Monday, July 26, 2010

National Equal Access Protest? May 2011?

 In 1989, I was one of the organizers of a march on Washington DC for Equal Rights for adoptees that drew more than one hundred people! I was on the board of the AAC and organized the Speak Out, giving voice to adoptees and mothers to express the personal tragedies caused them as a result of lack of access.





CAN WE DO IT AGAIN? 

We organized the 1989 march BEFORE the Internet existed...so why not?

Yes, adoption is a state issue...but so is same-sex marriage and they do a LOT of work to gain NATIONAL support about their issue and the hardships discrimination causes.
We need to do the same - raise public consciousness to this issue.

Most people have no idea that adoptees are issued FALSIFIED birth certificates.

If we plan long enough in advance...say the May of 2011 (?) and don't go through with it until we have 100 CONFIRMED participants...but with a goal of ten times that!

I envision a HUGE event that draws lots of media to out cause, nationwide.

Some signs I'd like to:

I'M CITZEN
I VOTE
Denied my own Identity
---

BORN in the U.S.A
But I can't get a Passport

----

STOP
Adoption Discrimination

----

Adoptees Are People, Too!

----

Why is my
Birth Cerifcate
A STATE SECRET?

----

END 
Adoptee Discrimination

----

EQUAL RIGHTS
4
ADOPTED PERSONS

----

Falsified
Birth Certiciates =
State Committed Fraud

------

Also, as we did in '89 - state signs


Would you be there?


Louisville, 2010

36 comments:

Christine said...

Let me be the first to say....Count me in! :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think a march on Washington would get a lot more press than the protest at the NCSL. What we need is public exposure and so far there is the sound of crickets...

Von said...

Certainly if you weren't on the other side of the pond and I wish you the best of luck.

Mirah Riben said...

Well...NCSL is IN DC. Are there ant plans in motion?

Margaret Susan Hoffman-LyBurtus said...

If I can get a cheap airfare, I will be there!
I am the mother of a daughter surrendered in the "baby scoop era" one of the "Girl's who went away" in high school. I am a 20 yr supporter of family preservation and equal access to original birth certificates for adopted individuals and their families. It is time legislators change inhumane laws that seal birth certificates in all but 6 states and do not allow people the basic human right to ones own identity. Who better has a right, than the people concerned?

Margaret Susan Hoffman-LyBurtus said...

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

~ Proverbs 21:21

Anonymous said...

In addition, I think there needs to be demonstrators on the street before, DURING AND AFTER every state legislative hearing.
There's always local, statewide and national media hanging around state capitals waiting for a scoop. Lets give it to them.
Let people know what's going on inside.
Let people know the results of our efforts.
Let EVEYONE know how we are discriminated against AND how ignorant our legislators ARE when it comes to adoption law.
Many just don't know, and are shocked to learn the truth of the mythical "birthmother confidentiality", it just doesn't exist anywhere in federal or state law.

Mirah Riben said...

Early planning, especially setting a date, would allow all of us to make the least expensive travel plans.

State demonstrations are important, too...but will never have the numbers we need and should be able to get nationally. If you've got a poor turnout you do not get the publicity. News networks ignore tiny demonstrations. If they do cover they mention the poor turnout and it doesn't look good.

If advertised well, on FB and elsewhere, and press releases submitted, etc. it could additionally serve the purpose of educating and bringing into the fold adoptees and their birth and adoptive parents who have been afraid, or didn't know how to speak out for their own rights.

It's got to be announced like The Million Man march, or many of the Gay Rights demonstrations. It's got to BIG - HUGE - or not at all.

Anonymous said...

How about having a protest on "National Adoption Day" in November? We can have a "National Anti-Adoption Day".

cedartrees said...

