Longtime Bastard activist and Marin Maven Denise Fuller Castellucci (center) has a great blog today: AB 372 Insults Adopted Persons Deni was part of CalOpen’s AB 1349 campaign in 2001-2002.

Here’s a sample:

My parents were told by the system that we would get all the information when I turned 18. It was a lie. Instead, I would get non-identifying information. What was blocked out with a black pen was completely arbitrary. An adult adoptee in Marin County got her non-id info on a small index card. It is hard to describe what it is like not being trusted with the facts of my own birth. It assumes as an adult I cannot handle the truth and be trusted to be responsible with it. In the eyes of the government I am either a perpetual infant or a potential stalker.

Also check out BB Church’s latest on the California Catastrophe.

Note on picture: not a single doctor or social worker in the bunch.


  1. I don’t understand, since it has become pretty common knowledge that the goal with AB372 is to rewrite the bill without the court system involved, that the official word is it is a “place holder” bill.

    Why would the idea that we should oppose the bill at this point be anything but misinformation?

    How is that helpful?

  2. Okay, I know that. I am afraid of that.

    This bill no longer “belongs” to CARE though, although I understand that they are influential, more so than say, AAAFC, but they are also saying that while they are willing to compromise, they would rather not.

    Are you taking the position that we should reject an uncertain outcome?

    I am really trying to understand.

  3. Why isn’t the placeholder bill clean? All I can write about is the bill as it is written. This organization has expressed that they are willing to compromise, so I don’t know if I can trust them to work for a clean bill. Can I trust them?

    My concern that any group that can entertain compromise will not be able to articulate the rights argument that is at the heart of what we have all struggled for. Either we are going to be treated like all other citizens in the vital records office or not.

    Another concern is that the use the whole right to privacy argument to justify that they may not have a clean bill, ignores all the case law that says clearly that the right to privacy does not extend to birth mothers and their offspring.

    I cannot accept any bill that makes me jump through more hoops than any other citizen to get MY information. Why is it that a law abiding, tax paying citizen have to go to a judge or enter into an arcane system of intermediaries to get my own information about my birth?

    When you accept compromise legislation it basically it is an acceptance that we have no right to our own information and that we need to relinquish our rights to complete strangers who will arbitrarily who is deserving to exercise the right to our own information.

  4. Marley and BN and some of the rest of us have taken the position that compromise is not acceptable. We only support legislation that gives equal access to original birth certificates to all adoptees in the state, no conditions, just like us non-adopted folks enjoy. That is a clearly stated and long-held position. Like it or not, it is transparently clear what we would or would not support.

    That CARE would “like” or “prefer” a clean bill is meaningless because they have stated that their goal is “open records for as many adoptees as possible,” not equal rights for all adoptees. They have made it clear that they WILL accept unspecified compromises if they have to to get something/anything passed. Oh, they may not like it, but they have said they will do it. That is the problem.

    So…their stated goal is not compatible with ours. It isn’t personal or mean, it is a matter of conviction. We have seen that “baby steps” in legislation never get any bigger, and no compromised legislation about adoption records has ever been revisited, corrected, or made better.

    What is passed now is what will be for decades to come. Look at Ohio, MA, other states that have a tiered system with different rules depending on the year the adoptee was born, or other states with mandatory registries and intermediaries. Those laws were not “baby steps”, even though they did indeed enable SOME adoptees to get their records. At the same time they left other adoptees with no rights and the need for parental permission to get anything at all. States that have these convoluted systems will be the very last to get true open records, if they ever do. Why would anyone want to add one more state to that mess just to able to say that they passed “something.”?

  5. A place holder bill would not be clean MarinMaven because it is a slap-dash, doesn’t change anything place holder. Like putting a period in a thread on a forum. Just holds a place.

    You are preaching to the choir about the contact veto or possibility thereof.

    There also seems to be a conflation of AB372 and CARE, they are not one entity. Now that AB372is introduced it will be ammended by many. Up until the day it passes or dies. At this point no one really has any idea what the final language will be so the outrage is premature.

    It seems to me, the practical approach would be to concentrate all efforts on preventing the contact veto from being put on the table,to get the support of agencies that might believe in or support the contact veto.

    We can all feel very smug about being no contact veto, but unless we can apply that righteousness into practical action, it is pretty worthless.

