Monday, June 14, 2010

A Day at the Trenton State House: Assembly Hearing on S799/A1406

Last edited 6/15/10.

I met up the group around 12:30. Some had been there since 11am.  At 1pm we headed upstairs to the hearing room where we waiting another hour not knowing if the adoption bill would be heard first, or the bill to remove the word "retarded" from all NJ statues and replace it with persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

They got to go first and I listened with compassion, thinking of my nephew who lives in independent housing, and my cousin who I am guardian of, as the advocates spoke of the pain being called the "R word" has caused them...but also with a tiny tinge of envy because their cause had no opposition. There point was well made: it's not about being PC, it's about respect.

They had a video presentation and made the point that throughout history, language has bene used to oppress, stigmatize and marginalize.

And then our turn came. Understand that this is three decades that Pam Hasagawa has liked the campaign with bills getting as far as committees or through one house, and then dies. Over and over and over again, year after year. Decade after decade. Compromises made and still killed.

Social workers, adoptees. adoptive parents. birth parents all testified in favor of allowing adoptees access to their own birth certificate (imagine that!).   The committee was knowledgeable, especially the chair, bur almost form the beginning one Assemblyman repeated at every opportunity that he preferred an "opt-in" clause to the contact "opt-out" option - already a compromise no one in favor of the bill wanted.

Then came the usual opposition: Other social workers ,agency and crisis pregnancy workers, NJ ACLU (who someone pointed out did not seem to understand the mission of the national ACLU), Right to Life, Catholic Charities, NCFA.

This was followed by another round of supporters of the bill.  OK, I admit to being biased, but the grassroots folk were far more prepared - Pam and Larry brought charts and graphs -and knew their material and were able to answer any question.  The opponents, however, sounded like hired hacks who had no clue. it was comical.

Adam Pertman was great.

The NJ Medical Society testified in favor; the Bar Association against.

The well informed chairwoman has a copy of NJ relinquishment form and asked over and over of each of the opponents: "What can you show me that indicates that mothers were promised confidentiality when I have in my hand a NJ relinquishment form and it says that they give up all rights for the minority years of their child."  Over and over she pointed this pit and asked them to respond and of course they couldn't except to say it's an "expectation."

But far more painful than hearing the paid hacks was the lineup of adoptees and birthparents - thanked by the ACLU and Right to Life ladies - who testified against the bill..."to protect birth mothers."

Over and over the same thing...the assemblymen saying: "We know it's a very small minority, but we are still concerned about protecting their right to privacy." 

It was draining.  I was the last to testify and after the vote we left at 7:30pm!!  But what drained me was the energy it took NOT to punch out the ACLU lady....and I am NOT a violent person, honest!

Oh, yes, note that absent were those who defame those who work so hard. I didn't see MaryAnne or Marley, or any representive of BN sitting there for more than six hours, from 1 to 7:30. They didn't do all the preparations: making charts and writing testimony, getting there, waiting to be called. The chronic complainers did none of that, as usual.

I did get to see a very old dear friend, Betty Allen who at 81 is still seeking her birth certificate and reminisced about the great songs she used to write and sing at rallies.

The vote

Four Republican assemblymen - including Mr. opt-in - abstained.

"The measure was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee by a 6-0 vote with four abstentions. It now advances to the full Assembly. It has already passed the state Senate."

Someone more knowledgeable with this procedure than I said it was the first abstentions he had heard in years...but better than a no. And so it passed the committee!  Their reasons were that they favored access but the bill needed more work - which in their opinion equated to more "protections" for birth parents rights (gag) and also concerns about no funds in the state budgets to advertise an opt-in or opt-out provision.

Next step is the full Assembly and then our republican pro-life Governor has to sign it.

How YOU can help

If you live in NJ...or are a birthmother from any state - PLEASE start now writing letters to the governor and telling him you were never promised anonymity and never expected it. You can email him here or: Office of the Governor PO BOX 001. Trenton, NJ 08625-0001.

My full critique of the bill, and details of what I DISLIKE in it, are in a March 26 post.

And here is a link to the news report on the Assembly's passage of the bill: "N.J. Assembly committee approves bill unsealing adoptees' birth records."

"The hearing drew scores of people who supported and opposed it in a five hour meeting."

