Friday, April 08, 2011

Rhode Island: Bastard Nation Testimony in Support of H5453

SB 5453
an act to permit adoptees to obtain
a non-certified copy of their original birth certificates

Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee

April 12, 2011


Privilege is the opposite of rights

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, upon request, of their own true, unaltered original birth certificates (OBC). We fully support HB 5453 and its companion S0361. We support no other bill in either chamber.
Bastard Nation is delighted to endorse and support SB 5453, a bill that restores the right of all Rhode Island adopted persons, without restrictions or conditions, to access their original birth certificates upon request.
  • SB 5453 is inclusive. The bill, as written, is a simple-to-understand measure that recognizes the presumed right of all Rhode Island adults--adopted and not adopted-- to unrestricted access and ownership of their true birth certificates.
  • SB 5453 is about rights not reunion. It is about the relation of adoptees to the state. Search and reunion are personal matters outside of government control and mediation.
  • SB 5453 maintains the current level of adoption "confidentiality"" and practice. Adoption records are sealed upon finalization, not relinquishment. If an adoption petition is rejected by the courts, or the petition is withdrawn, the birth certificate remains unsealed. If an adoption is overturned or disrupted, the birth certificate is unsealed. Even in traditional closed adoptions first parent identities are often recorded on court documents given to adoptive parents without first parent consent. Similarly, legal advertisements with identifying information are often published, and courts may open adoption records for “good cause” without first parent consent. Most significantly, if a child is never adopted the birth certificate is never sealed. Thus, if sealing birth certificates was meant to hide parental identities absolutely, records would be sealed upon relinquishment, not finalization
SB 5453 does not open original birth certificates to the public. Original birth certificates are unsealed only to the adoptees and designated persons, not the public.

Access Access to original birth certificates guarantees that adopted persons can prove their citizenship status and "legal identity." Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances due discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems.

Adoptees without a genuine original birth record could soon be barred from running for public office. At least 10 states have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present their original birth certificates to appropriate authorities to prove citizenship eligibility for office. Some of these bills go farther, mandating anyone running for office to prove citizenship through an original birth certificate. It is no stretch to think that someday soon adoptees could be barred from voting due to lack of “legal” identity over problematic amended birth certificates, and the perpetual sealing of the originals.

Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the latter four states have been released with no reported ill consequences.

Rights are for all citizens, not favors or privileges for some. Rhode Island does not privilege rights by race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not privilege rights by adoptive status.

SB 5453 gives Rhode Island lawmakers the opportunity to lead the country in positive adoption reform by restoring adoptee civil rights in the state. The bill will harm no one, but will restore equality, dignity, and fairness to adopted persons and their biological and adopted families Please vote YES on SB 5453. It's the right thing to do!

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee's historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Missouri SB 351: Passes Senate; Bastard Subservience in the Name of Protection and Shame Continues

Really bad SB 351 passed the Senate yesterday. I don't have the count right now. While the passage of this bill is enough bad news for one day, new language has been added to the perfected bill to make the day even darker:

If the biological parents have consented to the release of identifying information under subsection [11] 10 of this section, the court shall disclose such identifying information to the adopted adult or the adopted adult's lineal descendants if the adopted adult is deceased. If the biological parents were married to each other at the time of the request for identifying information or at the time of death of one of the biological parents, the information shall not be released until the death of the surviving biological parent, unless the surviving biological parent consents to such release.

In other words: more restrictions, more red tape, and more third party consents to keep bastards subservient to the state and our birth records locked up.

It's worth noting that SB 351 and its companion HB 427 are supported by Missouri Catholic Charities. Below is a comment we received on Bastard Nation's testimony entry posted on the Daily Bastardette:

Yes, SB 351 and the HB 427 companion bill are both search-based not rights bills crafted by MO's Catholic Conference and MO paid searcher, Laura Long, and sponsored by lawmakers who, no surprise here, happen to be Catholic.

Laura Long is a court CI and has her own search business on the side with a different email addy from her court business with a "pay now" link. She's announced at her blog if law is passed it will be like winning the lottery. For her, of course.

At the Senate hearing this week the sponsor, an adoptive father of 3 kids all adopted from abroad, stated while the bill referred to us as adult adoptees he wanted us to be known as "adult orphans". (Honestly, you can't make this stuff up). He began by saying we want information about our adoptive parents LOL then later changed it to bpars.

For the past decade MO's CWLA agencies have done nothing to help change MO law, and one in particular has supported keeping the vetoes. On OBC bills, I no longer think CWLA has any credibility.

Signing out as a MO Adult Orphan though I wasn't.

SB 351 has moved to the House where it received it's first reading on April 7.

For more about about SB 351 read Bastard Nation's testimony.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rhode Island: Providence Journal Supports Clean Bill S0361/H5453!

From the editorial page of today's Providence Journal:

People in the Senate have been blocking change on a number of fronts. For instance, the Senate leadership last year absurdly wanted to change the bill to allow access to original birth certificates only to those 18 or over and born after Jan. 1, 2011! That largely defeats the purpose of the clean bill above...

We implore the Senate to stop holding up this legislation. It should promptly pass Senate Bill 0361 (the sister House version is H 5453) and let adoptees know this vital information about themselves.

Read the entire editorial and voice your support at the link above!

H5453 will be heard in RI House Judiciary on April 12. Bastard Nation will submit our support testimony this week and later post it on Daily Bastardette and the Bastard Nation blog page.

For more information on submitting your own written testimony for H5453 contact:

Roberta Di Mezza
Committee Secretary

Also contact Judiciary Committee members. Go here now for our action alert and committee contact information.

Make Rhode Island #7!

ADDENDA: I was in a hurry yesterday and forgot the add the caveat that the editorial stresses medical history--again. It is imperative that medical history never be used in any argument for records access. It has no relation to our right to our own OBCs. No one has a right to someone else's medical history. Stressing this potential "benefit" of OBC access dilutes the rights message, and can end in laws that create anonymous registries and other anti-rights legislation.

Medical history arguments are as specious as opposition claims that adoptees will "track down" parents and harm them. All rights have consequences, but cannot be restored, "granted" or denied on grounds of potential reactions.

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