Maryland: SB 331 Defeat: Adoptee Rights is “A Bad Idea”

Maryland SB 331 and its companion HB 999, bills that unsealed all Maryland-born adoptees’ original birth certificates without restriction, went down in flames Monday night 16-31.

This defeat was not unexpected seeing the strange turn the bills took this year. An identical measure passed the House of Delegates last year by an overwhelming non-partisan vote of 131-7 but never made it through the Senate due to Covid chaos and an early shut-down.

This year, that same bill was reintroduced in both chambers as a probable no-brainer since no one objected the first time around. The House Government and Operations Committee hearing was canceled (reasons unknown, but probably because mischief was afoot), but the Senate bill got some play. A few days ago, with no action pending and the legislature set to shut down in a few weeks, we thought it was dead. It mysteriously resuscitated, though, and received a favorable pass (8-3) in the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Once it hit the Senate floor, however, adoption imperialist warlords and ladies pushed their panic buttons. They were so aggrieved at us lifting our collective leg on them that they attempted to erase us from our own narratives and records (and thus their own minds) by hacking away with that old rusty saw of “birthmother privacy” and (gasp!) “broken government promises.” As if the government has never broken a real promise or spouted a fake one!

You can watch the Floor debate here. (Marker 1:10)


Welcome to 1958! Now shut up and sit down at the children’s table!

This, Fellow Bastards, is some of the worst dehumanizing and outlandish misinformation about adoption and Class Bastard that I’ve heard in years. Did Bill Pierce, the late founding president of the National Council for Adoption, rise from the dead and channel himself through Senator Michael Hough (R ) and his gang of merry bigoted bipartisan busybodies? 

In 1998, Pierce groused poetic that a Confidential Intermediary (CI) bill passed the previous session by the Maryland legislature was the product of “anti-adoptionists“ such as Catholic Charities, Maryland adoption agencies, and the most notorious anti-adoption thugees of all, Quad A–the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.  This anti-adoption measure was the “first bite of the apple.” He expected these villains to return for a “second bite” to pass legislation similar to Tennessee’s half-baked records bill, (complete with fines and jail time for those who break the law by actually contacting a biological parent without consent*)–and holy moly, completely up-end adoption! He failed to note that Bastard Nation also opposed the bill.

Like Pierce over 20 years ago, Hough worked himself up Monday over Bastards coming back to his sacred Senate space year after year to upset his shiny-apple cart. If he’s agitated, how does he think Maryland adoptees feel?

This is a bad idea. And this is wrong. This is fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, breaking a promise and breaking the law in a contract we had with these mothers who gave the children up for adoption. I

Here is Hough’s one minute of infamy. I’ve broken it up into chewable munchies and bolded the most interesting parts. We begin with his Law Against Return:

I would just ask for a roll call on the second reading report ….and if I could . I know it’s late in the evening, and I know people want to go home but, you know, this bill has been floating around here for at least a decade. This is not a good idea. There’s a reason that this has been defeated, time after time after time.

Then, he went full ballistic-shit over the morality and legality of changing existing law—something legislators do as routinely as pulling on their socks:

This bill should not be on the floor. What this bill does is breaks a promise the State of Maryland made primarily to mothers. A promise that we would not give out their personal information. Not only is it breaking promises. What we’re doing I think is wrong morally. When you break a promise it breaks the law. We put in the law that we would not give it out. We undo it with this bill.

Then, putting the words of women he doesn’t know into his own mouth as fact:

Not only that, but the law currently says at age 21 the adoptee can go back, and the State of Maryland will try to reunite you with the mother. At this point the mother would have said NO again, so for a 21 year period, a mother asked for her privacy for whatever her reasons were, and the sponsor actually gave a good reason. So, whatever that is, the mother’s asked for that privacy, the State of Maryland has told them they would keep it.

Then, closing with a rhetorical flourish, winding back to his beginning horror of law-breakingl law changes:

We should respect it–not breaking with law. This is a bad idea. And this is wrong. This is fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, breaking a promise and breaking the law in a contract we had with these mothers who gave the children up for adoption. In my opinion, this bill is not amendable, it is not fixable, it should not be on the floor and should be defeated as it’s been defeated the last 10 years. Thank you very much the President.

So. changing a law is breaking that law. I guess that means we better jack up to that 90% tax rate rich Americans enjoyed under Eisenhower. And cancel all 33 Amendments to the US Constitution while we’re at it. In my opinion, Mike, you need to read an adoption history book chased with a law book an hour a day on Adoptee Twitter.

Then, there was Senator Cheryl Kagan’s (D) amendment—the one that she and some legal beagle pals of hers spent all night and all day composing but never got to present before the Senate since the President of the Senate said: “it doesn’t exist.” Kagan, herself, seemed unsure of what her non-existent amendment actually said since she hadn’t had time to read the final product before the floor meet-up. My friend AAC National Legislative Director Tim Monti-Wohlpart described this bit of scripted “fix” asan esoteric, non-introduced, discriminatory amendment (brandished about in a threatening fashion.”)

We are trying to get a copy of this ” nonexistent” esoteric document and will let you know what it said later. It won’t be good.

Newly minted adoption experts Senators Beth Carozza (R ) Nancy, King (D), and Edward Reilly ( R) obsessed over privacy, reunion, and the beauty of adoption—especially when they’re involved in it. 

Senator Carozza kicked off praising what appears to be the dreaded CI law that Dr. Pierce declared anti-adoption, as well as Disclosure Vetoes (of which none have been filed since 2017) saying that SB 331 would unbalance the right of birthparent “privacy.” In other words, shut up, and sit down at the children’s table, little bastard.

Senator King, acting as closer, proclaimed herself more-” pro-choice”-than-anybody.” Then she rejoiced that the birthmother of her 5-year old adopted granddaughter in South Carolina had not only avoided the lure of her neighborhood abortionist but refuses to have contact with the little girl or her adoptive parents even when they run into each other on the street—like this is a good thing.

Ed Reilly: He just knows….

Between the two nay-sayers came Senator Reilly. This born storyteller enchanted us with the tale of a 32-year old nurse (a “mature woman” not a 22-year old party girl) named “Susie” that he knew in his days of yore, who sat out a sad depressed unmarried pregnancy at his home with his “pro-life” pregnancy clinic counselor wife. Though he hasn’t t spoken to Susie for years, he just knows, just like Hough just knows, that she never wants contact with that child, now an adult, whom he says she bonded with over the 4 days before he was punted into his Forever AdoptionLand Home. To cozy up the story, the senator informed us the baby was born on Christmas Day. 

Reilly not only hijacks “Susie’s “voice but speaks for her son as well and implies that if Susie and her son made contact it would diminish his own role in the adoption:

We’ve lost…lost contact with Susie but I have a …I have an impression that if she was approached today she would stand by her decision not to have contact with that child. Why in the world would she tear this kid’s world apart with doubt, with…with insecurity with…Why- -did -you -leave -me type of things? Now whether or not that adopted family gave him the information I can’t tell you. What I didn’t tell you… that it is my opinion she made the right decision, and that she released her hold on that child.

Senator Reilly, a genealogy hobbyist, also believes that nobody ever finds a close relative on and 23 & Me because he hasn’t ( though he has 8000 individuals in his family tree); and that those same nobodys don’t need a family medical history to fight an illness, since well….doctors will just figure it out. He chortled:

This DNA stuff is is great for the cops

Last year the good senator sponsored a non-binding resolution, thankfully dead-ended, that mandated schools to teach teenage girls, through the state health curriculum, how to track their menstrual periods.#  Apparently, they just can’t figure it out without the help of the state. Do we really need him in the Maryland Senate? I believe he has control issues.

A Bastard Nation Sidenote

Back in the late ’90s when Dr. Pierce ruled supreme, he threw a tantrum when Bastard Nation showed up in Annapolis for an OBC hearing. –and even worse–when our lobbyist Jackie Patrick Fox, a self-described birth slut from Slutvakia (terms he was sure we had forced upon her) impelled him to work his gentlemanly instincts to protect the fair sex from a sex-before-marriage rep–or at least birth-before-marriage as she handed out copies of the Declaration of Independence with our testimony. Bill, in fine form, referred to Bastard Nationals and allied rowdies as hippies and anarchists that “looked like they belonged in San Francisco in the flower child era.” and more terrifying. He accused us of wearing Birkenstocks!

Yes, we are Grateful Bastards

Bastard Nation is a core partner in the Capitol Coalition for Adoptees Rights (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC), and we are not going away—especially after the shenanigans Hough & Co. pulled. Much to Sen. Hough’s dismay, we will join Maryland Adoptee Rights –Birkenstock-on-feet–to come back and come back and come back until the job is done. We’re taking a dozen bites of the apple if necessary. We’re a hungry bunch.

We all worked very hard on this bill/ I want to personally thank Susie Stricker and Peggy Klappenberger from Maryland, Adoptee Rights; Greg Luce from the Adoptee Rights Law Center; and AAC National Legislative Director Tim Monti-Wolhpart for burning our midnight oil. We are grateful and express our thanks to Senator Susan Lee sponsor of the Senate bill for her dedicated work on its passage. We also thank Senators Delores Kelley and Senator Cory McCray for so eloquently expressing their support for us on the Senate floor.

For a good account of Monday’s vote read Bill That Would’ve Granted Adoptees Access to Birth Certificates Fails on Senate Floor, a detailed report on the bill published in Maryland Matters.


*This portion of the Tennessee law was repealed on March, 26 and is now sitting on the Governor’s desk for signing.

#The oversharing senator told the press that period tracking and cervical mucus pattern charting are the birth control of choice used by him and Mrs. Reilly for 23 years.


Cross-posted from Bastard Nation.

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