The article details some of what tried my endurance:

"Susan Williamson of Woodbridge said she was testifying on behalf of her adopted daughter, a college student who doesn’t want to look for her birth parents. Her daughters feels "honoring her biological mother’s right to privacy is the very least she can do for the gift of life,’’ she said.

I was like - so don't look for her, but why testify against the bill?!

27 comments:

maryanne said...

Cheap shot, Mirah. No, I was not at the hearing, but it was not because I had not "done my homework", or didn't care, but out of respect for some NJCare members I still consider friends, even though I disagree with them politically. I was honoring a promise to one of these women. I was following my conscience by not attending, just as you were by being there.

I feel terrible that this bill is the one that has gotten so far, because I believe that at this time a clean bill would have done as well. If this bill fails, I still have hopes that a clean bill will rise again and I will enthusiastically support it.

Mirah Riben said...

Well, that was very decent of you MaryAnne, after you maliciously maligned those you called "deformers" all over the internet with many "cheap", childish and NASTY shots! When you give, with vicious, flaming, pejoratives as you have about those who have worked legislatively, you have to be prepared to get it back.

If you HAD been there you would not that a "clean bill: had no chance of getting as far as this one has. The protection of birthmothers' alleged right to privacy is very, very, very much alive and well in these people's minds!

The opposition is stronger in NJ than in any other state I know of. In other states the ACLU is silent to supporting. Here we have LOTS of opposition and their lies and lobbying are powerful and have been believed.

I am glad you chose to stay home and keep your opinions to yourself. I am glad to hear you have an ounce of respect for old friends. But let me tell you that you have hurt many of those old friends deeply and are considered a Judas.

Pam shared with me how far more painful it is to hear negativity form within our ranks than from all of the outside opposition combined. A statement I can painfully empathize with having been many times the target of such viciousness.

I hope you will continue to bite your tongue and remember what our mothers always told us and what you USED to believe in and preach in regard to BN opposing legislation:

Silence if golden. if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.

Mirah Riben said...

Let me reiterate my position with perfect clarity.

The NJ bill (and well as NY) is FAR from perfect. There are things in it I am opposed to including "requiring" mothers who opt-out of contact to provide medical information which I think is a violation of the intent of HIPAA and unenforceable. Requesting would be OK, but requiring is simply absurd. But of course, my position when I do speak to the legislators about it is that there should be no contact opt-out at all and this would be a non-issue.

I have expressed these concerns directly to NJCare (including a face-to-face with Larry) here on my blog, in letters to newspapers and to the legislators.

But I cannot in good conscience sit back quietly and have speaker after speaker claim to be speaking for or about the rights of mothers when I know this to be untrue.

I am first and foremost a mother of child lost to adoption. I will not allow others to speak for me and not speak out on my own behalf and call them liars if they claim that any of us were promised a damn thing other than that we'd forget and our kids would have a better life. I will always testify to the lies spoken about mothers who relinquished because it makes my blood boil.

THAT was why I was there. THAT, for me takes precedence over any minutia in the bill. I have ALWAYS (as you, MaryAnne once did too) believed that the bottom line is that access is an adoptee issue, not mine as a mother. My only interest in the issue is to clarify and make clear what we were and were not promised and not have LIES told about me.

I see both sides of the argument regarding clean bills versus compromise.

I am not convinced that laws cannot be changed incrementally because they have been.

I do not know that pulling bills that are "impure" and leaving ALL without a shred of hope is the right answer or solves anything.

So, since I don't know, I don't get involved and take a high and mighty stand one way or the other. I leave it up to those who work their asses off and who sit with the legislators and get a feel for what their issues are and hear what they need in a bill to pass it.

If someone says you can have what you want if you give me a one in return, sometimes it;s the wiser thing to do than to not get what you want. *** That's how politics works and to believe otherwise is to be totally naive.***

Our cause is not as feel good and as free of opposition as that of ARC, advocating for the disabled. That too is reality.

The choice is to deal in the real world with reality and what it is - or to live pie-in-the-sky la-la-land of hopes and dreams and hope that in some future we would ever get a clean bill passed in Nj...and in the meantime, how many adoptees and mothers will be dead? It's a hollow victory to find a grave.

