Monday, May 9, 2011

A Victory, 31 Years in the Making!

After thirty-one years of hard work, a NJ adoptee rights bill made it through BOTH the Assembly and Senate today!!

The day was not without it's dramatics. When I arrived at the Senate about half past 1...I was immediately told by Jean and Pam that three of our committed "yes" votes were not present. We still had enough for it to pass, but it made things a bit less secure. We met in the balcony overlooking the Senate floor and had to sit through presentations of resolutions and awards given to school basketball, wrestling and even a robotics team!  How your tax dollars are spent, folks!

Some time after 3pm they finally started voting on the bills.  Our bill was not uncontested and so we anticipated all the hackneyed arguments would be dragged out one more time. We braced ourselves for the abortion woes and the faceless mothers who needed protecting as they trembled in their invisible shoes.

Lo and behold when it came time for our bill only the sponsor spoke and very eloquently described why this made so much sense! 

Then came the vote. Our vote. Our bill. Lights began to light up on a big board. We needed 41 of 70-odd to pass. And the numbers changed rapidly until it got to 40 YES. And then it stopped. It felt to me like the longest pause ever. My heart stopped. I wasn't breathing. Was this it? Would we loose by one vote? The NOs kept posting and the yeses remained at 40.

 Jean Strauss captured this photo of that heart-stopping moment!
I did not throw up, just looked and felt like I would!

And then, just when I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, finally it went to 41 and then 42 and those who were listening at home heard a YELP from the balcony and it was me! Jean Strauss filmed me as tears came to my eyes as it went to 41 and then 41.  Final count was 44 to 26 with 2 abstained. Not sire. get that from Pa,. But we had done it. At long last. Something never before accomplished was done! We all wanted to scream and shout but couldn't in the staid chambers.

This video captures my tearful reaction.

I was fortunate to have been there to share this momentous occasion with Pam Hasagawa, Peter Franklin, Judy Foster, and the rest of the NJ-CARE team who have poured their hearts and souls into this bill and fought every compromise tooth and nail...and weighed carefully and thoughtfully the choice of a less than perfect bill over none. A proposed prospective only bill was flatly refused. When the veto issue raised its ugly head, the opposition insisted upon a opt-out veto and the NJ-CARE held fast and succeeded in getting it to be opt-in and only for one year! Evidence shows that in other states precious few mothers take advantage of vetoes. And in NJ, even though they get a redacted OBC, they still get an OBC! And they may get family medical history if the mothers chooses to share that. No, it's not perfect. It was this or nothing at all. A choice had to be made to save the many or throw everyone under the bus! And in one year the veto disapperas!!

No one is overjoyed with all the provisions of this bill. It is far from providing what every person deserves; EQUALITY with no restrictions or conditions that apply just to adopted persons. But the alternative might have meant another 31 years of no one having any access at all. And we feel confident that in NJ, as in other states, precious few mothers will take advantage of the one years window to exercise their opt-in right to redact their name from the birth certificate even those adoptees will obtain.

This is a first step. We have more to do, in NJ and and our bordering states of NY and PA...and ALL states!

And even after we accomplish every adoptee having unfettered access, there is STILL MORE to do to end the coercive and exploitative practices that add more wounded to the roles of adoption every day -  in this country and all over the world. We need to end the culture of entitlement and the mythology of "better lives" through adoption, and "rescuing" "unwanted" "orphans"!  We need to because who else will? And we need to pay it back!

And though we have a long road ahead, we need to stop and give thanks for each battle one, even while the war rages on. We need to congratulate the soldiers who lead the march as well as those who did their bit to help, even if that was writing letters or sending emails.

And we need to keep writing letter because it aint over in NJ until the fat man signs!

Especially of you were born in NJ, or relinquished or adopted in NJ...PLEASE snail mail letters to Gov. Christie telling to sign this bill into law!  
Office of the Governor, PO Box 001, Trenton, NJ 08625, 609-292-6000
or
Email at: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/index.html
 

We need to re-double our efforts to out shout the do-nothing naysayer "purists" who side with the NCFA and Right-to-Life in their efforts to defeat this bill!  The enemy within roars it's UGLY head and has not stopped in their efforts to kill this bill. WRITE YOUR LETTERS!  Don't let the negative nellies win! 

I also want to share the totally unexpected emotional impact today had on me. I've been a public activist for more than 30 years...testifying since the 80's, national TV appearances, keynotes addresses and workshops at conferences, radio interviews, book tours...and throughout it all I have kept a tight lid on my personal life, keeping the personal pain adoption has caused me guarded and privately compartmentalized. In the safe, secured, locked away from the public me, the "author", the "activist."

