Bastard Nation’s Letter to the New Jersey General Assembly – May 7, 2011 – VOTE NO on A1406

RE: Please vote NO on A1406/S700: 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 A1406/S799: the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill.

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 privilege of “birthparents” to remove their names from the birth certificates of their own adult offspring. No other parent has that right. Why should “birthparents,” whose parental rights were terminated decades ago, have different rights,privileges, and rules?

A1406/S799 is promoted as an “adoptees’ 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 may be 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 the 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 to him or her. 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. Of the four states that have repealed sealed records laws, approximately 17,000 OBCs have been released with no 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 privileges doled out to some by government and special interest groups. A1406/S799 does not restore the right to the OBC once enjoyed by all New Jersey adoptees.

Please vote DO NOT PASS on A1406/S799. New Jersey does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or parental preference All of the New Jersey’s adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. New Jersey adoptees deserve better than this current legislation. The all deserve their original birth certificates without restriction.

For the record, Bastard Nation does not support an alternative bill, S2586/A3672, bills introduced in January which also restrict OBC access.

Yours truly,

Marley E. Greiner
Executive Chair, Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization

614-571-2999 (cell)

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.

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