When I read the title of this post, being from Canada where it does mean such things, I anticipated an article about equal access for adoptees and natural mothers. But i see it means access for adoptees only. Not for mothers as well. Too bad that there is so little will in the American adoption reform movement to achieve what we have here in several provinces in Canada. Am I right in assuming that natural mothers in the U.S. get behind adoptees for equal records for adoptees, but are not at all interested in open records for themselves as well? I recently was told that an organization for natural mothers took a step back from this official position, of open records for natural mothers, to supporting adoptee-only access. Looking at the website, i can't see anything there any more about support for equal access for mothers and adoptees, so it looks that way.

What is your opinion on this, Mirah?

Mirah Riben said...

Because the weather in November is not conducive for an outdoor demonstration in Wash DC. Also anti-adoption is not a great message to attract the masses and get public support. It's about EQUALITY and ending discrimination.

Mirah Riben said...

Cedar,

I support equal access for all adoption-separated people to the original birth certificate. Our legislators will not hear it! i have sat for hours and hours at legislative hearings only to hear them deny adoptees access based on the belief that SOME mother MIGHT POSSIBLY be upset to be "outed".

It's an uphill battle that's we've been waging in NJ for THIRTY YEARS and we still hear the BS about protecting the alleged "promises" made to us mothers!

I do this as taking one step at a time. If we could just get the majority of US lawmakers to understand the need of adoptees...and see that mothers are not harmed by it...then the next step I'd seek is to end all falsified BCs going forward.

I would certainly support any org's efforts at bilateral access, but personally feel it is not the best use of our very limited time, money and energy except that it all adds to the education of the public, hopefully. In that sense, it's all good and we should all support all efforts, IMO.

Mirah Riben said...

I also have to say that now, as in 1989, it seems more mothers are willing to put their time, $$ and energy into these efforts than are adoptees! SAD how intimidated they are to bit the hand that feeds them or to appear ungrateful.

Anonymous said...

Mirah...you have NO idea the amount of head games adoptees deal with their entire lives. I am so sick of mothers bashing us. You have NO idea how f'd up it is to BE adopted.

Mirah Riben said...

Stating the FACTS and saying it is SAD is NOT "bashing." It is stating the very sad result of being adopted.

Anonymous said...

Cedar...Considering the issue at hand is EQUAL ACCESS to OBCs for adoptees, I don't see where acccess for nmothers is part of the discussion.
Unless the nmother is in fact adopted, she already has access to her OBC.
Not to bash on mothers, but they aren't being held hostage by the state on behalf of the adoption industry. They aren't being denied passports or "enhanced" drivers licenses, among other things.

Search and reunion is a whole different issue, and needs to be divorced from the EQUAL ACCESS of records as the Constitution prescribes.
EQUAL FOR ALL CITIZENS.
Search and reunion is the ammunition that the industry uses to oppose us. Complicating the issue with outside concerns just slows down the process.
Search and reunion falls under "freedom of association", restoration of basic civil rights is about just that, the RIGHT to know the truth of MY own birth event.

And I'm sorry Miram, but since the states make the laws, nothing national will cut it outside of a supreme court decision stating the current laws as unconstitutional. As it stands, the state needs to be held accountable, and that cannot happen at the national level unless and until the constitution is upheld once again as the law of the land.

I'm not talking about a few stragglers in one or two states, I'm talking about a network of grassroots activists coordinating with house and senate hearings and committees across the country. We have the internet to communicate, and more people can afford to drive to their state capital than can afford to make it to DC.

I was just at the Louisville protest, and I could afford to do a lot more at a local level than on a "working vacation" hundreds of miles away. I enjoyed being there and being a part of the march, but many legislators were avoiding us until the actual conference began. Then our booth was swamped from opening to close.
BIG national media is only part of the answer.
It's a daunting task, but not impossible.
It takes dedicated people to cause change in the law, and it takes focus on where the laws are created and enforced. The states.
It is imperative that we ENCOURAGE all members of the triad to be active at ALL levels of government, not just the limelight of national media. To discourage ANY level of activism is unacceptable IMO. It takes us ALL to make this right, and no effort should be considered "not big enough".
That's where the lack of adoptees you refer to came from. Those who don't think they can do ENOUGH to make a difference.

