Bastard Nation Letter to the Illinois Senate: Vote NO on HB 5428

Below is Bastard Nation’s edited-down-from-testimony letter to the Illinois Senate asking members to VOTE NO. Please contact Senators and tell them to stop this travesty. Go to the BN Action Alert for more information, including contact information.

HB 5428 is misleading. The bill’s stated purpose and its final product are diametrically opposed. The bill simply beefs up the current confidential intermediary/registry system that controls adoptee access to their own public records and adds penalties for so-called “misuse” of information from the registry.

1. conflates rights with reunion. It confuses OBC access with contact with a parent. It retains the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Exchange (IARME), and currently outsources the registry process to the privately owned Midwest Adoption Center as the OBC gateway; thus, keeping the vital records of the state’s adoptees at the mercy and whim of “confidential intermediaries” and paid “searchers” in an inherently arbitrary system accountable to no one.

2. vacates, though parental disclosure veto power (see #4) 750 ILCS 50/10) (from Ch. 40, par. 1512) FINAL AND IRREVOCABLE CONSENT TO ADOPTION

3. divides Illinois’ adopted citizens into two arbitrary classes based solely on date of birth: worthy and unworthy. Worthies are born before January 1, 1946. Their OBC is released upon request–like the not-adopted. Unworthies are born after that date. Their OBC release is subject to a lengthy menu of regulations, restrictions and other people’s decisions about access, none of which are under the adult adoptee’s control.

4.subjects Unworthies to five subcategories of parental permission. These categories are no based in a public or civil rights /equal protection and treatment paradigmn. but on state-granted privilege. The bill predicates release on a “special right” for parents whose rights were terminated decades ago, which no other parent or adult has: a special right to deny another adult his or her own birth certificate.

5, forces adopted persons who have been denied their birth certificates, to wait FIVE years before they can appeal the decision.

6. levies a minimum $10,000 punitive damage claim, payable to the “sought- after relative against any individual—a CI, state employee, even the adopted person– who uses information allegedly received from the IARME to identify the relative who has requested “anonymity.” How the source of information is to be determined is anybody’s guess.

7. includes a provision for a massive taxpayer funded public information This cost does not include the cost of retention of separate birth, adoption and registry records, general maintenance of IARME, and outsourced searches which the state has no legal or fiscal responsibility to pursue.

Under normal circumstances, competitive rights and their balancing is a problem only when there is a conflict of rights. Since there is also a presumed right to own one’s birth certificate, and no “right” to anonymity from one’s own offspring, there is nothing that needs balanced.

The Illinois legislature needs to put its money where its mouth is. The introduction of HB 5428 reads: The General Assembly recognizes that it is the basic right of all persons to access their birth records, and, to this end, supports public policy that allows an adult adoptee to access his or her original birth certificate. The rest of the bill guts that “recognition of that “basic right.”

Please make that that “basic right” a reality and come back with a real OBC access bill that treats all of Illinois’ adopted equal to its not-adopted. Please vote NO.

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