us all, but right now, this is what the people on the ground most familiar with the situation are asking for.

I hope others will listen to that request. It comes from those who were directly involved in working to open Oregon in the first place, not politically inexperienced people. This is their home and they know the landscape.

Many people are blogging about this bill right now, but I hope others will listen to what those who brought Measure 58 in the first place are asking of the broader adoptee rights community right now.

Bastard-Nation-state-map

By way of the big picture, Mary Hunt Peret has a useful blog post up from last night, Soapbox: Preserving Adoptee Rights in Oregon describing some of the background history and symbolic and groundbreaking  importance of Measure 58 and the the significance of what the loss of such would mean to us as the broader adoptee rights movement.

I have also barely touched on writing about some of the history behind Measure 58 myself. See:

Adoptee Rights 101: Class Bastard and how to recognize a genuine adoptee rights bill

C.A.R.E.’s lie; writing adopted people out of our own history

and Adoptee Rights Demonstration / Day for Adoptee Rights some history and Gershom’s “storm”

as but a few examples.

In terms of staying up to date on what’s happening with HB 2843 (link opens a PDF):

littlebn-logo* Bastard Nation and a number of BN members are working against this bill. Keep an eye on the Bastard Nation Action Alert blog for any updates.

* Ron Morgan (who is also on the ground in Oregon) has set up oregonadopteerights as a communication portal. Please sign up there for further updates, and see the Action Alert.

It too, calls for contact from OREGON adoptees.

ACTION ALERT!

Are you an Oregon adoptee? HB 2843, introduced by Representative Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas) would violate your right to access your own record of birth and repeal Measure 58. Call Rep. Hunt TODAY to protect your RIGHTS!

Call Representative Hunt TODAY, at 503-986-1900, or email him at rep.davehunt@state.or.us and firmly but courteously state your opposition to HB 2843. Tell him:

* Your right to access your own birth certificate was affirmed by over 600,000 Oregon voters in 1998.
* In the eleven years since Measure 58 was enacted, 10,000 Oregon adult adoptees have been given copies of their original birth certificates without incident or problems.
* Oregon adoptees and their supporters are firm in their support of the current statutes and will not accept a return to the era of secrecy and lies in adoption!

* Finally, there is also a facebook page NO on Oregon HB 2843 where information will be posted.

Connecticut: Bastard Nation’s Letter in Opposition to HB 890

Monday, February 07, 2011

Connecticut: Bastard Nation’s Letter in Opposition to HB 890

Connecticut currently has two OBC access bills in the hopper. The first, HB 65 is a placeholder which has yet to be written. The second is HB 890 which would open OBCs prospectively for adoptees 21 years old and older adopted after January 2, 2012 contains a disclosure veto. HB 890 is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow before the legislature’s Select Committee on Children. We sent this letter opposing the bill to committee members this afternoon:

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization, is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, upon request, of their own true, unaltered original birth certificates (OBC). We oppose HB 890, a bill that would prospectively the OBC to adoptees, with disclosure veto restrictions, to persons 21 years of age or older, whose adoptions were finalized on or after October 12, 2012.

This bill is scheduled to be heard tomorrow, February 8, 2011 by the Select Committee on Children.

Bastard Nation. opposes HB 890, and urges you to vote Do Not Pass.

HB 890 creates a nonsensical tiered discriminatory system of OBC access for Connecticut adoptees based on their date of birth, date of their adoption finalization,and their birthparent consent.

HB 890 ignores thousands of the state’s adopted population who will still be unable to acquire their OBC, while at the same time creates a new class of adoptees not even born yet, who can acquire their OBCs unless their birthparent(s) object.

HB 890 creates a prospective new special “right” for birthparents that enables them to bar their adult offspring from acquiring their own birth certificates, a right that no other parent has.

In sum, HB 890 reinforces out-dated adoption secrecy. It does nothing to restore the right of unrestricted OBC access that all Connecticut adoptees enjoyed until 1974. It makes adoptee access to their own birth certificates a state/birthparent conditioned privilege separate and unequal from the right enjoyed by Connecticut’s not adopted who can acquire their own birth certificates unhindered.

Please vote DO NOT PASS on HB 890, and support a bill that mandates equal OBC access, without conditions, to all Connecticut adoptees, past, present, and future.

Sincerely yours,

Marley E. Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization

A note on the Bastard condition and authentic remedies

By way of a morning after comment, on my post last night, A few preliminary notes on the attempted cooptation of the adoptee rights movement by Mr. Pertman and the EBD, I realize that while certainly implied throughout, I’ve failed to mention how Mr. Pertman’s work completely fails to take into account any concept of Class Bastard- the concept of Bastards as a class of people denied equality by state statute.

These are not individual or isolated personal circumstances of inequality, they represent denial of equal treatment under law to a class of people.

Likewise, any proposed solution or remedy working towards genuine equality and the restoration of our fundamental human rights must also be grounded in the restoration of that class of people’s rights, not merely some.

The ‘Bastard condition,’ those Bastardized by the state and statute cannot be corrected through ‘personal solutions’ nor subsets being granted mere privileges at the whim of the state as the Bastard standing next to the privileged are denied.

Such simply creates multiple tiers of those who as a class are still merely divided out into subsets granted or refused access to their authentic history, identity, and state produced paperwork, it would represent a failure to accomplish justice. (As we have already seen play out in many states, but perhaps most deserving of a prominent mention Illinois.)

Under such deform measure scenarios, the ultimate control over access is retained by the state and doled out according to whatever the most recent fashion of who is deserving or undeserving is determined, more often than not an arbitrary process with undependable outcomes.

The genuine Bastard rights movement does not seek to retain the role of the state as gatekeeper, but instead seeks to re-establish and enshrine the fundamental human right into law, ensuring predictable and equal treatment to all, a right we previously enjoyed until it was stripped of us state by state.

Over the years I’ve written many posts about our status as that of a class of people, I suppose it was such a bedrock assumption for me at this point that in writing my post last night, I failed to elaborate on what to me was simply obvious. But for the sake of readers, it’s probably critically important to go back and ensure that context is also explicitly applied.

Likewise, just as I’ve written so often about the Bastard condition as a class condition, I have also written repeatedly about what any social justice based  remedy (legislative or otherwise) must look like in practice.

So as but two of many posts I’ve written to that effect, see Bastard Access- either we all go together or we don’t go at all- “Nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten” and Adoptee Rights 101: Class Bastard and how to recognize a genuine adoptee rights bill.

stitch-b.jpg

“Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.”