Will our grandchildren have clean open access?
It's been THIRTY DAMN YEARS in NJ!

If you were: (1) an adoptee; (2) not yet found; and (3) there day in and day out for those 30 years, MaryAnne, you'd be exhausted and willing to accept compromise as well...and THAT has been my position all along about those who are not DOING but are complaining about those who are!

You are NOT an adoptee AND you've been reunited. This bill does not effect you. Why not let those who it does effect and who have put in the sweat equity do whatever they feel they need to do...

Mirah Riben said...

The details of my concerns about this bill are spelled out in a March 26 post:

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/03/nj-legislation-may-have-wide-spread.html

Anonymous said...

Compromising means that you agree with the "birth mother privacy" myth.

As my a-mom used to say: "If you can't do something right, don't do it at all."

Equality has NO COMPROMISE because it's the same as everyone else.

Mirah Riben said...

I was taught to try, try again and to do my BEST...which need not be perfect. "E" for effort and all that.

But not to worry - the repubs hate it and we now have a GOP PRO-LIFE Gov in NJ, so it will no doubt get killed yet again...

And...nobody wins! Hooray! We can all die with our principals intact and adoptees' birth certificates SEALED! Victory?

Ya' know, slaves got freed and it it took how long after that until they could vote, or drink from the same water fountains...or to desegregate schools?

Baby steps...

Sometimes ya gotta crawl before you can walk.

These backward ASSES here in NJ just cannot and will not stop drinking the opposition kool aid.

BD said...

Once again: Bastard Nation's testimony was submitted in writing to the Human Services Committee on June 2. You can read it at http://bastardnation.blogspot.com/2010/06/bastard-nation-new-jersey-a1406s799.html We hae also written to Gov. Christie.

Mirah Riben said...

Yes, I assumed as much... and that's fine. Bastard Nation has always been in favor of UNRESTRICTED ACCESS as a civil rights issue, as it SHOULD. I admire that and support it.

The fact is, however - and the reality that needs to be accepted - is that there are staunch firm supporters at either end of the spectrum who will never budge an inch or change their opinions. Right to Life is not about to ever support any access bill nor is the NCFA...and in NJ neither is Catholic Charities. (ACLU MAYBE if someone new gets in charge they would just be silent on the issue.)

So the legislators are faced year after year knowing that they can never create a bill that will satisfy all and they are CLEARLY attempting to placate as many as possible and anger as few as possible KNOWING - and they said these exact words - that it is less than a perfect bill for all sides.

And as I said -- that's politics.

I went through a contested divorce. When two parties divorcing cannot agree on the property settlement or custody issue, a judge decides. Both sides are warned in advance that when a judge decides it will be a compromise. Neither side will get everything they want. Both sides will likely be upset with the end results. Because that what compromise is about. You can watch it on TV every day on Judge Judy, Judge Joe brown, etc., etc...No court decsion pleases both parties.

And that's how legislation gets passed.

We Need BN in there voicing a call for UNRESTRICTED ACCESS as a civil right. It is an opinion I share wholeheartedly! It is vital! Without we would have nOTHING.

The legislators KNOW that that is our true desire and that anything less is a major compromise for our side. They know it and need to be constantly reminded of it.

What we do NOT need is the name-calling and disparaging of HARD WORKERS who give of themselves and their time and their lives to go to these legislators IN PERSON and work and work for years on end with no compensation whatsoever.

If you can tell me what purpose the name-calling serves, I'd love to hear it.

We should be thanking them not knocking them, IMHO.

We should see one another as what we are: allies, working toward the same goal.

Some of you instead make it seem as if these local activists are themselves asking for these compromises not accepting them. I cannot speak for other states, but in NJ I know that NJ CARE would surely prefer a clean bill, and in fact it is the compromise that will kill this bill if anything does because the state does not have the budget to fund it. A clean bill would cost nothing. People would simply PAY the state for their OBCs.
But the old boys GOPS will never accept that it isn't harming some little old lady somewhere....just one invisible, imaginary POSSIBLE harm...that has never happened in any state or country that has opened the records...and they say it over and over and over again...