    CARE does not equal AB372. Working for a clean bill is not working for CARE. And MM, you can’t trust anyone in politics so that should clear up your trust issues right there.

    It is okay, you don’t have to trust them.

  6. CARE admitted out the gate that it was quite willing to compromise. As I wrote earlier there is nothing wrong with a placeholder bill. The placeholder, however, could have been a no-compromise bill which would be whittled down later to accommodate its “wants and needs” idealogy. The language could have been taken virtually direct from AL, NH, or ME.

    AB 372 is indeed CARE’s bill. (as Alabama’s bill was AWARE’s bill and Maine’s bill “belonged” to OBC for ME). A plethora of bills are brought to legislatures across the country each year by organizational “owners,: ie special interests.

    CARE brought the bill to Sen Ma, and it therefore “owns” the bill. CARE is Sen. Ma’s go-to group. This doesn’t mean that other groups or individuals can’t influence the final product. We are working toward that end, and we hope we can. But CARE holds the priviledge and #1 spot.

    In 2001-2002 AB 1349 was CalOpen’s bill. The sponsor and AB 1349 worked very closely together and he sought their expertise and opinion constantly. When the bill became something it wasn’t intended to be, the sponsor and CalOpen consulted together and the sponsor pulled the bill.

    The CalOpen Coalition is working very hard to turn the current AB 372 into a clean bill. At the present time it isn’t clean and there is no indication that it ever will be. Therefor there is only one bill to talk about: AB 372.

    If AB 372 were to suddenly become a clean bill, we would then support the bill.

    Good bills go bad all the time. We went into the 1349 hearing in full support of the bill. We left totally opposed; and if we could not have pulled the bill, then we would have become a anti 1349 group.

  7. A lot can be done with the language of the bill. In the interim before you know what is happening, you are encouraging discord and spreading misinformation.

    Do you even think about how what you are doing is going to look to the legislators?

    Your method is hurting adoptee rights in California, and weren’t you going on about out of state buttinskies screwing things up?

    You could help the situation without compromising your no contact policy.

    Isn’t that you right here, right now?

    Sure looks that way to me. Jesus H. Christ, if I didn’t know better I would think BN is a beard for NCFA

  8. BB Church and I have politely explained to you how legislation works, and you don’t like our answers. That’s your right.even if it make you sound like a beard for CARE.

    Sen. Ma needs to hear from as many voices as possible. People need to continue to contact her.

  9. Joy wrote:

    “This bill no longer “belongs” to CARE though, although I understand that they are influential, more so than say, AAAFC, but they are also saying that while they are willing to compromise, they would rather not.”

    What CARE says and what CARE does is two very different things.

    CARE posted that they met with members of the Judiciary Committee on February 26th, and for a time published the letter they presented to the members, dated February 24th. As the sponsoring organization for AB 372, they have privileges of advise and consent, and of access.

    In their letter to the Judiciary, CARE stated that they looked “forward to working with the
    Assembly Judiciary Committee and effecting government policies that restrict: 1) the original record of birth of an adoptee who knows the name of their birthmother; and 2) the original record of birth of an adoptee of which the birthmother is deceased.”

    Considering this was CARE’s letter of support of AB 372, and their introduction to the members of the Judiciary Committee, the letter should be read as their statement of purpose. If their purpose was to revise the law to allow full adoptee access to their OBCs, this would be the place to state it. Instead, they say they are willing to work with the committee to allow access to folks who already know their first mother’s name and to folks whose first mother is deceased. Let’s not quibble over what they’d rather be doing, sailing, golfing, fishing, advocating for adoptee rights, etc., their purpose could not be clearer.

    What will legislator’s think? Depends on what they hear from their constituents and organizations and individuals they trust. That’s why every post about AB 372 should end with links to the Judiciary Committee contact page and a find-your-legislator page.
    As long as the message is consistent, that their constituents clearly desire a clean bill, then the internecine bullshit that passes for politics here in Adoption World isn’t going to faze them.

  10. Exactly, BB. Leggies don’t care about about this bullshit. They don’t even particularly discern the differences in ideologies. What they want to hear is a majority voice. That’s why it’s so important to continue to contact Sen. Ma and members of the Jud Committee and any other players that emerge. Make CARE irrelevant.

    BTW, CARE’s letter to the Jud was removed again, a few days ago. What’s with that?

  11. In any state where I have followed legislation and written letters of support, up until now I have always been able to understand the messages put out by the sponsoring group. Whether I agreed or not, I knew what they were proposing. I also find CalOpen and Marley, Ron, 73Adoptee quite clear about their views. Not so with CARE.

    I truly do not understand what CARE wants to do or what kind of legislation they want to introduce.I tried asking some questions on a list where members of CARE offered to answer questions. I am still waiting for any answer. Here are my questions:

    From March 17, I wrote:

    OK. Here are some questions, please answer here so that all may be enlightened.

    What records exactly are you talking about? In any state I know the OBC is at the Bureau of Vital Statistics with all the other birth certificates, except it is sealed. In states that have opened records recently, like New Hampshire and Maine, adoptees need only go to the Bureau of Vital stats to get their OBC like anyone else. In NJ Birth certificates are in two places, local town Bureau of Vital Stats and a central state office in the Capitol. Either is legal ID.

    So is CARE also seeking court records, agency records, hospital records, other?

    I have heard that legislators in CA “don’t like to hear about rights, but would rather respond to needs and desires”. So people supporting this bill are not to use rights-oriented language. Please explain. If it is not about adoptee rights, it is nothing. And I don’t think legislators will be fooled by calling it something else.

    Would CARE accept a compromise that cuts out adoptees born after 1984? It seems from their web page that they are warning potential supporters that they might have to do this to get something/anything passed.

    Would CARE accept adoptees having to go to court to get their records, with the possibility a judge could deny access?

    Is there really a “secret strategy” different from all other states, that we have to trust CARE to implement, no matter what they are saying now? What happens if the secret strategy fails and things end up worse than they are now?

    Thanks in advance for your honest answers to these questions, and for offering to explain. This is all very confusing.


  12. I am not adopted nor directly related to an adoptee or adoptee birth parent. I was made aware of AB 372 and the Open Records issue by an adoptee who is a very close friend. That is why I care about Open Records. I have no other agenda and believe it is a noble cause and would like to see it become real. I truly understand the desire and need adoptees have to access their birth records. It makes sense at a very basic level of natural rights. I therefore strongly believe in the principle behind Open Records. I also understand the unfortunate but very real dilemma in that the adoptee birth record is fundamentally different from a non-adoptee birth record. That leads to a break in how it should be treated as a civil rights issue.

    A birth record represents a dilemma with regards to the civil rights based access argument. The record contains information about multiple individuals including the child, mother and possibly the birth father. That means that it is one document that contains private information on more than just one individual. In the general case, this is not dissimilar to any government record that contains private information referring to more than one person. The “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 17” places the right to privacy among the most fundamental Civil Rights recognized. It is also recognized in the California Constitution and various California code. This creates a problem for the civil rights Open Records position if the counterbalancing privacy versus access is left unacknowledged. Failure to recognize the adoptee case differs from the non-adoptee case undermines the adoptees likelihood to success in the legislature and eventually the courts. It leads to the appearance of its proponents being fully intellectually honest and respecting Equal Rights.

    The California government disclosure of the adoptee birth record has the potential to violate the privacy rights of other individuals whose private information would be disclosed against their wishes. This is not the case in the non-adoptee circumstances. Fortunately only a small percentage of birth mothers have indicated in writing that they want their information kept private. There is no such empirical evidence of the parents or other parties insisting on privacy in the non-adoptee case. That makes the adoptee access and non-adoptee birth record access a fundamentally different civil rights issue. This is because it brings in the privacy versus personal information access counterbalancing problem. By failing to acknowledge or demeaning a birth mother’s privacy hurts the noble Open Records cause. Only an approach that addresses this difference plus other pragmatic realities will succeed. That kind of talk is not helpful in that it undermines the sincerity and therefore agenda of the proponents.

    The original birth mother’s privacy request was agreed to by California officials after 1986 making it a legal and binding contract between California and the birth parent. That legally binding contract that CA entered with birth mothers adds another layer of both civil rights and legal complexity to the issue. Failing to acknowledge this by the Open Records proponents is also not helpful. By failing to acknowledge fundamental differences and arguing as though they don’t exist leaves opponents with a mile wide hole to undermine Open Records efforts. Using defaming language about differing proponents only reinforces the harm. It is harmful to a noble cause if even a few activist angry proponents appear narcissistic undermining everyone and the whole cause.

