For the record, Bastardette and Bastard Nation oppose the tortuously compromised S 611, passed by the New Jersey Senate on Monday 30-7. The bill allows some adoptees to get their original birth certificates while others, slapped with a disclosure veto, get the sanitized white-out version. There are other restrictions, too. I haven’t written about the Jersey situation lately, but my blog Settling for Less Than You Deserve on the 2006 look-alike bill will fill you in. (For more NJ entries just type in to Bastardette’s Blogger search engine).

That said, it’s been entertaining in a sick sort of way to watch New Jersey’s adoptee haters, legalized child traffickers, religious conversionists, and identity thieves bloviate over ungrateful adoptees and their rights. To hear the Catholic Church’s affiliate hornswogglers — The Catholic Conference, New Jersey Right to Life,and the Knights of Columbus–talk, even limited government respect for adoptees and their rights will cause the state to break off and fall into the Atlantic.

Patrick J. Brannigan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, for instance, holds the quaint belief that first parents just “move on” after surrender since the state seals their pasts as tight as a tomb, leaving them to tip toe through the tulips permanently. On January 24, he testified before the New Jersey Senate :

The assurance of secrecy regarding the identity of the natural parents enables them to place the child for adoption with a reputable agency, with the knowledge that their actions and motivations will not become public knowledge… Assured of this privacy by the State, the natural parents are free to move on and attempt to rebuild their lives after what must be a traumatic and emotionally tormenting episode in their lives.”

This, of course, is nothing new. But these people are scared. Really really really really scared. So scared that…

Last month,Mr. Brannigan and Marlene Lao-Collins, director of the Catholic Conference’s social concerns office ramped up their tripefurious crusade. They issued an alert (only now making adoptanet rounds through the Trenton Diocese Respect Life Today website ) to “birth parents,” inviting them to contact the Conference office, confidentially, of course, to help create for legislators a compendium of anonymous and speculative horror stories about the ghastly consequences of their very own flesh and blood offspring being treated legally the same as the not-adopted.

This call to action sounds pretty dangerous to me. Apparently, Mr. Brannigan and Ms. Lao-Collins have never read The Girls Who Went Away or heard of Origins-USA, CUB, and unaffiliated pissed off first parents who would love nothing more than to tie up their phone lines and stuff the Conference’s ears full of stories of coercion, exploitation, threats, shame, secrets, and unethical and illegal baby-taking by its Catholic Charities subsidiary.

Mr. Brannigan sees himself as the spokesman for emotionally tormented and traumatized women who place their children for adoption., except when Ms. Lao-Collins speaks for adoptive parents who “have taken into their home a child whom they will regard as their own and whom they will love and raise as an integral part of their family unit.”

Thankfully, Pat and Mar haven’t deemed emotionally tormented and traumatized placees important enough to speak for them, too, though Ms. Lao-Collins assures us, “As the friend of several adult adoptees, I understand their desire to know their origins.” Some of my best friends are…

Ms. Lao-Collins (or her surrogate at Respect Life) says that the Conference wants the legislature to act as a “Solomon” and rely on “the testimony of the mother to render a verdict.” (no mention of dads). That is, the Conference wants the legislature to listen to the tumbrells of terrified “birth mothers” they expect to ring their phones off the hook, and to grant them a special right as a class, that no other mother or adult has over another adult: the right to bar the state from issuing them a non-fictive birth certificate.

Ms. Lao-Collins needs to spend more time with her Old Testament and less time recruiting anonymous headbag ladies to do her dirty work.

The Biblical “Solomon’s Judgment” (1 Kings 3: 16-28) (ESV) is the tale of two prostitutes who come to King Solomon asking him to decide the fate of a single baby boy. The women say they live in the same house and both gave birth recently. Soon after the births, one woman accidentally smothered her newborn in her sleep. In anguish and jealously, she exchanged her dead baby with the live baby of the other woman as she slept. The first woman wants her baby returned to her. The second woman denies the accusation, calls the baby her own, and wants to keep him. Who’s telling the truth?

After ruminating a bit, Solomon calls for his sword, declaring there is only one fair solution: the baby must be split in two with each woman receiving half. The boy’s true mother cries out, “Oh my lord, give her the live child – and by no means put him to death.” The second mother counters, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.” Solomon quickly sees that the first mother is the true mother whose only interest is to protect her child. The second mother is revealed to be a jealous liar and sent away empty handed and disgraced.

Boy, could any worse metaphor for adoption have been chosen to push the Conference’s agenda? Who thought it would be a good idea for the Catholic Conference to compare with prostitutes (in the King James Version, they are harlots), the very women, who for centuries their church has stigmatized, declared sexually transgressive and unfit for motherhood, locked up in maternity homes, convents, and laundries and taken their children from them?

The narrative of Solomon’s Judgment when interpreted through the lens of contemporary adoption practice stands the New Jersey Catholic’s Conference Solomonic plea on its head: the successful attempt of a natural mother to overturn the fraudulent adoption of her son. When the king offers to slice and dice the baby to give him to both, the natural mother lays down her plea because she wants what is best for her child, and thus, “loses” through love. The adoptive mother–(or better yet, the Catholic Conference?)–agrees to the scheme. If I can’t have him nobody can. The king seeing through the second woman’s ruse, returns the baby to his rightful mother. Many a first mother’s dream!

Now the New Jersey Catholic Conference, even though it’s none of their business, believes that the state should keep the birth records of all its adoptees sealed from them. But what happens when the first mothers they so romantically portray as meek and scared, and recruit to their lair, tell them to go to hell, get your hands off my kid’s life,nose out of our lives, and unseal the records? That’s s just what first moms are doing: sending emails to Ms. Lao-Collins and Respect Life Today–not with the desired horror stories of exposure and shame but of adoption industry abuse. You can do it, too. Just go over to the link to the article for contact information.

We’ll see just how much the New Jersey Catholic Conference let’s these mothers “render the verdict.”


  1. Here is my letter, hope they enjoy it:-)


    Dear Ms. Roger,

    I heard that you had asked for the feelings of birthmothers. I surrendered a son in 1968, so I qualify to speak to that issue. I am also a practicing Catholic, in the choir and parish council at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Whippany. I am very distressed that my church is opposing adoptee rights under the guise of “protecting birthmothers”. I neither want nor need “protection” from my own son, who is a 40 year old adult and entitled to the same rights as other adult citizens, including access to his original birth certificate.

    When I surrendered my son, I gave up ALL parental rights. I was promised nothing. I certainly was not promised anonymity. I have the surrender paper I signed, and it contains no promises and gives no rights to me. Nobody cared about me when I surrendered. Why is something I was supposedly promised which I did not want and never heard of so important now that it is used to deny adopted adults their civil rights? Why should any parent have this kind of authority over what an adult child may know or see?

    I am reunited with my son, and was able to give him information, including medical, in a private way without the state intruding, as one adult speaking to another. This is as it should be. But that is not the point of adoptee rights legislation, which is only about the birth certificate, not about the private and personal matter of any relationship that may develop.

    This is issue is not about adoptees versus birthparents, nor is it about competing rights of any sort. I have been active in adoption reform groups since 1976 and have had contact with many other surrendering mothers. We overwhelmingly support adoptee rights, even though our support should not be a major concern. Enlightened adoptive parents also overwhelmingly support their adult children. The “anonymous birthmother” is just a straw figure that our opponents hide behind. I am so glad you have asked for feedback from real birthmothers, as I am sure you will get lots. We are so tired of others using us and our silence to further an agenda we abhor.

    PLEASE get beyond the hysteria our opponents have generated and look at states that have always had open records, like Kansas, or the growing number of states like New Hampshire, Oregon, and Maine that have more recently opened theirs. NOTHING terrible has happened in these states. Life goes on, adoption goes on, abortions have not increased.Research it yourself. Although not everyone who wants their original birth certificate searches or makes contact, for those who do, the numbers of welcoming birthparents greatly outnumber those who want no contact. The majority of surrendering mothers are glad to hear from their adult children. Those who are not can express the wish not to meet, and those wishes are honored. The horror stories predicted do not happen. Please look at what is actually happening in states that have open records rather listening to fear-mongers going on about what “might” occur.The sky isn’t falling. Chicken Little and those who oppose adoptee rights are wrong.

    This issue is about rights, the right of adopted adult citizens to be treated the same as other adult citizens in regards to their original birth certificate. It is not really about reunions. The fact is, sealed records have never prevented search, contact or reunion. Check out any adoptee or birthparent search and support group to verify this.People have been finding each other for years by other means, and will continue to do so. Sealed records protect nobody. They are a mistaken social policy that have caused great pain to many, and it is time the state rectified this injustice to adopted citizens. This is not in any way dangerous, anti-life, or controversial, just an idea whose time is long overdue in NJ and other states. It is certainly an idea that Catholics in good conscience can and do support.

    PLease try to see that Catholics should be favor of openness, honesty, charity and love in adoption, not fear and enforced secrets and lies. The truth sets EVERYONE free. If you are honest about wanting to know what birthmothers really want and what their experience has been, I hope this letter and others like it help to open your eyes and your heart.

    Thanks for your time, and feel free to share this letter with anyone.

    Mary Anne

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