I will also say - AGAIN - that I think it is sad that BN isn't more powerful and doesn't have more volunteers and funds to be able to train people in every state and work WITH them on strategizing. They should have local branches and be able to send representatives to testify in person. You know that the legislators are not unaware of that fact wither and weigh it. It is obvious that BN is not a strong organization with a huge membership to support them or they would have had a in-person rep there or at the very least anyone testifying as even a MEMBER of BN.

I think that BN should make very effort to try to rebuild as a powerful force. I would like nothing more.

Mirah Riben said...

...and maybe, just maybe if BN was less mean an nasty in their opposition...less argumentative and more supportive and agreeable with others working toward the same goal...then, maybe, just maybe they'd have more members... ??

It is possible to be unwavering in one's beliefs and yet still be RESPECTFUL. BN does not have a reputation for being cooperative, helpful or respectful of local grassroots activists and that is a shame and their loss which in turn is a loss for all adoptees.

It is NOT respectful, however, IMHO, to simply not showing up in person but slam those you call friends and their hard work online.

The Improper Adoptee said...

THIS is outright bigotry. THIS is an outright lie. THIS is a reflection of how INSANE Church Clergy is. And THIS tries my endurance. This remark, really, pisses me off. I hope you come back in your next life as a stolen baby and you spend 100 years never knowing who the hell you are Susan Williamson, and it makes you cry every day. And I hope somehow, I GET TO WATCH!

"Susan Williamson of Woodbridge said she was testifying on behalf of her adopted daughter, a college student who doesn’t want to look for her birth parents. Her daughters feels "honoring her biological mother’s right to privacy is the very least she can do for the gift of life,’’ she said."

maryanne said...

Since Marley and I would have spoken in opposition to a bill you are supporting, why are you so sorry we were not there? To get "our fair share of abuse" perhaps? I do not seek public confrontation but have made it clear where I stand.

You have inspired me to be more publicly outspoken though, here is my letter to the Star Ledger:

To The Editor:

I am a mother who gave up a child for adoption in NJ. I resent your speaking for me and others like me in your recent editorial. Adopted adults should be able to request their original birth certificate just as we non-adopted citizens can, with no need for permission from anyone, including the natural mother.

Sadly the bill now under consideration does not do this, so in its present form I cannot support it, much as I would like to be able to. There should be NO NEED to ask permission of me for my son to request his own original birth certificate if he wants it. Rather than worrying about notifying birthmothers about this bill, which will cost 90 thousand dollars at a time our state is in fiscal crisis, the bill should be amended so that adopted adults pay a nominal fee to vital statistics to request an uncertified copy of their OBC and get it, no extra cost to the state, no intrusion into personal relationships that can be worked out in private.

I was never promised confidentiality or anything else by the state when I surrendered my son. He is an adult in his 40s now and should not have to ask my permission for anything. Nor should any exchange of private medical information between us have to go through a third party, the state. As adults we can handle that quite well on our own.

Adoptees deserve the human right of access to their original birth certificate with no conditions or permission.

Mirah Riben said...

That's a fine letter MaryAnne. I fully agree that contact vetoes are BULLSHIT. There are in fact other aspects of this bill that i do not like - that I feel violate HIPAA's intent.

However I choose not to oppose it while pointing these spects out.

But that's fine. To each his own. I have no problem with you or anyone expressing their opinion.

The only thing I objected to MaryAnne was the nastiness and name calling.

I never said that I was sorry that you or Marley were not there. I merely pointed out your absence on view of the fact that you both seem to have expressed strong feelings about the bill.

YOU used the word 'sorry' to say: You are sorry Pam is hurt, but....

I did not use that word.

You also said:

"I was not at the hearing ...out of respect for some NJCare members I still consider friends, even though I disagree with them politically. I was honoring a promise to one of these women."

Was your respect and the promise you made limited to not to opposing the bill in person at the hearing?

Anonymous said...

I support this bill and have a great respect for the voluntary efforts of those who did not give up.

Before Rosa Parks could claim that seat on the bus - she had to be on the bus. I hope the operation of this new law will inform the public regarding how necessary it is to treat everyone born in NJ equally. The education and the lobbying will not stop with this bill. At some point every 18 year old will get their OBC.

Meanwhile the bill has other good points - like giving adoptive parents information they should have. The offensive disclosure veto has a 12 month limited duration.

Support this bill - draw distinctions as appropriate and educate about what might be better, but support the bill.

