Thursday, February 12, 2009


There are a lot of problems with CARE's proposed access bill in California: elitism, compromise, rejection of rights and grassroots, and its decision to go for a bill in the midst of California's economic dissolution.

After several comments posted in my earlier blog entry regarding the so-called constitutionality issue in records access in California, I intended to a make relatively short comment, but decided that topic and some other thoughts really need a separate entry. Below I discuss the constitutionality issue and make a couple observations on the coming California Fiasco.

This is not meant to be a definitive response. My comments are mine only, and do not represent CalOpen, which is perfectly capable of taking care of business itself.

The California Adoption Reform Effort (CARE) has shown little inclination to learn the history of past California records access campaigns, organize California adoptees outside the Amen Corner, build long-term relationships with leggies, or learn the lay of the Cal legislature, even with their pricey navigator…er... I mean lobbyist... at the helm.

Judging from CARE’s past disinterest in constitutional studies (see BB Church) and its recent lame de facto attempt to acquire a CalOpen-commissioned legal study (now in the possession of Bastard Nation) on state constitutional repercussions of a clean bill, suggests that it hasn’t commissioned research of its own, nor does it really care what research might say anyway. Seasoned rights-based activists working access bills know that CARE’s cry that pols have already evinced “privacy concerns” is a given. Pols hate controversy. “Privacy” is always “controversial.” (except when the government wants to snoop on us). It is always an issue when adoptee records access is concerned. Good research and preparation are what good activists do before they jump into the fire. CARE won’t win over everybody, but the hat they're holding in their hand won’t go up in smoke either, if they know what they're talking about.

CARE poobahs, however, just “know”that a clean records bill won’t pass state constitutional muster, a rather strange decision from an organization that claims its arguments are "non-emotional" and based on "statistical and empirical data.” Perhaps they’ve contracted Sylvia Brown to save them the trouble of actually paying for a study of their own (which may or may not back them up) and publishing the document for their supposed constituency to read and decide for themselves. Or maybe they're just lazy.

According to deformer logic, the way to pass a bill is to scissor out this and this and this until the bill is one big black hole in which to shove certain classes of unworthy adoptees. The bill has no value to anyone but the people who want their names on it. Those who fail to meet deformer criteria-- born the wrong year, lack parental consent, or some other arbitrary standard are, in the vernacular, shit outta luck.

If the bad bill fails, the same old deformers come back with the same old bad bill, with the same old "strategies" the next year and the next and the next and the next.

If the bad bill actually passes, riddled with exclusions (tiered access, disclosure vetoes, white-outs, mandated CIs, a registry, and whatever other sell-outs they can come up with), deformers claim victory, ignoring that they have eviscerated rights and created a vested interest in secrecy where none existed before, that most likely cannot be divested. In other words, certain classes of adoptees are screwed. If it saves just one....

How do deformers explain their logic to the shut-out and disenfranchised? They don’t.

A couple years ago the Massachusetts ABC group conveniently removed their names and contact information from their webpage, when, with their consent and support, their bill went south, excluding about 33 years of adoptees from access under their proud “access” law.

Records access is “non-partisan.” We would all love to support a clean bill in California, no matter who promotes it, as long as we know it is put forward by principled activists who know when to hold 'em and when to to fold ‘em. New Hampshire Senator Lou D’Alessandro knew. Sen. D demanded an up or down vote and got it. So did California Assembly Member Anthony Pescetti a few years ago, who pulled a bill. With CARE we know this won’t happen.

One of the most bothering declarations from CARE, outside of its claim that records access is not about rights, is its trivialization and marginalization of experienced, successful rights-based legislators and activists, articulated in its letter (see previous blogs below).

The Shut Up We Know What's Good For You Principle practiced alike by "friendly" deformers, the National Council for Adoption, the ACLU and anybody else who rejects adoptee autonomy is well articulated here:

There is going to be little room for debate on this if the time comes - we are being represented by a legislator who is in this to pass the legislation, not to make a statement.

Did Alabama Representative Jeff Dolabare fight a rights-based, no compromise campaign just to “make a statement”?

Did New Hampshire Senator Lou D’Allesandro and Representatives Janet Allen and Mike Whalley fight a rights-based, no compromise campaign just to “make a statement”?

Did Maine’s Representative David Farrington and Senator Paula Benoit fight a rights-based, no compromise campaign just to “make a statement”?

Did California Assembly Member Anthony Pescetti, sponsor of CalOpen’s AB 1349 (2001-2002) (and here) who had the integrity and moral fortitude to pull the bill rather than see it ruined, fight a rights-based, no compromise campaign just to “make a statement”?

Did Helen Hill in Oregon, Alabama AWARE , the New Hampshire coalition, and OBC for ME fight rights-based, no compromise campaigns just to "make a statement"?

Did CalOpen fight a rights based, no compromise campaign and give up its much-loved bill "just to make a statement"?

To say that the ideology of inclusion is merely a "statement" reduces the very real sacrifices of time, money, energy, family, friends and jobs that these pioneers and heroes made to nothing more than stunt status--a sideshow. I was at the statehouse in Sacramento the day that CalOpen decided to pull its bill. I saw the frustration, the anger, the open weeping of some who had worked so hard to get their bill as far as it had come. This was no stunt. This was courage.

