Thursday, April 16, 2009

California's AB 372: Let's CARE about Equality

California reformers are struggling with the age-old question of whether to support legislation with restrictions, such as a proposed amendment requiring that notice be sent to the last known address of the mother – which could likely be the unwed mothers’ home she stayed at during her pregnancy and delivery. If there is no response within 6 months, the adoptee is denied their rights.

I understand the long suffering reformers, like those in my home state of New Jersey, and cannot even begin to imagine the level of frustration seeing bills be defeated in committee year after year, decade after decade…but we must stand strong and committed to our cause and stay on track, united.

An interesting irony of N.J. is the recent judicial decision in the divorce case in which Bruce Springsteen is named in which Ocean County Superior Court Judge Patricia B. Roe, cited New Jersey's "tradition of open public courts," refused to grant Ann Kelly's motion to have the case sealed. Yes, divorce records with all the lies, innuendos and mud-slinging are open to the public!

Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records passed a Right-to-Know law in 2008, with a mission “to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials and members of the media in obtaining public records of their government." Dominic Pileggi, Executive Director of this independent office, pledged to “work tirelessly to ensure compliance with the law and to help citizens, government officials and members of the media better understand their rights and obligations. My goal is to apply this law fairly and evenly and, through this law, alter what I call the ‘culture of closedness’ that permeates government.” Unless, that is, you’re separated by adopted.

These examples make it abundantly clear that the issue is EQUAL RIGHTS. It is NOT about search and reunion. Not about emotional need to know. Not about heritage or any other feel-good issue. It is not even about medical records (which are protected by HIPAA Laws and cannot be obtained without personal request).

IT IS ABOUT EQUALITY. EQUAL RIGHTS. It is about ending discriminatory restriction that applies only to adoption separated persons, and RESTORING rights that were abrogated against all the best advise of adoption experts.

Focusing on search and reunion and medical need makes it an issue that pits one person’s rights against another’s because it effects more than one person. Equal rights is about the rights of each individual to be equal to that of every other individual.

The idea of "protecting" the alleged rights of persons who "voluntarily" relinquished ALL of their rights regarding another person, or had them terminated, is a bald-faced lie perpetrated by the adoption industry which works better under the cloak of secrecy and fears transparency, openness, and honesty in adoption practices. Freeing slaves hurt the economy - especially plantation owners whose livelihoods depended on it.

There is not one shred of evidence that any mother was ever promised anonymity. And, in fact, if her child were to remain in foster care and never be adopted, no rcords wopuld be selaed, no false, so-called "amended" birth certifcate issued. Even when an adoption takes place, in the vast majority of cases, those adoption - along with attorneys, social workers, court clerks etc. - all have access to the names of the relinquishing parents. Most adoptive parents have - on the adoption finalization papers, at the very least, the name of the baby they are adopting.

There is not one shred of evidence that the records were sealed in the first place to protect anyone other than adoptive mothers, and possibly the adoptee, no more than there is any evidence that unsealing adoption records increases abortions. All are lies and propaganda that - even IF they were true - have no place in a discussion of the HUMAN RIGHTS of persons separated by adoption.

The equal rights of those separated by adoption is an issue of family preservation because it is about preserving the rights of family members separated by adoption. Family preservation (definition in the column to the right) is about continuity of family connections and ending practices and policies that severe, dissolve, destroy, eradicate those ties or place any barrier on reunification.

Note, too, that I speak of the rights of "those separated by adoption" not just the adoptee. This is an issue of family preservationists and mothers' rights activists because mothers who lose their children to adoption also lose the right to see a birth certificate that applies to THEM as the party who gave birth! Hospital records of the birth, as well as agency records, social worker notes, judgements and evaluations of us - even some of what is given out liberally as "non-identifying information" - are OURS.

I have been addressing this issue since 1989 when I presented it at an AAC. I am presenting these issues again at the upcoming AAC on April 25 in Cleveland. I hope to see you there. If you cannot attend, watch these pages for a link to the presentation immediately following the conference. The presentation contains important strategizes for all working on "open records" and those who support the issue.


Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

Thank you for this very important post. Keep up your good work, Mirah. A mother who gives birth should get a birth certificate for the child she gave birth to, and I am appalled that she doesn't get one when that baby is relinquished to adoption. Every adoptee deserves the birth certificate that correctly validates her or his birth. Every adoptee deserves truth in documents pertaining to her or his life: birth, adoption, marriage, divorce. What part of honesty don't people understand?

AdoptAuthor said...

Mothers may today, but back in the days of maternity homes most did not. I myself have a copy of my daughter's birth certificate because I was not in a maternity home, BUT I have never been able to get a copy of any of my files of papers that I signed. I have tried for 40 years! In what other area of life in the US are you not entitled to a copy of something you signed??

We need to all work together - UNIFIED - on these issues, not be seen as adversaries in any way.,

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