If anyone is working to get a clean bill introduced next I'll help you as available.

C. Swett, member NY and NJ bars
Bronx County Adoptee

Anonymous said...

Mirah, How can you tell people to keep it "clean and respectful" when you respect no one's opinion but your own? You never have and you never will. I DARE anyone to require or mandate a medical/psycho-social history from me. It will be challenged in a court of law, immediately. I'm with Marley and Maryanne on this one.

Mirah Riben said...

Anon,

I welcome all opinions. I have printed Marley and MaryAnne's comments. I disagree with their opinion, but I welcome them and anyone else to express theirs and to agree or disagree with one another as well as with me, as long as we all avoid personal attacks and flaming...which I myself am guilty of at times and must delete my own comments sometimes when my buttons get pushed! :-))

Keep it "clean" means no curse words, and I do not believe I have violated this request.

Secondly, I totally agree with you totally regarding the requirement of medical information and have said so here and elsewhere. It is impossible to require anyone to be truthful when relating such information. However, if NJ since 19977 or 79 there has been a 14 page form that shares the medical and social history of the mother and father and is given to all adopting parents. I believe it absolutely SHOULD be challenged as violation of the intent of HIPAA. The form is signed by the receiving adoptive parents, but there is no release by birth parents for this information to be shared.

I met in person with NJCARE to discuss my concerns with this very issue and my concerns about this appear in the following posts:

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/06/adoptees-deserve-equal-human-rights.html

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/04/nj-convolutes-adoptee-and-birth-mother.html

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/03/nj-legislation-may-have-wide-spread.html

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/03/adoption-access-laws-and-policies-are.html

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/03/lessons-learned-from-defeat.html

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2009/11/equal-access-modest-proposal.html

And more...

Finally, MaryAnne will want to address this herself but I am not certain that she objects to this aspects of the bill and I believe that the has stated that she does not believe it violates HIPAA. If I am incorrect and unintentionally misinterpreting her views, I trust she will correct me.

maryanne said...

I have no idea if the bill violates HIPAA, nor do I especially care. I have no objections personally to any of my kids, those I raised or the one I surrendered, having access to any of my medical records. This is just not a big issue for me. I would be more worried about insurance companies getting their hands on medical records and denying coverage than my kids doing anything with my medical records. They know everything that is there anyhow. I would not send medical records to a third party like the state, though. Who knows who gets to see them before they reach the adoptee?

I do not think that medical records should be in any way connected to an OBC access bill. Medical records have nothing to do with the OBC. I do not think it is right to extort mothers who do not want to be found to provide medical records in exchange for a veto. This whole issue could be avoided by having a simple open records bill, no vetoes, no medical records involved. I do not think this aspect of the NJ bill is fair or would work but do not have the legal expertise to know how it affects HIPAA laws, which I do not think are so great anyhow, especially for the parents of adult mentally ill kids.

This is a whole other topic, but several of my friends are in this situation and not being able to know what is going on with seriously mentally ill kids because of these laws does nobody a favor and cause unneeded heartache.

Mirah Riben said...

"This whole issue could be avoided by having a simple open records bill, no vetoes, no medical records involved."

On this we ALL agree!

I do not know either if these requirments vilate HIPAA law, but I beieve they violate its intent. (ACLU thinks they do, but then NJ-ACLU opposes access.)

I believe it is a moral obligation to share family medical history. But I believe that every person has a right to share as much or as little as they chose. I also believe it is immoral to refuse contact when found - but people do it every day and that right is protected.

Some of the "records" that adoptees seek access to include counseling with social workers prior to placing. These I see as very confidential. I think if a mother was considering abortion, or shared that she has previous abortions, these are not relevant medical history and should be her cHOICE whether to share or not with any of her living, raised or relinquished. Also if she smoked pot, or if she was raped...any number of things that would not effect her children's health and are simply none of their business, or re best told face-to-face and read about where pre-judgments can be made.

It's about OBC and it's about EQUALITY. Our raised children do not have access to our medical or counseling records nor we to theirs.

As far s mentally ill parents or children - if they are ill enough to be declared mentally income-tent, then their guardians DO have access, as I have for my cousin for whom I am guardian and make all of his medical decisions.

