Friday, April 18, 2008

OHIO: Update on HB 7--Records Access Removed!

On Wednesday April 16, HB 7 (as introduced) was replaced with Sub (stitute) HB 7 which removed records access altogether. (The sub bill is not posted yet on the Ohio Leg page but can be found here under LSC ). A vote on the sub bill was delayed a week to give interested parties and pols time to respond. The schedule for next week's hearing won't be released for a couple days. I'll post it here and send it elsewhere as soon as I have it. It will probably be on Wednesday.

BEAOhio and Bastard Nation are very concerned that even if access is returned to the sub-bill, the bill may end up compromised with a disclosure veto, beefed up CI/Registry scheme, etc. The Ohio Catholic Conference, for instance, recommended that the legislature create a new and improved active reunion registry (it is now passive) in which the state would have 18 months, after an adoptee requests his or her identifying information, to obtain birth parent approval or veto for release of the document. After that period, if there is no word from the parent(s) the obc would be released. Yeah, the under-staffed, under-funded and over-worked Vital Stats folks will really fly with that one! And if you don't think that what happens in other states stays in other states, the OCC notes that this recommendation was lifted from an adopted proposal from the Catholic Conference of New Jersey.

Adoption Network Cleveland, which has worked on this bill for more than a year, has offered the contact preference form to lighten the load, and we agree with that offer. But adoptee rights opposition, most of whom believe that records access = abortion, will want much more. (NOTE: This is not a BEAOhio or Bastard Nation bill. It is part of a larger adoption and fostercare reform package initiated by the legislature).

Even if unrestricted records access is returned to sub bill 7 we are greatly concerned that 1996 (to now) disclosure vetoes will be honored. A bill that honors those vetoes and permits future vetoes is not a clean bill. Passage of such a bill would permit the state to continue treating adopted persons as second rate citizens and continue to let a small number of individuals practice special rights.

I'll post the action alert as soon as possible. In the meantime go to My Space BEAOhio and Adoption Network Cleveland for more information about the bill.

I'll be at the hearing!

Friday, April 04, 2008


Recently, an Illinois adoptee sent me an email from Melisha Mitchell regarding HB 4623's provision on deceased birth parents. In it Ms. Mitchell makes the astounding claim that 80-90% of Illinois adoptees already know the names of their birthparents, particularly the names of their first mothers! I am publishing this letter in full, with permission of the recepient, but am withholding the name upon request. I have highlighted the most egregious statements in yellow.

Dear XXX:

Thanks for all your (really good) questions regarding the pending Illinois legislation. I was in Springfield last week, and came home to dozens of emails on the bill...including yours...and shall do my utmost to answer your questions...

In a message dated xxx, XXX writes:

>Will birth parent "requests for anonymity" eventually expire under HB 4623?

Yes, under the proposed law, all birth parent requests for anonymity through
the Registry will expire upon the birth parent's death.

>How will the State of Illinois know when/if the birth parent has died? I can see if a death >certificate is issued in Illinois - what about anywhere else in the world?

As you point out, if the birth parent died in Illinois (or was born in Illinois, which would require Illinois to receive notice of the birth parent's death), there is no issue to proving that they are deceased. Many Illinois adoptees know their birth parents' names (80 to 90% of the adoption decrees issued in Illinois list the birth mother's full name...and adoption decrees are available to the adoptive parents upon request (as long as they're alive, obviously). As a result, most adoptees in this state do have their birth parent's names. One of the reasons why we added the provision that allows an adoptee who is the subject of a request for anonymity to search again, at no cost, once five or more years have elapsed since the request for anonymity was filed is that a state intermediary is authorized to obtain a death certificate from any state in the US (regardless of what that state's rules are about the release of an obc). If the state intermediary can confirm a birth parent's death and obtains a birth parent's death certificate, this info (death of birth parent) will be relayed to the adoptee who would then receive their obc. This is a tricky provision, though, as some states do place limitations on who can obtain a death certificate (although they have no way of verifying, for example, if someone who says they are the daughter/son of someone is indeed that person's daughter or son)...

Adoptees who find little or no information on their original birth certificates, as well as those who find very common names, may find it helpful to seek assistance through either the agency that handled the adoption, the state intermediary program, or a post-adoption program like that offered by the White Oak Foundation.

As I outlined (sort of) above, most Illinois adoptees will find their birth mother's name on their adoption decree. Although this legislation does not release the adoption decree (which is freely available to adoptive parents in this state--as long as they are alive) to adult adoptees, it is likely that this issue will be addressed in future legislation. Adopted persons who have no information at all (no last name or first name for the birth parent) and were born in Chicago before 1962 can find their birth names in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (and our organization helps adoptees born before 1962 to get this info at no charge). It is less likely that an original birth certificate issued in the 60s or 70s would be blank, but for those rare cases, the state intermediary program would probably be helpful as state intermediaries are able to obtain agency files, court files, relinquishment papers (which often include the birth mother's full name and date of birth) and other documents which should allow them to successfully locate the birth parent or surviving birth siblings if the birth parent is deceased.

>What recourse does an adoptee have if he or she receives an original birth >certificate that is >blank or lists an alias? Will the information that SHOULD have been on the birth certificate (i.e. >identifying information) be made available to the adoptee or is this considered a de facto >"disclosure veto"?

Wow. What a great idea (releasing the info that should have been on the obc to the adult adoptee)...but not one that was included in this bill. It is likely that the issue of the release of the adoption decree (which almost always includes the birth mother's last name, and includes her first name 80 to 90% of the time) to adult adoptees will be taken up in subsequent legislation...this bill only deals with the release of an original birth certificate to an adult adopted person and how birth parents can relay their wishes regarding contact or the release of their identity...

I am attaching to this email a chart that I've put together which shows how things are in Illinois under current statute and how they would be if the proposed law is signed by the Governor. If you have any additional questions after reading the chart, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them!!

Melisha Mitchell
Executive Director
The White Oak Foundation

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Here are some recent comments from Illinois Open's

Anita Field.
"Curiously," we only learned of the impending March 12 introduction of Amendment 1 (aka a re-write of the bill) on Monday March 10 in an article in the Chicago Trib. Tuesday, March 11 Anita entered the hospital for scheduled surgery. We were told by Feigenholtz's office that the vote on Wednesday would be on the "new language only" not the bill itself. On Wednesday, the bill passed out of committee after a show hearing whlie Anita was in surgery.

See previous entry for Reform Coalition statement on HB 4623.

We aren't going away!

Dear Illinois Open Friends,

Thank you all for your support during the days when Representative Feigenholtz was preparing her bill. I tried my hardest to let her know that adoptees don't want restrictions put upon them by the state. She countered by saying I'm living in a dream world and don't understand the underbelly of politics.

I worked very hard to persuade Representative Feigenholtz that the time was right for a clean bill, one that would help all adoptees equally. I know many of you wrote to her not once, but several times, without ever receiving a reply. We tried to tell her we don't want to be tied to the state's apron strings any longer, but she didn't listen to us.

Instead Representative Feigenholtz followed her own path – one of "compromise," the very same path she chose to go down 13 years ago.

With HB 4623 Representative Feigenholtz has put some of us adoptees in a potentially divided position and that's too bad. If she had introduced a pure bill that would have given equal rights to every adopted citizen, we would all be moving forward and working together now.

But she didn't.

Personally, I am opposed to HB 4623. I will not support it under any circumstances and I will speak out against it whenever I can.

I'm stepping back from Illinois Open for awhile because I'm finding that I need more time to recuperate from my surgery.