    Only by facing the issues politely, intelligently, balanced and one by one will lead to a break through for Open Records. The current ugly mudslinging by certain individuals is very sad. Watching others follow blindly and support and encourage this is wrong. I suspect the 2001 effort failed in part due to this lack of acknowledgement and unruly behavior. Is that how you want the world to view adoptees? When anyone unbiased hears these incomplete arguments and harsh words, they are left wondering if it’s a result of lack of awareness, emotional blindness, ulterior motives, narcissism or a desire for control or power. None of these impressions by the either neutral or opponents to Open Records will help the cause. It is critical that for an issue of this kind where adoptees may have emotional wounding and are in need of healing are supported by sincere leaders and proponents. Only honest and open acknowledgement of the issues and arguing them from a sincere and open position will win over the neutral and opponents.

    Once all the real world issues are taken into account, the very pragmatic approach taken by CARE becomes the obvious and only possible winning strategy. Anyone who believes otherwise needs to re-examine their agenda. As I understand it, CARE’s goal is to open as many records as possible for as many adoptees as the California constitution, existing laws, regulations and policies, litigation potential, birth mother contract liability, legislator bias and inertia, legislator fear of liability, change, risk or cost, government employee bias and inertia, cost of changes and multiple opponent allows.

    It is not practical to eliminate the “Veto” concept since California has entered into contracts plus the many other obstacles. If the statistics hold consistent in California, then the million or so records in California will result in more records being opened by AB 372 than have been opened to date. Only a few hundred to a few thousand might be blocked by a birth mother veto. By failing to accept the possible 999,000 Open Records should be viewed as a MAJOR victory since the emotional healing of adoptees is a major goal of this effort. How can anyone justify taking 999,000 Open Records away from adoptees waiting for so long. Since this is not a clear cut Civil Rights issue due to the very real privacy difference, holding out for an illegitimate dream is foolish. The precedence argument is equally foolish since every state has different circumstances. The precedence of opening 999,000 records in the largest state should be viewed as a positive precedence since it sends a clear message of the need to rebalance the access versus privacy rights. That is the key precedence!

    The Civil Rights argument will never fly because the privacy issue is very real and not the same as the non-adoptee case. In addition, every state has a different constitution and circumstances. When you add the California constitution, existing laws, future litigation potential, birth mother contract liability, legislator bias, legislator desire to not open California to liability or cost, government employee bias, inertia, cost of changes and multiple opponents, it is wrong to deny adoptees such a large gain. It is absurd and simply WRONG to deny 999,000 adoptees their records while holding onto a unrealistic and flawed dream of a “perfect bill”. There is no such thing as a perfect bill. It fits into the UFO category. The remaining 1000 adoptees still blocked might achieve some easy compromise such as redacting the birth parent name and receiving everything else once the dam is broken.

    Laws with this number of obstacles and history don’t fall easily. They typically fall in stages. What is wrong with a 999,000 / 1000 gain as the first step. The answer is nothing! It would be very sad if a small group of misguided activists blinded by their unwillingness to “Be Open” caused yet another failure in the healing of the many deserving adoptees. They don’t deserve the additional harm of another failed bill as in 2001bacuase of a small group of ideologs. Judging the CARE people based on evolving language is simply wrong. Defaming people who are trying to help adoptees is also wrong. At a very minimum, follow Gershom’s advice “In my opinion its also important to represent yourself in as polite, educated and persuasive as possible. Knowing the points is important. Someone writing in about a right to reunion can do just as much damage as the industry working against us.”

  13. I certainly hope the moderator believes in free speech and doesn’t censor views different from their own. That would be truly ironic for someone supporting “Open Records” if they themselves don’t “Walk the Talk”

    Thank you for your willingness to accept other views and open dialog with those supporting he same cause. albeit with somewhat different views.


  14. Everything gets posted here unless it’s obscene or harasses another poster.

    As for your comments there is no reason to believe that those who are left behind will ever be picked up. Once vetoes, etc. are in place, it is impossible to remove the conditions. Unless there is a right for all, there is no right for any. It’s a conditional favor In over 40 years no conditional law has ever been fixed.

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