Dan in MI

Mirah Riben said...

Dan,

I am not suggesting federal legislation. I KNOW full well - AS I SAID - that adoption laws are made and changed at a state level.

I am talking about the POSSIBILITY of a large gathering to gain support for our issue and to educate the public and adopted persons about our issue. Size is important in terms of getting media coverage, whether you think so or not. Locally, the aim is to influence legislators and a small contingent can accomplish that. I am NOT and never have discouraged those efforts and in fact participate at a state level myself. But that is not what I am talking about in this post and this suggested demonstration. Two different goals - both important. It;s not an either or - it's both and all.

Obviously, not everyone would be able to attend for various reasons, travel costs being one. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried IMO.

I have also said that I support access to the OBC to all who are named therein. While no one is arguing that adoptees suffer a greater loss in loosing their identity than their mothers do, many mothers have been denied any proof that they have a child. Equality of access means that ALL adoption-separated persons should be treated equally to non-adoption separated persons and any persons should have access to a document on which they are named.

So, in the end I totally agree with your conclusion that all of us need to work at all levels, or as I said "we should all support all efforts."

And yet...here I make this suggestions and get accused of bashing the very adoptees I am trying to help; accused of not doing enough for mothers...

And this is another major reason we get nowhere...we expend more energy knocking each other than working together.

Oh well...

joy-joy said...

I think that is an awesome idea to raise awareness with a national march on D.C. and D.C. is such a fun city to erm, relax and talk about adoption in.

I wish we had numbers like 500 in Louisville, I think the thing that people don't get about the protest that we do however is what you see on the outside is only about 20% of the actual project. We also spend 3 days inside the hall talking to the legislators and that is what the majority of our funding goes to pay for the expensive booth and access to legislators, their spouses, their staff, and other exhibitors is a huge part of what we do.

legitimatebastard said...

I will be there, come hell or high water, as I was three times in the past. I will carry picket signs, chant, speak at the podium and educate the public. The past marches on Washington were effective. Let's do it again!

FauxClaud said...

As much as I ADORE the idea of going National.. and you know I do..I worry about dividing peoples efforts and spreading ourselves too thin. Until we really CAN bring something forward on a national effort.. something in DC might very well cause folks to have to choose between The Adoptee Rights Protest and a DC one.
I think this idea came up a few years ago and had to be dismissed again becasue of low numbers?
As a mother who is committeed to the Adoptee Rights day I have to say that the support of mothers and adoptive parents is very important! And, less than 24 hours away form Louisville, the effort thre DID make a huge differnce. The difference even between last year in Philly and this year was amazing..we had news coverage (though I can't find the videos online) and on the papers and what was seen outside. and inside the booth.. we were SWARMED with pwople wanting to know what we were all about.

Eventually, I hope the NCSL convention will be close to DC! And then it would be BRILLIANT to piggyback something at the capital! In anycase, you know that we feel very much the same on a great majority of the issues and steps needed to take...so you know you have my support and will help in any way I can.. it's only though networking and working together can we get anywhere!

Mirah Riben said...

Claudia,

How and when can we find out their schedule and when they will meet in DC?

Where there 500 Adoption Rights people in Louisville? (I am very public and on Facebook and didn't know about it until a week before when it was too late to attend.)

Were press releases sent out?

cedartrees said...

"I support equal access for all adoption-separated people to the original birth certificate.

Hi Mirah! I have 2 questions: access to the original birth certificate is one thing, but what about natural mothers' access to the amended birth certificate as well? Do you support that? What about CUB and OUSA?

"Our legislators will not hear it!"

Has a legislative proposal been considered in any state, been debated by politicians, that has included access for mothers -- or just proposals for one-way access only, i.e. for adoptees?

cedartrees said...

Hi Dan! I agree with you 100% that adoptees have the right to their OBC, the same right as any other citizen.

