It’s 12:01 AM and obcs are officially open in Maine! Happy New Year!
It’s been a long wait from June 25, 2007 when LD 1084 was signed into law to today when the restoration of our rights in Maine went into effect officially. Bastard Nation salutes Mainers and sends many happy returns of the day.
Of course, no celebration is complete without a Grinch, even if it’s not Christmas.
The Grinch in Maine comes in the lumbering form of the Portland Press Herald editorial board. On the prowl for something to spoilsport at the end of the holiday season, the paper pounced on the dead issue of records and identity rights for the state’s adopted class. Adoption records should be accessed with caution/People seeking information about themselves should also respect the privacy of others.
The editorial warns of the dire consequences snoopy adopted folks pose to the stability of Maine’s apparent fragile family infrastructure which will collapse without the studied discretion and good manners of the newly-loosed adopted class on closet-cringing parents. Boo!
Here’s what the paper says about the imminent danger:
Birth parents, who were promised anonymity when they gave children up for adoption, will no longer have their privacy protected. While the new law does allow them to say if they don’t want to be contacted, whether that wish is honored will ultimately be out of their hands.
The Legislature was presented with a true dilemma that left little room for compromise. The law’s attempts to provide some privacy to the birth parents still falls far short of what they had been promised.
Critics have charged that breaking the promise of confidentiality now could push vulnerable pregnant women away from adoption in the future, leading more of them toward the anonymous choice of abortion. In the end, the Legislature responded to the powerful arguments of the adoptees and came down on the side of the now-adult children at the expense of their birth parents…
…For people who have fought so long to learn their birth parents’ identities, the names alone may not be enough. The need to know more about them will be hard to resist.
But in their zeal to learn more about their birth families, they should respect the privacy of those who do not want to be found.
And how this suggestion could be implemented is a mystery, though I’m sure the Portland Diocese could come up with something:
Agencies should track whether this law does indeed affect the decisions of women with unwanted pregnancies who are considering adoption. And everyone involved should approach this new door with caution.
I always wonder about newspaper editors who want to keep their readers from accessing their own public records while at the same time they have no compunction about demanding access to the public records of total strangers to do with what they wish. I missed the part where the media has a special right to public records and adoptees can lump it.
I don’t remember the Press Herald, editorializing against LD 1084, but it may have. I scanned the paper’s archives tonight and found nothing. If Bobbi is reading this, perhaps she can clarify. So why now? Maybe it’s a slow news week. Maybe the editor received a used copy of the rudely written NCFA Factbook 3 and feels like chasing the horse. Or got a lump of coal for Christmas from Bastardette’s friend Krampus. Come to think of it, the Grinch sort of resembles Krampus!
Bastard Nation had nothing to do with the Maine campaign, but Bastardette and Bastard Nation are thrilled that OBC for ME has shown reformists, as we have, that compromise is not acceptable; that our rights can and must be restored without blinking. Anything less than full, unrestricted access to our own state-held birth records is a favor that subverts rights.
Happy New Year to Bobbi Beavers, Sen. Paula Benoit, OBC for ME, and all adopted Mainers now equal under Maine law! Who knows! The Portland Grinch may even thaw out his heart when he sees that the adopted are like everybody else.
I’ll post press coverage on the January 2 opening day activities here. Also go to the OBC for ME webpage for information on the bill and how you can get your obc if you’re a Maine adoptee.
ADDENDA: January 1, 2009, 1:30 PM: Robin Westbrook has posted her thoughts on the Portland Press Herald editorial New Year, Same Old Myths on her blog Motherhood Deleted.