Others, if they are still competent have the same rights as all other citizens...lest we revert back to the days of forced institutionalizations and forced sterilization etc. I understand it can be painful...I live with that issue as well. My daughter is ill and picks and chooses what she wants to tell me, and I worry. That's life.

And adoption is part of life and should be subject to the same rules. That's called equality.

As it is adopters know too damn much about their kids' mothers. One of the reasons mentioned in the sealing of NJ NJ OBCs was to protect the adoptive family from "intrusion' from birth family and from being blackmailed.
Where's oUR protection from being blackmailed?

I beleive that adoptes should have full acces just as all other citizens do - at whatever age other sin their state can get their OBC...and then ASK their family for medical info face-to-face just as all other citizens do and get what you get or not, just as all of us. If our parents die before were able to ask them for whatever reason - or parents who abandoned where no adoption takes place, than that is what it is. There are many many reasons people do not share and others do not have medical history.

Anonymous said...

My argument has nothing to do with my children having acess to my medical history. It is having my personal information reach the hands of the state and those who have adopted these adults as children. I really don't care about those who, in the past 13 years, have submitted this information..too bad for them. But making that requirement retroactive is invasive and clouding the issue. The issue is NOT medical history, and it is NOT even reunion. It is about the rights of all people to know their heritage and for all people to know the welfare of their blood relations. A simple need requires a simple, clean bill.

maryanne said...

maryanne wrote:"This whole issue could be avoided by having a simple open records bill, no vetoes, no medical records involved."
Mirah replied:
On this we ALL agree!

We may agree, but by continuing to support this bill, you are supporting the piece about medical records as well. Sad to say we cannot support part of the bill, because it is the whole thing that is going before the assembly and the governor.

No matter how much I like Pam or others as people, this is a bad bill and has to be stopped so that a clean bill can be introduced again another time.

I agree with the last anon, a clean simple bill is the only one I will support, and the only way to get rid of the medical records extortion and other extraneous garbage that has not appeased our enemies one bit, for all the bending over backwards to them NJ Care has done.

Mirah Riben said...

My reason for NOT OPPOSING the bill is not based on friendship. Pam and I have never socialized or even communicated as "friends." I know her simply in relation to her work on NJ legislation.

My decision to NOT OPPOSE is based on a commitment I made decades ago never to oppose any bill. I might not support it, but I won't oppose it. The origins I co-founded had that policy and last I heard origins-USA does as well.

I made and uphold that commitment for the following reasons:

- Because of the REALITY of politics that always involves compromise that I spoke of above (See my comment of June 15, 2010 6:12 AM). It's how things work in the real world - ideal seldom exist.

- Because of the number and power and strength of the opposition is here in NJ - unlike other states. Other states have ACLU on their side or at least silent.

- Because of a THIRTY YEAR history and my *respect* for those who put in that time because they did and more importantly because I *respect* the fact that they have their finger on the pulse of the legislators FAR BETTER than anyone else AND because they are adopted and I'm not, and so if they are willing to accept this compromise it is not my place to object.

I am not happy with the contact veto or with the medical requirement, but I will not stand in the way of adoptees getting what they have put in sweat equity and worked for and deserve.

I have NOT OPPOSED but have made my objections clear to NJCARE, and in letters to editors and to the legislators in my written testimony.

I do not oppose it because I believe it is is better than nothing and I believe in incremental laws and will continue to work for unrestricted access long after this bill is passed - IF it is, which I hope but doubt.

So come on all of you who believe in unrestricted access in NJ - introduce a new bill...get it into and out of committee, still "clean"...go ahead...no one is stopping you from doing that and putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

Being a purest is fine, but I do not understand why no one getting any access is better...

No one has to agree with my decision. It is my personal choice.

Mirah Riben said...

In addition to all the reasons above, are those opposing this legislation aware that mothers have TWELVE MONTHS from the passage of the bill to request non disclosure of their ID and to make a contact PREFERENCE, but not a veto.

JUST TWELVE MONTHS. If a mother does not proactively contact the state within the time period, that's that. She also has the right to rescind that decsion at any time.

*** ONE YEAR AFTER PASSAGE THE BILL IS CLEAN, UNRESTRICTED ***

From what has occurred in other states a very tiny percent of mothers have taken advantage of such vetoes.

Here's a link to the bill. Read it. Go to this link and enter S799.

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByNumber.asp
June 17, 2010 8:00 PM
Mirah Riben said...

The part of your letter to the editor, MaryAnne, that reads:

"There should be NO NEED to ask permission of me for my son to request his own original birth certificate if he wants it"...
is really is inapplicable. As I read and understand the bill - no one needs anyone's permission but some mothers can opt out during the first 12 months.

This is how I read it. If you can show me wording contrary to that, please do so. perhaps I am incorrect...it would be far from the first time.

maryanne said...

I was not speaking literally of my son in that letter, as you know he has no interest in any of this, just using it as an example.

The bill, which I read again carefully, says that mothers can file a disclosure veto in the 12 months after the bill is passed, after an extensive campaign to advertise this option. This means that the adoptee whose mother has filed such a veto, and returned it with her mandatory medical history, will get an OBC with her name and address blanked out. For those whose mothers file these vetoes, this does NOT become a clean bill after 12 months.

There is also a permanent disclosure veto for Safe Haven adoptees, even when the mother's identity is known/

There is a second piece to the bill where mothers can also file a contact Preference form, with the choice of no contact, direct contact, or contact though an intermediary.

Nobody knows how many vetoes will be filed, but that is not the point. By not filing a veto, mothers give permission by default to release their names. It is NOT a right if all NJ adoptees cannot just request their OBC and get it. To get a feeling of what it is like to be the unlucky adoptee whose mother has filed a veto, read Triona Guidry's blog http://73adoptee.blogspot.com/

When you are the one left out in the cold, the law does not look so great.

Mirah Riben said...

Neither I nor anyone ever claimed the bill to be pefect. It's a COMPROMISE and a very convoluted, pretty sucky bill.

But history tells us that a very minute percent of birth mothers ever file vetoes on any state. And yes, it is very sad indeed for those adoptees who will never get their info - even if it is only one. But on the other side you have those voting the bill into law who are concerned about the possibility of even one mother "being devastated." We know it's a non issue but after 30 years they aint about to change.

Are you aware the white-out clause has been in the bill for more than 20 years and possibly since the onset?

I guess that's part of the reason I am surprised that someone like you MaryAnne, from NJ, who never opposed it before are now.

But that's your choice as it is mine not to oppose it, as lousy as it is. if this is what those who worked on it want...I, as a non-adoptee, am not going to oppose them.

maryanne said...

Just a little correction, several of those in leadership positions in NJ Care are birthmothers, not adoptees. Judy Foster comes to mind.

No, I did not know a mandatory whiteout was in the bill for 20 years. If you say so....I do not feel like researching that now. Had I known I would have opposed it earlier.

As you said, your choice to support, mine to oppose.

Mirah Riben said...

My choice is to NOT OPPOSE.

maryanne said...

Wow, for someone just "not opposing" this bill, you sure are expending a lot of time and energy supporting it, including a trip to Trenton which is never easy and numerous blog posts, including the latest urging people to write to the governor to sign the bill.

When I was "not opposing" NJ legislation I just ignored it, said nothing. Then I got pissed at the misleading title of "adoptee birthright bill" and started actively opposing it, by writing about it on the internet.

It seems to me you are actively supporting it by doing the same thing...why deny it?

Mirah Riben said...

For the umpteenth time: Because you are youy and I am me. You do things your way and I do them mine.

What pushed me into being more vocal about this bill was very obvious: It was those name-calling those who worked so hard on it! I felt a need to defend the work that has gone into this bill over the past THIRTY YEARS - MOST OF MY LIFE!! To see that being denigrated was extremely upsetting and swung me into action.

I read it and disagree with some of it. I express my disagreement when testifying and writing. But I support the basic principle of adoptee access to the OBC and this is a step toward that. I assume you will read my more recent post about incremental legislation.

I support everyone's right to follow their heart. I do not support slamming, defaming, and deforming other's efforts. That incensed me in it's unnecessary meanness and very childish public name-calling.

I don't know the details in IL. If that was their first or second effort, they probably should have pulled the bill. But you can state that without mocking people and their names. We are fighting for the right to our name as part of one's identity.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

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RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

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Bitter Winds

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Adoption Truth

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