CARE tells everybody outside of the anything-is-better-than-nothing crowd to go piss up a rope. We’re “professionals.” We know best.

CARE ignores both the historical successes in Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine and repeated deformist failures across the country including Minnesota, Connecticut, and bleeding New Jersey. It writes adoptees and bastards out of their scenario.

CARE has admitted that it will gut its clean bill to get something passed—hardly something that makes sense under a rights-for-all-based process (but then theirs is "wish based," anyway) or will gain the support of everyday bastards and adoptees.

This begs the question:

Who is really “making a statement’?


And what is it?


Anonymous said...

May I suggest the author simply state their position with a sensible rationale so that a reader can actually understand what is being said? By opening your comment with "a lot of problems", followed by "elitism, compromise, rejection of rights and grassroots, and its decision to go for a bill in the midst of California's economic dissolution" leaves a reader such as myself wondering what you are taking about. So now I'm reading just to see if you clarify such a meaningless sweeping opening! No, it just goes on and on with nonsense. I suggest you actually provide a brief overview of the legislation, what are the specific practical or ideology issues you see and why. Its not useful to ramble angrily and leave a reader not having a clue as to what you are talking about. Good luck! Just an outsiders observation. RT

Michelle said...

I have to agree. What is it that you DO want? This whole site seems like a rant.

Anonymous said...

I believe the meaningless ranting and unethical and rude statements are due to anger around "loss". It appears the author is quite angry for at least two reason: 1) Apparently the author is taking a Dogmatic like stand on "win MY clean bill or not at all and burn it down strategy..or 2)"Only we bastards get to play in the legislature sandbox, so give them back, they are our toys".

Even though they have FAILED BADLY in 2001 and the new fresh, well planned, smart plan like CARE, has them pissed because they will be shown up!!! It seems to me that the CARE approach looks smart, wise and sound so far. The devils in the details but it promising!

It would be sad if CARE failed to get a bill through California with some minimal restrictions protecting birth moms because of this NOISE. Rights and responsibilities must always be kept in balance at any one moment. That is tricky and the target moves so one needs to go with the today's current.. That is Care's approach.

Care seems to be proceeding along a sensible path. This silly "invasion of my territory" and "I want MY BILL cleaned how I want it" is the reason these people in BN are behaving poorly and giving BN a bad name. They seem to be willing to force every adoptee in CA to wait some unknown time 5-10-20 years until they simply get their records open. The whole movement was "OPEN RECORDS" This position is WRONG. Its like the classic "tree hugger" chained to the tree but in this case, the tree needs to be removed for safety and they chose the wrong tree.

If Care can get a bill passed with some form of contact protection that only impacts .02% of the people, that is a monster victory. Only 1 out of every 5 Thousand adoptees or birth mothers will encounter some issue.

That would mean that out of every 50 thousand adoptees that applied for their records in CA, only 10 mothers would express a concern and those can be worked out privately quite easily.

It would seem to me that the ideologists need to calm down and not give the entire adoptee group a bad name by slinging mud when its non appropriate.

This author suggest to that author that you mellow out. Don't rock the boat. help it. If it fails, you can have your toy back. If it passes then 99.98% of CA's adoptees finally get the respect they deserve getting through their own records with no strings. The .02% that have difficulties, could come out great or be painful. In any case, 100% of adoptees get to have their birth records and a great victory can be celebrated.

If this author and the small band of merry men and women want to jump in, do their homework on constitutional law, pay lots of money out of their pockets and try an red-line an improve the CARE document in 2-25 years - God Bless You!

Good Luck and May God Bless all the merry men and women and children Jupiter

Donald Duck

Anonymous said...

I attended the hearing on AB 1369 eight years ago and was impressed. The presenters made an outstanding case for open records. However, they failed to garner more than a few votes from the Committee. As I understand the history of the bill it's content conflicted with existing legislative protections and privacy considerations too broad for the Committee members to accept.

I have been involved in legislative advocacy organizations for fifty (50) years. During that time I have learned that legislation, like politics, is sometimes the art of the possible.

I support the CARE's 2009 effort because its intent is to accomplish as much in open records law as possible, maybe even full disclosure! It is time for all organizations to pull together in this effort. Dialogue and constructive criticism may lead to an improved bill. Unwarranted attacks and use of invective only divides supporters of open records law. I believe Cal Open and BN should pull toether with CARE.

How long must a person like myself wait to obtain an original birth certificate? May my children ever be able to know something of their real grandparent(s)? What personal knowledge will there be to add a bit of the roots of history to my family background? I hope the day is close to learn of these revelations.

Margaret Hendrick said...

Will people stop worrying about parents...what about siblings rights. I finally was able to meet them after 55 years, and they asked, what took you so long. This is not about parents. It is about our right as human beings to be connected with all the people who want to know us and love us. It is about giving our children and grandchildren our history, our ancestry that was taken away when we were adopted. What about those of us who lost all our adopted families. It does happen. At least I should be able to have back the family that never forgot me. We are not toys to be tossed around at others whims. We are getting older, and we have ancestors to give to our families without open records. People who are not involved with adoption all tell me that the records are opened, and are shocked to hear that they aren't. They always tell me how they would want to know who came before them on this earth. So why does the government have so much trouble seeing the injustice here.