A bill hearing will be Wednesday, April 30, 2008 in Columbus, OH. Legislators are concerned about birthparent privacy. For more information and how you can help see Adoption Network Cleveland (www.adoptionnetwork.org).
It is hard to say who hinders adoption reform the most but just why are some of the large organizations opposing it? There is some support toward state adoption registries and confidential intermediary programs. But when it comes to treating all adult adoptees equally and opening records, Catholic Charities (CC) is one of the organizations that shows opposition.
For years CC social workers have told unwed mothers to place their baby for adoption and then they can move on with their life and forget about the baby they relinquished. Any of we women who have given birth know there is no way that we could have parted with our baby and gone on with our life as if the pregnancy and birth of our child never happened.
CC social workers continue to say that birth mothers were promised confidentiality. This "confidentialty factor" seems to me to be something that social workers decided on with adoption attorneys and our government enforcing it.
Could it be that CC social workers have lied so much over the years that CC is afraid that open record laws will result in their being sued?
My own search took over 20 years to complete and during that time my birthparents died while in their 50's. They had married before my adoption was finalized. It is believed that my birthparents had contacted CC and been told that I was deceased. Birth certificates of my siblings indicate one baby was born to my birth mother but not alive at the time of their birth. I'm the only baby that anyone can think of that she must have been referring to at the time their birth certificates were completed. But I was very much alive and still am (obviously, or I would not be writing this).
During my search I asked a CC social worker about my deceased birth father. It said on my adoption decree that he was deceased. I was told that he was alive at the time I was placed for adoption and that I just did not understand legal terminology. Well, deceased means dead in the dictionary. It makes one wonder what other lies were told and maybe passed off as "legal terminology".
This is 2008 and for CC to continue to fight open records makes me wonder if they are not running scared. The excuse of their protecting the adoptee, birth parents, and adoptive parents has become mighty old and many of us know that is a lie. Just how many have they told over the past 60-70 years?
As I'm writing this, I'm referring to a letter that I wrote to the Right to Life Society in Columbus, OH back in 1992. This was when they were opposing an OH bill.
Now 16 years later Right to Life (RTL) societies across the U.S. are still known for opposing adoption reform. In 1992 they stressed that a baby's heart begins to beat 18 days after conception. I imagine that they might still do that but long ago I lost interest in what they have to say. Why? I think it is great that they have maybe played a role in preventing some abortions. But I do not understand how they can be so interested in a baby being born but then the hell with the baby if it is adopted and as an adult would like to be reunited with birth relatives. It reminds me of Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's. He was so interested in foster children being placed in good homes but the hell with adoption reform. God rest his soul but his name still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, just as the name RTL does.
Human beings involved with trying to save the life of an unborn baby but yet speaking out to continue "imposed secrecy" upon individuals personally touched by adoption makes me wonder just how human they are. Many or all of the RTL people who lobby against adoption reform probably know their own medical history, religious background, ethnicity, physical resemblance, and the list goes on. Adult adoptees are being denied this fundamental knowledge by being denied their original birth certificate.
The current Illinois adoption law is discriminatory and outdated. But yet Rep. Feigenholtz has introduced a bill to continue this instead of introducing a bill to treat all adult adoptees equally. And then RTL supports IL HB 4623. Just what is going on? As we all know, money talks and maybe money is more important to RTL than adoptees being treated like first class citizens?
It is vital for IL HB 4623 to be killed. Illinois adoptees have been robbed from their identity way too long. The Mitchell-Feigenholtz bill does provide for a select group to be able to request their OBC, no restrictions. Later on other adoptees can after birth parents have had a chance to request anonymity. Melisha Mitchell stated, "The rare adoptees who will be the subject of birth parent "requests for anonymity" filed under this law will have the option of receiving copies of their obc's from which only the identifying information pertaining to the anonymity-seeking birth parent has been deleted..." I think it very possible that few birth parents will request anonymity. BUT, is it right for an ADULT adoptee to have lived say 60 years without knowing their identity, only to request their OBC and receive it with identifying information deleted? This OBC would never have originated without the birth of the adoptee but yet he/she has no right to receive it with their birth name on it?
Is IL going to have a deleting names department for the rare adoptee? What would attending physicians and registrars think if they were to hear of this insane bill. They have signed legal documents and then to hear that same document is to have names deleted from it surely would not set too well with them. Wouldn't it set into motion for not only attending physicians and registrars to begin to question what other legal documents might be altered but residents to question it as well. Those working in the judicial system would probably wonder what type of "legal" documents might be used as exhibits in their court some day and how on earth would they rule for or against them.
Doesn't this sound like something that Fred Flintstone might do in his cave? Not really because even Fred I do believe would have treated ALL adoptees like first class citizens. Is it possible that Mitchell and Feigenholtz have teamed together to start a new cartoon series and are not really serious about IL HB 4623 going any further? Let's certainly hope so, like maybe "Minnie and Sadie Mouse".
Illinois Open learned of the impending introduction of IL HB 4623 by State Rep Sara Feigenholtz by reading about it in the Chicago Tribune. What type of State Rep would not notify Illinois Open when she is well aware of the organization's existence?
A letter by Melisha Mitchell was sent out to many, including myself. She referred to the Bill as one that many have longed for. It's more like a nightmare. Melisha admitted in her letter that it is not a "pure" OBC access bill. She said that the Bill is "imperfect". What dream is not "pure" and is imperfect? Dreams to me have always been something that would be really good - the perfect answer to a wish or need. IL HB 4623 is anything but.
For over 30 years now I've been an advocate for open records. I had a good adoptive home. My father was killed in a freak accident when I was two years old. But my mother remarried and my step-father treated me as if I were his biological daughter. In 1997 the search for my birth family was completed. My birth parents died during my 20 plus year search. I've had a great reunion with siblings and other birth relatives. I want other searching adoptees to complete their searches. Open records laws in all states would make the task easier. Over the years I've conversed with many triad members and the majority have wanted laws so that all adoptees can request and receive their original birth certificate.
During a 20+ year search for my birth mother, I provided the AdopTriad BBS. I was the founder of Insight to The Adoption Triad, a search and support group in OH (Columbus and Delaware areas). For many years I helped numerous adoptees and birth parents throughout the U.S. with their searches and provided support during and afterwards. Although I'm not as active today I am the list owner for FamAdopt (Yahoo eGroups)and continue to offer advice and provide support. I'm currently writing a book about my own search and reunion since I do feel that it will be inspiring to many. This blog was started because I do feel the violation of the rights of adoptees needs to be more widely known in the hope that it will lead legislators to opening records in the majority of the states that still have closed records. ALL adoptees deserve their original birth certificate, just as those not personally touched by adoption obtain their OBC with no questions asked and are not denied this link to their heritage.