But reunion is the elephant on the dining room table when it comes to open records campaigns. Legislators will always bring it up, because unless we can prove that no adoptee in open records states apply to get their records in order to search, we can't prove that reunion is not an issue and an important one.

"Not to bash on mothers, but they aren't being held hostage by the state on behalf of the adoption industry."

Very true. But our children are being held hostage from us by the state on behalf of the adoption industry.

"They aren't being denied passports or "enhanced" drivers licenses, among other things."

Very true, but we are being denied even the chance to find out if our beloved children are even alive or dead. :( We are denied the chance to pass family medical information on to them face-to-face. We are denied the chance to tell them the truth about the surrender if the industry has cooked up lies about it.

So, both separated parties are being treated like trash by current laws.

I also feel that if mothers lobby for open records for themselves as well as for adoptees, then this puts another nail in the coffin of the "confidentiality myth." Because, why would we want to search for and find our child if we were promised "confidentiality"? Plus, an equal access (adoptee and natural parents) campaign may bring in more natural mothers and fathers into the open records movement than before, as they would also gain something from it, which right now they don't.

Just my opinions, and i'm not trying to cause trouble, but I think that what has worked here in Canada may also work in the U.S. -- at least, i haven't seen anything yet that has convinced me that the two countries are so very different. :)

Mirah Riben said...

Cedar,

I can only tell you what I know which may not be the complete answer.

In the 1980's CUB president Carole Anderson (may she rest in peace) proposed bilateral "open records" or equal access. She favored CUB opposing any legislation that wa snot bilateral.

She was basically overruled as being way too radical. To my knowledge no one has tried since. To my knowledge no legislation has ever been introduce din any state seeking access for both mothers and adoptees. I could well be unaware of some attempt, but as I said, I know of none in the US, where we are far more backward than Canada and surely ions behind AU.

As I have also said, in my state it has been impossible to get adoptees access - even with all kinds of compromises. The ACLU, Bar Assoc, Catholic Charities and of course NCFA all heavily campaign against it using alleged promises made to mothers as the excuse. It's a real uphill battle that has been ongoing for THIRTY YEARS! They recognize adoptees plight and that they were innocent and did not agree to or sign anything...but they cannot get passed the POSSIBLE ONE mother who would be "devastated" as if it's about search and contact and as if there are not sufficient laws to protect anyone from unwanted harassment. URGH! really angers me!

I myself am not suggesting access to amended BC's for mothers. As I have said - prospectively, I would hope to see efforts for no falsified BCs and that will eliminate the issue for those who come after us - adoptees and their mothers.

Retroactively, I see seeking bilateral access - as Carole Anderson wanted - as an additional and final death blow impediment to any rights that might possibly be given back to adoptees.

I know this will be very unpopular and I duck the stones that will be cast...but the truth is no matter how much coercion was involved, we did, in the end, sign. Adoptees did not. And it is THEIR identity, not ours.

I believe that anyone who feels were they were coerced or fraud existed in acquiring their signature should sue. But I cannot logically find that across the board mothers are being deneid any right that others have by not being given the new name of the child they relinquished all rights to. In other words, it is not an issue or EQUALITY, as it is for adoptees who are deprived information that all other citizens have - their OWN name and their own DOB and place of birth, their own ethnicity etc.

Mirah Riben said...

Cedar (re your post addressed to Dan),

First and foremost, it would be very helpful to our cause if you changed your language from the very confusing "open records" - which is used to allow access to private and confidential medical records...and instead us the language of EQUAL ACESS. there are additional values in changing that language that I have written about elsewhere...

There is no question that adoption has hurt mothers and that we have lost a great deal and emotionally I totally agree with you. I also agree that our support is - and always been - crucial to dispelling the myths that we want anonymity from our children.

We have a clear legal right to documents on which we are named - e.g. the OBC. Other aspects of the loss we have suffered - usually coercively in one way or another - need, IMHO, OTHER solutions, specifically working on family Preservation and ending falsified BCs as I have said.

cedartrees said...

"First and foremost, it would be very helpful to our cause if you changed your language from the very confusing "open records" - which is used to allow access to private and confidential medical records..."

Mirah, I very clearly use the term "open records" to refer specifically to birth records and adoption records (e.g., the adoption court orders) as held by state and provincial divisions of Vital Statistics.

Access to medical records and other confidential information falls under the policy field of "freedom of information and protection of privacy (FOIPP or "FOI"). I was involved in the implementation of FOIPP legislation here in BC as an FOI coordinator back in 1995 when the legislation was rolled out. One of the first FOI acts in North America.

This policy field, freedom of information, is entirely different from "open records" as pertaining to adoption, and it is confusing when people use the term "open records" loosely to refer to adoption case files (which contain the confidential personal information such as social worker notes, etc.). Adoption agencies here in BC fall under FOI legislation, and the adoption case files held by them can be obtained via an FOI request.

If these two terms, open records and freedom of information, were used to refer to the two different subject areas, we'd be fine. But loosely applying "open records" to FOIPP issues is what is confusing. The two are not the same thing.

cedartrees said...

"I know this will be very unpopular and I duck the stones that will be cast...but the truth is no matter how much coercion was involved, we did, in the end, sign."

Mirah, please do not use this blanket term, "we." That is what I disagree with. I did not willingly sign. You perhaps did, but there was as little choice in the adoption for me as there was for my son. Please do not generalize this to me. Others made the decision about our fate. A coerced "decision" is not a decision at all. My baby had already been abducted at birth, and the social worker told me that if i did not sign, they would keep him in foster care until i did. I also was medicated when they took my signature -- there were no witnesses, no lawyer, no judge.

To say that i signed is like to say that a rape victim chose to have sex. :( A consensual act and a coerced act are two very different things.

Anonymous said...

Mirah,
I agree that is what needs to take place. However, I think that we need to concider the AAC conference in Orlando during the middle of April next year. We probably need to look at late May or first of June 2011 for the gathering.
I also noticed that none of the States denying access hhad signs to that effect. I think that maybe this should happen also.
Chief007

Mirah Riben said...

"it is confusing when people use the term "open records" loosely to refer to adoption case files (which contain the confidential personal information such as social worker notes, etc.)."

Exactly my point. At this link:
http://adoptalk.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

scroll down to: "Dear Bastards: Demand Equality!" an article of mine that appeared in the Bastard Qaurterly Vol 8, No 1 Spring/Summer 2006, as a POINT/COUNTERPOINT

"I did not willingly sign."

Please re-read my words. I never said any of us signed 'willingly." NEVER! And Never would use that word for myself, or for any of us.

I said very specifically that "even coerced" we did sign. my pint is that it is a different issue than the issues of equal access for adoptee. It requires different remedy IMO. And tagging onto adoptee rights hurts their issue.

Child abduction is a felony crime and anyone such as yourselves whose child was abducted, I would encourage to pursue legal action.

Those are my beliefs. I respect that others see it differently. Bit I said nothing about relinquishing willingly.

cedartrees said...

"I said very specifically that "even coerced" we did sign. my point is that it is a different issue than the issues of equal access for adoptees"

But, saying that we did sign, implies that we did eventually, willingly, of our own accord, decide to sign. That it was our choice, our decision, and hence "willingly." That coercion doesn't count. That's where i feel that coercion negates choice. I have seen case after case where coercion just escalated if a mother said "no" at first. The conclusion was foregone, the decision had been made by others. Our own desire to keep our babies didn't count, and I feel that now, this desire, our motherhood, should be respected and recognized. Yes, it is a different issue from adoptee rights, but how can we say that open records is not about reunion when some (most?) adoptees who obtain their records DO use their records to reunite?


"It requires different remedy IMO. And tagging onto adoptee rights hurts their issue."

I am wondering though, it did not seem to hurt their issue here in Canada, when open (vital statistics) records were our issue as well. We did not "tag onto their issue," because it was our issue as well. And it seems to be snowballing nicely across Canada now, in the slow way that Canada acts ... so i am wondering what would happen if it were *tried* in the U.S. ... just tried in one state, by one united group of mothers and adoptees who fight for the rights of both. I do not know if victory can be ruled out as a possibility.

Mirah Riben said...

Yielding to coercion and doing something willingly are diametric opposites. not the same at all. Unless your signature was forged on your relinquishment - you did in the end sign because of PRESSURE to do so and lack of any other option. period.

Why is it so different in the US than in Canada? A lot is different about the two countries. Why are we imperialistic pigs who invade other countries and spend billions and billions day after day on war and have no socialized medicine and people going homeless and hungry and not so Canada? Very different countries.

I do not believe that Canada has the strong conservative right wing religious element that ties adoption into abortion and a strong pro-life lobby that sways legislators into beleiving their lies that access = increased abortions.

I also do not think that Canada has as strong a commercial lobby as we do here in the U.S.A., incorporated that is driven by $$ and concept of a free market and lobbyists from the NCFA who peak on behalf of adoption agencies and providers, and tell THEIR LIES about mothers' being promised anonymity.

That is what we are up against here in the US. Money talks here and we are a tiny grassroots movement with no $$ for paid lobbyists up against major $$ forces who do lobby.

We pour our hearts out; they lie. They are believed and we are dismissed. Time, after time, after time! THIRTY years of it in my home state of NJ.

Anonymous said...

What is this crap about?
"Willingly" - to most people - implies a lack of reluctance.

Mirah Riben said...

I totally agree!

I was very clear in saying just that:

"Yielding to coercion and doing something willingly are diametric opposites."

While I have met mothers - usually those who newly relinquished and often those in open adoption - who beleive that they made a free and willing choice, I did not bring the word "willingly" into the discussion and have no idea why Cedar did. It has no place in this discussion which is about access to birth certificates original or amended.

Anonymous said...

Here is a guide to Canada's provincial adoption disclosure legislation:
http://www.canadianfamily.ca/articles/article/provincial-adoption-disclosure-legislation/

"Barkis is willing."
David Copperfield.

Anonymous said...

Mirah, I agree that national media would be a boon to our cause. I disagree with making it sound like we're not doing enough, or there's not enough of us.
Your comment and question to Claudia "Were there 500 demonstrators?" implies that we didn't do ENOUGH. That we're a laughing stock without a chance.
Our "measly 70-80 participants got attention as our booth was SWAMPED with requests for info.
We were effective despite the numbers on the street. And we did get attention from the press, none that I've read being negative.

And Cedar, the more we try to lump everyone under this fight for our rights, the more the old emotional reunion arguments continue.
They are SEPARATE ISSUES and must be dealt with separately.
What an adult adoptee does with his/her OBC is nobody's business but the adult that owns it and is named on it.
We are denied the right to choose for ourselves.
You imply that reunion is the only reason to obtain OBC, I contend the reason is of no concern to ANYONE but the owner of said OBC.

Co-opting the reason for un-sealing these documents does little to further the cause, and actually leave the door open for the age old emotional defenses instead of focusing on the simplicity of EQUAL RIGHTS that we are asking to be RESTORED, not granted for the first time.
Support is not the same as adding your own demands to the list.
The simpler we keep it, the less that contrived arguments by our opposition hold validity.
KISS rule needs to be in full effect!

And Mirah, don't for an instant take my comments as anything less than appreciation for what you've done over the years. I'm new in this activist arena, but have lived the lie for 47 years.
I just feel that anything that could discourage supporters from speaking out should be left out of the discussion.

Dan in MI

Mirah Riben said...

Dan,

I asked in all sincerity if there were 500 people in Louisville because of Joy-Joy's comment above of July 28, 2010 7:20 AM:

"I wish we had numbers like 500 in Louisville"

It was a question with none of the attitude or put-downs you chose to read into it.

Thank you for clarifying the participant count.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget