This is yesterday’s submitted testimony in opposition to H1406/S799. I did not post this until this morning because I didn’t want our testimony to be read by NJCare and supporters
beforehand. Unfortunately, the bill passed out of committee. More on that later.
A1406/S799: Adoptees Birthright Bill
Privilege is the opposite of right
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 oppose A11406 and its companion bill S799 already passed in the Senate.
A1406/S799 permits some New Jersey adopted adults to receive their true and accurate original birth certificates. Others, through the compromise language of the birthparent disclosure veto, will receive only a false and mutilated government document with the name and address of the parent(s) bureaucratically excised by the Department of Health and Senior Services by order of the birthparent(s).
Bastard Nation rejects this special veto right of “birthparents” to remove their names from the birth certificates of their own adult offspring. No other parent has that right. Why should “birthparents” have different rights and rules?
A1406/S799 is promoted as an “adoptee birthright” and OBC “access bill.” Unfortunately, it is neither. The bill reinforces out-dated adoption secrecy through the disclosure veto. It also seals by default, the OBCs of babies surrendered under the state’s “safe haven” program (apparently whether they are adopted later or not) even though a good number of these children are born to identified parents. What name and “official” state identity papers those never adopted will have is not addressed in the bill.
A1406/S799 requires birthparents, under specific circumstances, to submit a medical and health history to the state, a requirement that is most likely illegal under HIPAA and other privacy laws. No one has a right to anyone’s medical history. Medical histories have nothing to do with birth certificates and have no connection to right of all adopted persons to their own OBC.
Finally, A1406/S799 includes a fiscal bill of $90,000 to advertise the law if it is passed. At a time when Governor Christie is proposing massive cuts in education and social welfare programs and instituting wage caps, this advertising campaign is an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money.
For nearly three decades we have heard the claim that biological parents have been promised anonymity from their own offspring who were placed for adoption, yet not one document has ever been presented in New Jersey or any other state to show that so-called promise.
In fact, courts have found that “birthparents do not have any legal expectation of anonymity.” (Doe v Sundquist, 943 F. Supp. 886, 893-94 (M.D. Tenn. 1996)) (06 F.3d 703, 705 (6th Cir. 1997)) (Does v Oregon, Summary Judgment Oregon State Court of Appeals) (Does v. State of Oregon, 164 Or.App. 543, 993 P.2d 833, 834 (1999)). Moreover, OBCs are sealed at the time of adoption finalization not surrender, and the birth certificate of any child not adopted is left unsealed and available not only to him or her but to the public at large. If an adoption is disrupted, the birth certificate is unsealed.
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. Why should New Jersey buck the tide and pass a bill that continues to treat adoptee access to their own birth certificates as a privilege not a right–a right that the non-adopted enjoy without a second thought?
Rights are for all citizens, not favors doled out to some by government and special interest groups. A1406/799 does not restore the right to the OBC once enjoyed by all New Jersey adoptees.
Please go back and create a clean bill that restores the rights of all adoptees to full citizenship or kill this discriminatory bill that does nothing but grant privileges to some and blacklists others. New Jersey does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or parental preference.
Vote DO NOT PASS on A1406/S799. All of the New Jersey’s adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. New Jersey adoptees deserve better than this!
Submitted by Marley Greiner
June 2, 2010
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization
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.
Well put, Marley. That whole fantasy of some sort of guaranteed “anonymity” for natural mothers is such a farce. These lawmakers know that any confidentiality measures were only for the benefit of those who adopted. How many times do we have to say this for them to hear us? I have written and hope they will read. The ONLY anonymity most of us were ever given or told to expect was what was given us while we were in the maternity homes. Even that was protection for our families from the wagging tongues of our communities.
The real problem is our “friends” who are passing this off as a “rights” bill when it’s not. It’s an anti-rights bill. It co-opts the language of bastard rights, while accepting the language of the opposition. Vetoes are OK since there will only be a few who are blacklisted. How can this ever be considered “rights” when what this bill is about is favors?
Oh, and it’s OK to extort medical histories. What in the hell does that have to with a civil right to your own birth record?
One of the many bottom lines: this bill is going to create a whole new set of NJ sealed records- those of the babydump kids, some of whom are actually boarder babies, born in hospitals to identified mothers. This bill will strip them of their access.
When some of those “safe havened” kids pass on into foster care, they will be foster kids with sealed records. (Normally foster kids retail access, it is only upon adoption that their records are sealed.
If NJ passes this bill, it’s creating whole new classs of sealed records kids.
Genuine adoptee rights cannot be “won” off the backs and rights of abandoned children.
This bill is a sick co-optation of genuine open records work.
If passed the end result will be more generations screwed over by a new sealed records system.