Today, they collided and at the moment of extreme joy and relief immediately following the positive vote outcome, I found myself tearing up and later sobbing.  I thought that I was crying for my daughter who was not alive to share the joy with me...

It wasn't until I arrived back at home and reflected that I realized that I was crying some tears of GUILT for being happy at anything related to adoption!  How dare I rejoice in anything to do with the process that tore my precious child from me...and from life itself! I felt a betrayal and that was why she had come to my mind today!

I shed some cathartic tears. Tears that had been welled up inside me since her departure from this realm in 1995. And then I put on a smile and went back to the festivities because this day was not about me...

7 comments:

BD said...

Bastard Nation has never sided with NCFA. We opposed this bill and every other bill that does not restore the right of full OBC access for all adoptees.

Bastard Nation does not support privilege over rights as this bill does. . We do not support the anonomization "safe haven victims, many of whom are born to identified parents as this bill does. We do not support shielding the adoption industry from legal action as this bill does. We do not support coercing medical histories as from women as this bill does.

NJCare and it's allies have doing nothing to further the genuine right of all adopted persons to their OBCs. It has, through this bill, validated the lies of the opposition, to get something for somebody Shame on you all. Will NJCare go back and pick up the left behinds? Of course not . It will be legally impossible.

Our record speaks for itself. To say we have done nothing is a lie.

Mirah Riben said...

You are absolutely correct! The record does speak for itself. And this is what BN’s record shows:

Oregon? BN jumped on that bandwagon ad SUPPORTED a bill that was set in motion by one woman who finances a referendum and the mothers who paid for a full-page newspaper to debunk that we wanted our anonymity. Oregon credit goes to Helen Hill, not BN. They did not craft the legislation or introduce it. They supported it, as did all of us nationwide.

Now let’s look at Ohio, your mome state, Marley. You are apparently very proud that you testified IN FAVOR OF Ohio’s HB419 because you keep this up on BN’s website: Testimony of Marley Greiner Oct. 10, 1965 http://www.bastards.org/bnpress/ohtest.htm

And this is what she testified IN FAVOR OF:

Ohio law provides those who were adopted prior to Jan. 1, 1964 access to adoption records.

Those adopted between Jan 1, 1964 and Sept. 18, 1996 get nothing. They are SOL.

Those adopted after Sep 8, 1996 record are open to adoptees over 21 and to adoptive parents of a child between 18-21.


This is the great bill that Marley Grenier testified in favor of. One of the worst pieces of adoption access legislation in the nation. THIS is the record of the never accept a compromise purest who rages at all other activists. Did she get the pulled as she says NJ-CARE should have???

The NJ Bill is not perfect but NJ-CARE did pull a date-restricted bill! And they fought the legislators who all insisted on an opt-out veto. Rather than have nothing at all for another r31 years they begrudgingly accepted a compromise of an opt-in veto, knowing base don other states that VERY FEW adoptees would be left out, AND even those that obtained a redacted OBC still got their OBC and family medical history provided by the mother.

Yes, you side with our enemies when you encourage people to write “VITE NO” without saying he bill doesn’t go far enough IN THE SUBJECT LINE! Those emails simply get dumped in the NO pile right along with the NCFA and RTL! Yes, you are helping them. They want the bill killed and so do you!

Marley is so angry that she is campaigning against the signing of the National Adoptee Rights Day petition at http://tinyurl.com/adoptee-rights-day. (Sign it, if you haven’t yet and join more than 500 of us!) A petition that contains the wording “unrestricted, unconditional adoptee access.” How much more PURE can you get! But she is allowing childish personality differences to not just keep her from sighing or supporting the petition – but to actually tell others not to sign it. Talk about committing political suicide! She is against something that is for exactly what she professes to be for! Others have been able to be adult and reach across “party lines” or across the aisle as they say, and whether they “like” one another personally or not, mutually support the petition because the goal is something all share! Not Marley! She’d rather be the angry loner and piss on everyone’s parade.

Not that it matters. BN very unfortunately has become obsolete. In the halls of the NJ senate it was laughed at. On FB on a regular basis I am asked, "who is that angry Marley?" And it’s sad because I had great hopes for BN as a STRONG arm of this movement. I am a lifetime member. And it’s sad because Marley is such a birth, articulate and very humorous woman who has so very much to offer. But she chooses to let her anger control her in destructive ways.

The sadness of of her lone wolf cries are evidence by the ZERO comments her last two negative ranting blog posts received. Marley - no one is listening anymore.

The record is clear. You have done nothing but complain about others, as I have stated.

Lead, follow or get out of the G-D way, woman!!

Mirah Riben said...

BD/Marley,

I have no personal animosity for you even though you knock my petition because it is mine. All I have is pity that you would hurt the cause of adoptee rights and try to stop PURE unfettered access and an opportunity to educate the public - including adoptees whose heads are in the sand - about this issue as a civil rights issue. I will educate all who read the petition...what are YOU doing to educate the public about the issues?? In-fighting and attacking others' hard work? Don't you have anything better to do with your time than spread FB messages demeaning a worthwhile petition because of personal enmity?

I would eagerly support anything positive BN put forth...but I have not seen that happen since...I absolutely cannot recall a single positive action toward helping the cause of obtaining adoptee rights that Bn has initiated! Instead they are the bulldogs at the door snarling at all who try to get in.

Your bark is far worse than your bite! We got he NJ bill DESPITE you attempt to sabotage it!

Sad...just sad...what a waste...

BD said...

Mirah,you have no idea what you are talking about. Please bone up on adoption history before you make a fool of yourself.

M58 in Oregon was Bastard Nation's project. It was developed by Bastards after our first conference in Chicago. Helen Hill, who largely financed the measure was a member of Bastard Nation who attended that meeting. She and Shea Grimm, co-founder of BN and member of the BN executive committee researched and wrote the measure. We worked with Helen nearly daily during the campaign. Bastards, including Ron Morgan and Damsel Plum, from all over the west coast went to Oregon to work on the campaign. You don't have to believe me. Please read Wayne Carp's Bastard Nation, Measure 58 and the Politics of Adoption I doubt if the book would have our name in the title if we'd "jumped on the bandwagon."

BTW, the AAC donated a whopping $100 to the campaign while OARA made Helen sit in the back of the room to hand out literature during breaks. Talking about "rights" upset some OARA members...according to OARA.

As for Ohio, again you have no idea of what you are talking about.

First of all, HB 419 is pre-Bastard Nation

More important, the bill was an omnibus foster care/adoption bill several years in the making before hearings were held. Records access was about 1/5 (or less) of one page of the several hundred page bill. When I testified on behalf of it, that section was clean--no restrictions. Shortly after that, about a week or so, due to heavy pressure from Dr. John Wilke, co-founder of the National Right to Life Committee and ORTL leg director, Janet Folger (now Porter), the bill was amended to an opt-in veto. There was a very quick turn around on this. I'm thinking less than a day, maybe a few hours. I had nothing to do with the decision to accept this, since I was not a member of the committee that worked on the bill. So, to say that I supported a tiered access bill is not true. I never did. This can all be verified by Betsie Norris, if you want to bother her.

The Alabama restoration was also Bastard Nation. AWARE was headed by Dr. David Ansardi and Sandra Pears-Wilson, both BN members David at one point was on our executive committee. We worked dearily every day with them. I'm sure David would be happy to explain this to you.

We were part of the informal coalition in New Hampshire. BN Executive Committee and Leg Com member Janet Allen was a member of the NH House and played an instrumental role in getting the bill passed.

....end of Part 1

BD said...

Part 2:

astard Nation operates on principles and by ethics, not how much we can get. We do not send mixed messages. We do not accept restrictions, We do what we say we'll do. Why are you surprised that we would object to this greatly flawed bill. If it becomes law, those left behind and the safe havened will never get their records. What do you say to them. Tough! You cannot get them back. Oh ,and how do you like protecting Catholic Charities from legal action?

The heading of our Action Alerts are always written that way, and we are not going to change it to make you happy. Everything I blog is sent automatically to FB the way I post it. Your complaint has no merit.

I am not angry about the petition. We see no strategic value in it. Records access is not a federal issue and it is pointless to try to get the federal government involved On a practial scale, why would you want to? What you are doing is collecting a database of adoptee rights supporters under the guise of doing something that has no juice. The choice of the day the 14th Amendment was passed makes no sense. It is irrelevant to bastard rights and history.

Funny, if we are so irrelevant, why is Bastard nation the only organization the enemy has respect for? We're not the ones sending out prayer requests. We're not the ones who one day want medical history, the next day therapy, and the next day a favor from the state.

We are the strong arm of the movement and will continue to be. The real enemy is the deformers who continue to throw away rights for favors to "get something passed." And while cowards continue to sell out bastards for favors we will always maintain the dignity of Class Bastard and the rights of all, not privileges for some.

Mirah Riben said...

Thank you Marley.

So, OK. BN takes credit for Oregon, just as I originally said. Others disagree, but we can split the different.

And so you personally supported the Ohio bill BEFORE BN and before it was compromised. DID YOU PULL IT? NO! But you expect other grassroots organizers to pull bills that get compromised along the way! And criticize them BITTERLY when they do not.