One of these days soon I'll be back blogging. Stay tuned to www.grannieannie.orG


On March 28, 2008 Adoption Reform Illinois issued a letter to members of the Illinois House of Representatives and the media. The letter was signed by Illinois Open director Anita Field Walker, Green Ribbons Illinois representative Triona Guidry and 27 prominent adoption reform leaders urging the defeat of HB 4623, a so-called records access bill which would open records to some Illinois adoptees while trapping many in the lucrative Illinois Adoption Registry. (More names may be added to the protest at a later date.) Background leading to this letter can be found in several Bastardette entries for February and March 2008. Later tonight I will post Anita Field's personal comments about HB 4623 and tomorrow I will publish Melisha Mitchell's claims regarding the bill and opponents. Additional commentary will follow in the days and weeks to come.



Attn: News Director March 28, 2008

For Immediate Release Contact: Triona Guidry

Adoption Reform Coalition Urges: Reject HB 4623

We, the undersigned members of the adoption community, urge legislators to oppose Illinois House Bill 4623. As written, this bill offers some adopted adults the chance to access their original birth certificates, while banning others from accessing theirs.

Illinois adoptees should be treated the same as non-adopted Illinoisans who face no birth certificate access restrictions. We urge legislators to reject the current compromise language of this flawed bill, and to create a new bill that will restore the civil right, rescinded in 1945, of all Illinois adopted adults to access their original birth certificates without bureaucratic restraint or third party interference.

This bill is merely a convoluted extension of the existing mandatory intermediary system. It turns equal access to adoptees' public records into a question of search and reunion, instead of addressing the civil right of all persons to access their original birth certificates.

Our organizations are united in our concern that the amended bill was not the bill that was posted for weeks on the Illinois legislative web site. This amended bill was not available online until March 13, 2008, the day the bill passed through committee, making it impossible to present testimony.

“For The Records: Restoring A Right To Adult Adoptees,” a comprehensive study published by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, examines the issue:

Access to one’s own birth certificate is not a favor to some, but a right for all.

Anita Walker Field
Illinois Open

Triona Guidry
Green Ribbon Campaign for Open Records

The attached PDF gives background material about the bill to help your reporter in preparing an article. (NOTE: I'm having with the URL to this. I will post it later...Bastardette)

The Hon. Janet Allen
New Hampshire House of Representatives

Marley Greiner
Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

Ann Wilmer
Green Ribbon Campaign for Open Records

Bonnie Pazdan Pierce Spinazze
Co-Founder: Illinois Coalition for Truth in Adoption

Mary L. Fuller
Founder, FamAdopt
Illinois Born and Adopted

Trish Maskew
Linh Song, MSW
Executive Director
Ethica, Inc.

Ron Morgan
Kali Coultas
Day For Adoptee Rights

Sandy White Hawk
Executive Director
First Nations Orphan Association

Melissa Holub, Ph.D.
Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D.
Adoption Counselor
Author, Journey of the Adopted Self:
A Quest for Wholen

Carol Schaefer
The Other Mother:
A Woman's Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption

Sally Howard
Finding Me In A Paper Bag

Sandra K. Musser
I Would Have Searched Forever

Rick Ouston
Finding Family

Donna Montalbano
Host: Speaking of Adoption

Lindsay Woodside
Missouri Adult Adoptee Rights Coalition (MAARC)
Missouri Open

Pat Marler
Oklahomans for Adoption Reform and Honesty

Betsie Norris
Founder/Executive Director
Adoption Network Cleveland

Sheila Ganz
Bay Area Birthmothers
Unlocking the Heart of Adoption

Erik L. Smith
Paralegal, Birthfather advocate, author

Mary Anne Cohen
CUB member since 1976

Peter Christian Mose
Illinois Born and Adopted
Arts Educator

Gerald Bailey
Illinois Adoptee
Retired Educator

Msgr. John W. Sweeley, Th.D.
Adoptee and Adoptive Father
Adoptee Rights Activist
Author of the forthcoming
Rights, Liberties, and Social Justice

David Kruchkow
Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform