On March 7, Erik Smith and I will hold a workshop at the annual conference of the American Adoption Congress in Boston. Our subject is “Putative Father Registries and Safe Haven Laws.” The AAC received many more workshop proposals than could be accommodated, and we are fortunate to be selected. Since Dad is usually left out of the safe haven equation, we are excited about the opportunity to bring him in.
Not everybody, though, thinks that it’s such a good idea. A few days ago the AAC received an email from our friends the Massachusetts Morriseys, co-founders of Baby Safe Haven New England and members of the National Safe Haven Alliance. Calling themselves “experts,” and without any idea of what Erik and I will present, they requested that they be added to OUR workshop, since Erik and I are distributing “disinformation.”
This doesn’t surprise me. Since they jumped onto our computer and TV screens four years ago, the Morriseys have, like Theordore Roosevelt, tried to be “the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.” Because Roosevelt was the president, he could get away with it. The Morriseys can’t, though Boola-Boola, they do try. As propagandists and obsessive exploiters of tragedy, they can never stretch, stoop, or reach low enough to push their agenda. No abandoned baby, no dead newborn, no stillbirth has been left unturned in their quest for the global baby dump.
“Disinformation” is the Morriseys’ stock in trade. They have no experience in adoption, child welfare, or law, but they claim expertise in all. For the past four years I’ve collected hundreds of their McCarthyesque rants on alt.adoption and documented their dour media appearances at baby funerals, town meetings, and public access TV. I have appeared on talk radio twice with Mike Morrisey where he spouted gibber as “fact”. For instance, when we appeared on the Arnie Arneson Show (WNTK-AM, New Britain, NH, Feb. 5, 2003),he claimed, refusing to cite sources, that the per capita rate of newborn abandonment has remained steady for 3000 years! The late historian John Boswell, author of the seminal The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance must be kicking himself post-mortem for not consulting Mr. Morrisey before he bothered to write his book.
UNDA LIMBO STICK
Hyperbole, of course, is endemic in adoption and the Internet, but the Orwellian quality spewed by the Morriseys, especially on alt. adoption (admittedly a wild and wooly habitat) would impress even the Loose Changers. (See, I can hyberbolate myself!
(1) In a letter published in the News Tribune (March 17, 2003) under both their names, the Morriseys claimed that I co-wrote the Evan B. Donaldson (EBD) safe haven report, Unintended Consequences: Safe haven laws are causing problems and not solving them. In an undated letter to a “Ms Costa” in my possession, the Morriseys wrote, that I was the “main contributor” to the report and that I was the “lead speaker” at the March 2003 Evan. B. Donaldson safe haven roundtable in New York City.
In fact, I was and am critical of the report and wrote my own critique of it which is posted on the BN page. Perhaps I suffer from MPD or lacunar amnesia.
Unintended Consequences was researched and written by the EBD staff. As common in academic and research projects, individuals prominent in the field were asked to comment on the draft. A number of people read the draft and were acknowledged in the final report. Annette Baran, Joan Hollinger, Dr. Margaret Spinelli, Prof. Michelle Oberman, Prof. Cheryl Meyer and Nina Wiliams-Mbengue from the National Conference of State Legislatures were among those to review and critique. I was honored to join that group. There were no “lead speakers” at the Donaldson roundtable. I was an invited guest like everyone else. I doubt that I spoke more than anybody else. And no one sat at my feet in awe.
(2) In his testimony before the New Hampshire House on March 18, 2003 in support of that state’s baby dump bill, Mike Morrisey presented written testimony in my possession in which he attacked several members of the EBD reading group. This is his description of Joan Hollinger, the most prominent adoption law scholar in the country, a member of the federal Childrens Bureau task force on Achieving Permanancy for Dependent and Foster Care Children, and a member of the US State Department’s advisory group on intercountry adoption: “activist lawyer, hates privacy, strong advocate of gay and lesbian adoption, pro-abortion leader.” He referred to the Child Welfare League of America, the country’s foremost child welfare policy organization, which, also sets best practice standards for the field, as “not pro-life.” CWLA has no policy on abortion. The innuendo shouts.
(3) Singled out for special treatment has been the Donaldson’s director, Pulitzer- nominated, Adam Pertman, author of Adoption Nation: Adoption Revolution is Transforming America. Pertman has been cited by the Dave Thomas Center as one of the nation’s “greatest contributors to public understanding about adoption and permanancy placement issues.” Before his move to EBD, Pertman spent 20 years as a reporter, news editor and bureau chief at the Boston Globe. He covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, and the OJ Simpson trial. Yet the Morriseys prefer to call him a “former restaurant reviewer ” and relegate him to the dustbin of irrelevancy. Here are two samples from Jean Morrisey:
Will somebody send Adam Pertman and the Donaldson think tank a life raft as they go sinking down to the mindless bottom of the tank itself? Is he on a self-destructive binge or what? Nobody is paying attention to his “commentaries” that pop up occasionally. Every small town politician knows that if you have to write your own letters to the editor, you are SUNK! (“Somebody send Adam Pertman a life raft quick,” alt.adoption April 5, 2003). (Apparently their own letters to the editor don’t count).