And what have you DONE??? You still have not answered other than your shared efforts in Oregon. That's it!

Now for the petition. What it is asking most definitely CAN be done nationally: a day of recognition! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT??? Plus the feds COULD say that the states have no right to falsify our OBCs. We just haven't tried.

"collecting a database of adoptee rights supporters under the guise." That's a joke and your suggestion borders on defamation of character, slander, and libel if it wasn't too ridiculously far-fetched and comical!

1. All I have access to from the petition is what anyone in the public has access to: NAMES, no email or any other contact for signers! If you don't believe that check with Care2 or set up a sample petition and see!

2. A "guise" for what??? I put far more money INTO adoption reform than I have ever made selling books! I donate regularly to orgs like ACT/Against Child Trafficking, travel to conferences on my own dime, print handouts for Regday and other events on my own dime...the list goes on and on and on...Adoption is a bottomless money pit.

Anytime you like, I publish my income tax reports. So watch out if you try to publicly accuse me of profiting or "using" anything or anyone inappropriately! I am so above-board - squeaky clean, Marley. I spend more and do more than anyone I know...except maybe Jean Strauss and others who are producing films. That's costly!!

Please get YOUR facts straight!!

You, on the other hand, spent travel money to come to NYC to speak NEGATIVELY at the Hard Rock event. And didn't even hand out your handouts! So yet again: WHAT HAVE YOUR OR BN DONE? D-O-N-E as in accomplished in a POSITIVE way??? Or even what have you TRIED to do that was positive??

RE: The safe haven aspect of the NJ bill - it is sad and it is one of the things I will fight to change.

Safe havens SUCK, Marley. The NJ bill didn't create the NJ safe haven law. They suck and they are your pet cause and you have been UNSUCCESSFUL in stopping them from spreading to EVERY state. That's sad. Sometimes our best efforts just don't work, Marley. Does anyone yell at you and accuse you of LETTING these safe havens happen despite your best efforts? No, but you do that to others when less than perfect bills passed DESPITE their best efforts!! Does anyone blame you for "allowing" them to spread to every state, Marley? NO!

Why instead of just sharing your data on baby dumps are you saving it to write a book? News flash: If you think book publishing is a source of income, think again! And once you do publish, IF you do, then you won't be able to point any fingers at me!! How many names are in YOUR database? And tell me you won't tap that to send out book announcements! Yeah right! It's what we do, what all do. But i have nothing to sell to those who signed the petition even if COULD access their emails which I cannot!! So you are putting down a righteous, well meaning effort for a cause YOU claim to support - unrestricted access - out of sheer meanness and persona; enmity based on falsehoods that I have some ulterior motives, Marley.

And ya' still haven't said anything POSITIVE BN has done. What bill has BN INTRODUCED - not a referendum, a BILL, and fought through the legislative houses until it passed???

NONE!!! But you tell everyone else what they are doing wrong! And refuse to support something that MIGHT do some good for made up reasons. Good job.

Mirah Riben said...

Marley,

I don't want a public disagreement to fuel our real enemies. But I think anyone with intelligence can realize that we are on the same team, just playing different positions on that team and disagreeing about the best strategy to get to the finish line. That is why I find your use of demeaning terms so upsetting and wish you could limit the discussion to a bit more respectful language.

Now, even putting the Oregon victory on your side of the score card as a win for you or for BN...that was referendum. It is VERY DIFFERENT from obtaining a sponsor and then co-sponsors of a bill, getting it introduced and then following it through committees in TWO houses: assembly and senate, all the while defending against the lies the lobbyists of the opposition are filling the legislators with - and dealing with POLITICIANS whose FAVORITE method is COMPROMISE!

I'm not downgrading the work involved in getting a referendum passed. I'm saying it's very different. And to my knowledge, you have not done THAT work, though you criticize those who do. This has always been my argument, Marley.

Further, you ask if we will revisit NJ legislation.

May I ask you why in the years since your home state Ohio has enacted this HORRIBLY oppressive legislation - have YOU ever tried to re-visit it??

Finally, do you think we can agree to disagree but to be more polite and less MEAN about it?

Will you accept the fact that it is impossible for me to garner anything from the petition the public doesn't see...and that I do NOT make any profit from the sale of my books that is not put back into the movement ten fold and so I have no ulterior motivation?

If you don;t want to to sign it or support it, that is absolutely fine. It's your prerogative. But why tell others not to? How does anyone else's signing it hurt you or the cause we both believe in, Marley???

I may not always agree with you, Marley, but I always respect you and have never told anyone not to join BN - and never would - as I believe in freedom of choice. And because I also do truly believe that although our approaches are different, we ARE on the same team! I wish you could share that world view.

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