Tuesday, the Missouri Senate Health, Mental Health, Seniors, and Families Committee held a hearing on it’s greatly flawed SB 351. (text, status/history) Bastard Nation, through our long-time member Carla McBrine as able to submit our opposition testimony in person. Unfortunately, the committee voted the bill out of committee (I haven’t been able to find the roll call vote) and the bill is headed for the Senate. At this time, we don’t know if it will be scheduled for a vote. The session ends May 13.
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, SB 351.
Under current Missouri law, the original birth certificates of all Missouri adoptees are sealed and cannot be released to the adoptee except by court order and only with the consent of both the biological and adoptive parents. This 4-signature consent represents the most restrictive OBC access law in the United States. For as long as we can remember, Missouri adoption reform advocates have been attempting to free the state’s adoptees from these onerous restrictions.
Unfortunately, SB 351 is not the bill to overturn the current law. SB 351makes superficial changes to the OBC access structure, removing adoptive parent sign-offs, while maintaining retrospectively and prospectively the other restrictions which keep Missouri adoptee birth records and identity a state secret.
SB 351 is misleading and inimical to the rights of all Missouri adoptees. The measure is promoted as an “adoptee rights” and OBC “access bill.” It is not. SB 351 reinforces out-dated adoption secrecy through the disclosure affidavit for “birthparents” The bill even authorizes a natural parent to not only order the state to withhold the OBC from the adoptee, but to override the wishes of the other parent that it be released! SB 351 does not restore the right to the OBC once enjoyed by all Missouri adoptees. Instead, it makes adoptee access to their own birth certificates a state/”birth family” conditioned privilege separate and unequal from the right enjoyed by Missouri’s not adopted.
Sooner or later Missouri and every other state that has not opened OBCs unconditionally to adoptees are going to be forced to. 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, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances 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; sp 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 problematic amended birth certificates, and the perpetual sealing of the originals.
Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the latter four states have been released with no reported ill consequences.
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.
Vote DO NOT PASS on SB 351. All of Missouri adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. Missouri adoptees deserve better than SB 351!
Submitted by Marley Greiner
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization
March 27, 2011
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.