And after a Boston radio appearance by Pertman:
And why was Adam P. actually crying loudly on the radio yesterday in Boston, and insulting both pro-baby Safe Haven law hosts, one is an adoptee, the other the husband of an adopee. Adam said, “being an adoptee doesn’t make you an expert on adoption?” I wonder who else that applies to. HHHhhmmmmm? I guess he won’t be back on the top morning talk show ever again after that low ball insult. Some advice for Adam, take some voice lessons so that your message comes across clear on the radio, and not sounding a “goofball.” Waking up to that whining was the most unpleasant thing listeners have had to endure. Is that the sound of the bottom I hear dropping out as the Legislature moves Baby Safe Havens forward prior to the gay marriage Constitutional Convention? (“MA—Safe Havens Bill Clears House, Heads to Uncertain Senate Fate,” alt.adoption, March 11, 2004).
And one from Mike Morrisey:
And, remember AP, any place, anywhere, any time, I’ll debate you again. Last time you were left in ranting tears of embarrassment of your defeat. I still have the image of your jumping up and down a like a spoiled little boy in the parking lot of the radio station in Boston — in your camp shorts on a hot summer night, crying as you said “you’re such an egomaniac!”
I took that as a major accomplishment. I LOL every time I think of that night. Just a few days later MA passed the Baby Safe Haven law unanimously! Another loss for the Pulitzer nominee, in his own home state. Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo! (Another EBD/Pertman Sham/ABC Interview, alt.adoption, February 3, 2007)
(4) In an imaginative moment, the Morriseys wrote that the child advocacy organization, Massachusetts Families for Kids is a Bastard Nation “branch.” BN does not have branches or organizational memberships, and we’d never heard of MFK until they brought the group to our attention. When I attempted to set them straight, the Morriseys replied, “Lies, lies, and they (MFK) admit getting all of your BN hyperbole and following it.” (“Kailee update,” alt.adoption, February 27, 2003).
(5) In letters written to members of the New Hampshire House in my possession, the Morriseys refer to safe haven opponents as “extremists” and ”marginal.” In February 2003 posts on alt. adoption, under their joint signature, the Morriseys call opponents “extremist reactionaries,” and, practitioners of ”whimpering escapism.” (“Kailee update,” alt.adoption 21, 23, 2003). (For more bizarre hectoring see Jean Morrisey’s letter to the Massachusetts News, accusing baby dump opponents of being rape-friendly.) Apparently the Morriseys have forgotten (or more likely don’t know) that the American Adoption Congress, who they think owes them something, is among those extremists, reactionaries and marginals.
It’s very bad form—especially for strangers—to try to cut in line because they object to the content of a conference. Apparently, though, the Morriseys have no idea (or don’t care) how conference presenters are chosen. A call for proposals with guidelines and a deadline goes out, people submit, and a committee vets the applications. The lucky winners get to spend a lot of their own money to fly to a tourist trap to talk to a room full of dozers after a chicken salad lunch.
If the Morriseys really wanted to speak at the AAC, they could have gone to the AAC website for conference guidelines and submitted a proposal on time like everybody else. Of course, the Morriseys know nothing about adoption so they didn’t know about the AAC. If they did know, they’d know that it jumped right behind Bastard Nation in opposing safe havens.
I can’t help but recall Sojourner Truth when Thought Nazis like the Morriseys (or in the old days, Dr. Pierce who, unlike them, saw the whole thing as Grand Theater) bombast about not having a” level playing field” or some such dither. Their playing field is only “level” when they flatten it with a tank.
Since the Morriseys arrived on the scene in 2003 they have attempted to shut up opposition through name-calling, threats, and smears. Their problem with us goes way beyond the political and veers into the pathological. Dis- and mis-information is a civil term for what they do. Not satisfied with rhetorical battering they now want to horn in on a conference (at the last minute at that!) of an organization that opposes their agenda, to cleanse our minds and “protect” the adoption reform masses from our own “disinformation.” If they don’t, the Morriseys fear they’ll be packing adoptees in little white coffins off to the Garden of Angels —and it will be our fault. Or maybe it’s their own redemption they’re worried about.
It never occurred to me until this week that I could have a seat at the grown-ups’ table, but the Morriseys have cleared a place for me. Tonight I think I’ll apply to join the National Safe Haven Alliance. I sense a lot of disinformation coming out of there, and I’m sure the Alliance will want me there to set them straight.