Missouri: Bastard Nation Testimony on HB 1137–Oppose

I’ll be writing about the latest Missouri situaiton later, but i the meantime, here’s our testimony that was submitted to the Judiciary committee on January 25, 2012.

HB 1137:
access to identifying information for adoptions original birth certificate
Missouri House Judiciary Committee
January 25, 2012
Privilege is the opposite of rights

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest Adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full access for all adopted persons to their original birth certificates (OBC) without restriction.. HB 1137 is not an unrestricted bill and we oppose it.

Under current Missouri law, the original birth certificates of all Missouri Adoptees are sealed and cannot be released to the adoptee without a court order.

Missouri’s current “identifying information access” law is a confusing, convoluted labyrinth that serves only a handful of adoptees who successfully navigate its bureaucracy. Those few who do succeed receive only “identifying information” without the release of the OBC. .
HB 1157 makes no substantial changes in that law. It simply substitutes OBC release for the current informal identifying information forwarded to the adoptee, keeping the rest of the bureaucracy in place. It,fact, this bill actually increases the bureaucracy by adding the Department of Social Services to the list of agencies that can be involved in the release.
HB 1137 reinforces outdated adoption secrecy present in the current law. It includes the misnamed “contact preference form”which enables biological parents, upon request, to prohibit the state from releasing to the OBC. A genuine “contact preference form”as Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island have enacted permits a biological parent to state a preference regarding contact, with the adoptee, with no legal ramifications. The “contract preference form “in HB1137, is simply a softer name for the “affidavit of nondisclosure form” in current law, and continues to let third parties legally bar the adoptee from receiving the OBC—a privilege or “special right” that no third party, not even a parent, can evoke against the not-adopted.
Furthermore, the submission of a medical history form, mandated for biological parents who file a veto, is invasive and may be in violation of the federal HIPAA. Law. While family medical histories are desirable for everyone, no one has a right to anyone else s, and adoptees should not be the exception. The entire impetus for adoptee rights, in fact, is that adopted people need to be treated the same as everyone else, nothing more and nothing less.
Sooner or later Missouri, and every other state that has not opened OBC’s unconditionally to adoptees, are going to be forced to d so. The issue isn’t going away. This is not a matter of if, but when.

Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, driver’s licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, security clearances and other entitlements due to discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems.

Adoptees without a genuine original birth record could soon be barred from running for public office. At least 10 states, including Missouri (HB 283; ss Lyle Rowland, Mike Kelly) have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present their original birth certificates to appropriate authorities to prove citizenship eligibility for office. Some of these bills go farther, mandating anyone running for office to prove citizenship through an original birth certificate. It is no stretch to think that someday soon adoptees could be barred from voting due to lack of “legal” identity over problematical amended birth certificates, and the perpetual sealing of the originals.

Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 five states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the former states have been released with no reported consequences. (Rhode Island won’t open until July 1, 2012)

Rights are for all citizens, not favors doled out to some. Missouri does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or third party “preference.”

HB 1137, as it is currently written does nothing to restore the right of all Missouri adoptees to their own original birth certificates. Unless this bill is amended –basically re-written to restore the rights of all, we urge you to vote DO NOT PASS. All Missouri Adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. Missouri Adoptees deserve better than HB 1137!

Submitted by Marley Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee rights organization
January 25, 2012

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult Adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to Adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the Adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult Adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.

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