When I found out my adoptee peeps in Washington State are facing disclosure veto legislation, my heart sank. Several years ago when a similar bill passed in Illinois, supporters of clean legislation predicted that it would be held up as a dubious "standard" for adoptee birth certificate access. Sadly, we were correct. You can read about what we faced with the Illinois legislation and my own personal experience with the suckitude that is Illinois' veto-happy law.
The job of a clean adoptee rights advocate is never done. Not only do you have to face strident opponents, disinterested legislators, and nosy reporters, but you also have to fight your own team when people turn deformer and support bills that will leave some adoptees behind.
What the hell is so hard to understand, people? Don't support bad bills. We can restore birth certificate access to ALL adoptees if you get off your asses and stop allowing yourselves to be herded like cows into the second-class-citizen barn.
This is the letter I sent to Washington State's legislators. Whom, I might add, failed to respond save for two lone auto-responder bots - not even a "thank you for your message" from a staffer. So much for common courtesy. I guess bastards get ignored as usual, especially if you're not a constituent. Hey, left-behind adoptees - feeling disenfranchised much?
You can read more about what's going down in Washington State:
- Daily Bastardette: Washington Battleground: The Annual Murder of Adoptee Rights Continues
- First Mother Forum: OBC-access bill with 'birth mother' veto may become law
Dear Washington Senators and Representatives,
I understand you are considering an adoptee rights bill, SB 5118 / HB 1525, which contains a "contact veto" clause allowing birth mothers to deny adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Before you rush to pass such a bill, I hope you will consider the inequality of restoring access to some adoptees at the expense of others.
I am an Illinois adoptee and have been denied my birth certificate because my birth mother signed the veto in this state. I am the face of that supposedly small percentage of adoptees who will be permanently denied birth certificate access under this proposed legislation.
Rep. Orwall explains the need to favor the many over the few: "How sad it would be for some adoptees to not obtain this information while a birth parent may still be alive."
What about those adoptees left behind by veto legislation? Why isn't it sad that we cannot obtain our information as well - and in fact are permanently barred from it?
What makes some adoptees more deserving than others?
I was involved in the attempts to halt a similar bill that ended up passing here in Illinois. I have heard the arguments in favor of compromise legislation before: "Well, at least this will help the majority of adoptees." The assumption is that those vetoes will be such a small percentage it won't matter.
But the reality is that no state that has ever enacted veto legislation has gone back for those left behind. There's no sunset clause, no mechanism by which these adoptees will later have their birth certificate access restored.
Rep. Orwall is worried that birth families may die before adoptees have a chance to find them. But this isn't about search and reunion. It is about access to a critical piece of identity: our original birth certificates.
With increasing security in this post 9/11 world, many adoptees are discovering that their adoption paperwork alone isn't good enough. Discrepancies in the paperwork, i's not dotted or t's not crossed, and adult adoptees suddenly find they are unable to obtain driver's licenses, passports, and other critical documents.
I had a friend walked out of the DMV because she presented her amended birth certificate. She was told to bring the original - which, being adopted in a closed-records state, she has no way to obtain.
Veto legislation consigns some adoptees to this oblivion of non-access. They have no recourse, no way to obtain proof of their own identities. They are permanently banned.
The matter of birth mother privacy is irrelevant. My birth mother relinquished all rights to me when I was given up for adoption. Why does a stranger now have the ability to come back years later and deny me access to my own birth certificate? Not every adoptee who wants a birth certificate is looking to search. Search is a matter of personal choice and has no bearing on the civil right to obtain one's documentation of birth.
The only equitable solution is to restore to ALL adoptees the same equal access to original birth certificates as non-adoptees. This has been successfully done in Maine, where everyone follows the same procedure, adopted or not. Everyone pays the same basic fee. No one is left behind.
Maine has suffered none of the dire consequences so drastically described by opponents of original birth certificate access. Adoptees in Maine can walk into the courthouse, heads held high, and be treated the same as everyone else. That is all we want. If Maine, why not Washington?
I invite you to view Maine's legislation here:
It's no less sad or unfair for vetoed adoptees to be denied birth certificate access than it is for those whose birth families age and die while legislation is being considered. Because that "small percentage" so casually dismissed? Those are real people like me. We're not statistics. We exist. And we deserve the same equal rights, too.
Please vote no on SB 5118 / HB 1525.