For the inaugural entry of the 73adoptee blog, I'd like to encourage you to join in a letter-writing campaign opposing Illinois House Bill 4623.
This bill permits some adoptees to access their original birth certificates, while banning others from doing so. It also strengthens the Illinois adoption registry and state-contracted mandatory intermediary system. The public was denied access to the text of the bill until a few hours before it was voted favorably out of committee on March 13, 2008.
Even if you are not in Illinois, it would really help if you can write to Illinois legislators and media encouraging them to reject this bill in favor of legislation that restores original birth certificate access to ALL adult adoptees.
Write from your heart. But if you are searching for what to say, here are some points you might want to make:
- When birth certificates were sealed retroactively (in 1945), the rules were changed mid-game.
- Issuance of an amended birth certificate (ABC) is NOT automatic. There is no guarantee that the adoptee's birth identity will be erased. If the relinquished child is NOT adopted, his/her name is not changed, no ABC is issued.
- The OBC (original birth certificate) is an important vital record that pertains to the adoptee, but control of that document rests in the hands of the natural parents who relinquished all rights! And this persists even after the adoptee reaches adulthood.
- HB 4623 creates two classes of adoptees: those born before 1946, who are entitled to their OBC and those born after January 1, 1946 who are not.
- HB 4623 allows birth parents wishing no contact to exercise an access veto. But no adult should have the ability to supercede another adult's right to THEIR OWN vital information.
- Confidential intermediary programs are not a substitute for equal rights under the law.
- There is no precedent in Illinois for any branch of the state government to withhold identity information from any of its adult citizens.
- Restoration of an adult's right of access to his/her own birth certificate is about identity. It has nothing to do with search, reunion and/or medical histories.
You can cite the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's report, "For the Records: Restoring a Legal Right for Adult Adoptees." This report explains that that states with unrestricted access to OBCs have had no recrimination, litigation or social havoc as a result of restoring adoptees' full civil rights. Not one of these states has sought to revoke or reverse the policy of open access. Abortions have not increased in any of these states; several have lower abortion rates than surrounding states with sealed records.
When writing your letter, make it short (250 words), and summarize the point of your letter in the very first sentence. Include your name, city, state, phone number and email address. More letter-writing tips can be found here:
- The members of the Illinois House of Representatives
- Illinois news media
Chicago Tribune: email@example.com
Daily Herald: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peoria (PJ Star): email@example.com
Springfield (Springfield Journal-Register): firstname.lastname@example.org
Champaign-Urbana (News-Gazette): email@example.com
- Use your zip code to find your local legislators
Please also copy your letter to the Green Ribbon Campaign. Thank you for your help!