New York Ball of Confusion: Setting things straight

The latest Bastard Nation Legislative Page is up. (Another big update will be posted shortly).  As you can see, it’s only the beginning of February, and already there are plenty of screwy bills up and running to screw over adoptees. New York A2691/S2492  (aka the  Benedetto bill after House sponsor Michael Benedetto) is by far the screwiest. It mandates unrestricted certified OBC access all right, –but there’s a catch.  The OBC would contain the “circumstances of the adoption,” which translated means (according to the bill’s pimps) that the name(s) of your adoptive parent(s) and the date of your adoption would appear on your ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE. This fake OBC would include the disclaimer that it could not be used for identification purposes. So, you’ll get a special second fake “Amended Birth Certificate”  to add to your original fake Amended Birth Certificate instead of your genuine OBC, adding one more link to the chain of abuse.  This scheme, which we are all supposed to be grateful for (again!)  not only defaces the OBC, but de-centers adoptees by giving adoptive parents a documentary role in our birth, and upends one of th core principle of the adoptee rights movement–access to a clean, unaltered OBC.

Problems, we got more problems!

Adoptive parent inclusion is far from the only problem with this anti-adoptee flim-flam. The New York Adoptee Rights Coalition, (NYARC), of which Bastard Nation is a member, has published a response to the bill,  Breaking down the bad (and good). In summary, the Benedetto bill, also:

  • does not address access of OBCs managed by specific local governments, (including the NYC  Department of Health)
  •  possibly retains access through the court system since no application procedure is outlined;
  • does not authorize the Department of Health to release OBCs or to amend vital records law to remove existing language that specifically seals or makes OBCs  available

If this sounds slurry it is, since the bill’s language is slurry, and no one seems interested in addressing this bureaucratic hokum.

Provenance and Purpose

By now, you are probably wondering what twisted sister thought up this legislative farce. At first glance, some observers accused adoptcrats or an entitled gang of FB adopters who insist you are all about them. In reality, however, you have to go no further than New York State Adoptee Equality (NYSAE) (Facebook); a heretofore, (at least in theory), adoptee rights organization, now gone rogue. Today NYSAE announced that the problematic non-adoptee-led  New York Unsealed Initiative has signed on to the Benedetto bill, as well, though UI has not mentioned this on its webpage or on  Facebook as of this writing.   Why first mothers would find this bill attractive is one of those AdoptionLand mysteries.

You are probably also wondering what purpose this bill serves. We already know who adopted us, and unless you are stone broke, you can access that Amended Birth Certificate at leisure with a guarantee that you will get it hoop-free–unlike your OBC. Supporters of this eccentric  mandate (you don’t even get a choice here) claim that it will help with genealogy projects, obtaining dual citizenship, and religious, ethnic, lodge, and DAR  membership, but don’t explain how, since the amended OBC will clearly state that it cannot be used for identification purposes.NYSAE co-chair Carolyn D’Agostino attempted to explain this contradiction on Twitter:

Short tweet between Bastardette and Carolyn D’Agostino, NYSAE co-director. Please excuse my Kindle-induced typos.

Then admits her OBC version cannot be used for legal ID:

And then says (1) adopter information won’t be on the OBC, though the bill clearly says it would be, (2) again admits you can’t have two legal IDs at the same time, and (3) implies that a separate access bill sponsored by Andrew Lanza is the NYARC bill. It is not. (More about below under A Gaggle of Bills and Chaos Ensues)

Or maybe I am being way too picky since I have actually dealt with US and Russian consulates and agencies regarding “legal documents.” I doubt that in the current security state rules have been legitimize “certified-but-not-valid” IDs.  (Ever try to pass through TSA with an expired legal ID?  And don’t get me started on DAR ladies and their fussy rules.)

Not only does the Benedetto bill hint at alchemical powers it is, in Trumpian language, the cleanest, bestest bill ever filed. More about that in a minute, too, but according to Ms D’Agostino:

If anyone asks questions or makes “negative” sounds about the Benedetto bill, chances are those comments will be deleted and posters banned. Ms D’Agustino blocked me and others about 10 days ago from her Twitter account, but  I was mysteriously reinstated a few days later.  She dropped me at least a year ago as a FB friend (I seldom posted anything there) and has blocked me from reading her FB page. The NYSAE page is still open to me, but it mentions nothing about the controversy.

Oddly, Ms D’Agostino claims she is the actual victim of blocking, though several people report being blocked by her. (had problem making screen shot)

Nearly all “public” discussion on the Benedetto bill is held on obscure non-political adoption or closed FB pages and  Ms D’Agostino’s low traffic Twitter account. On these pages we learn from Cathi Swett, co-chair of NYSAE, (who has also blocked many of us)  that anyone opposing their nonsense–especially Bastard Nation nastily holding to its principles and mission–wants to keep the “toxic” sealed and secret adoption racket going.

Note that the Missouri bill mentioned by fellow-traveler Gina Miller passed into law in 2017, did not restore unrestricted OBC access. The new law contains tiered access, a Disclosure Veto that acts as a Contact Veto, and mandates redacted OBCs under certain circumstances. Moreover, Missouri adoptees have complained en masse that they have had to wait months to receive their OBCs–if they are lucky enough to have their request approved.  Read the law here.

A gaggle of OBC bills

As far back as I can remember, New York has been an adoptee rights sinkhole with as many as 4-5 different access bills tossed in the hopper each session. This session is no different, only this time the possibility of passage of a clean bill is much greater. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, tired as the rest of us, has made it clear he wants to stop-up the sinkhole. At the end of the 2017 session, the governor vetoed a complicated restricted access bill after nationwide lobbying against it.  He wrote in his  Veto Memo,  that he “would support legislative proposals that allow adoptees greater access to their records.” Showing that he takes the jam-up seriously, he ordered the New York Department of Health to set up a study group of “diverse stakeholders, including all bill sponsors.”

NYARC was a member of the study group and made substantial input via face-time  and correspondence. NYSAE, an original member of NYARC, left the coalition before the study group convened, and had no input. NYASE, in fact, claimed it was disbanding, though it maintained its web and FB pages. 

The study group report was issued on April 30, 2018 Although rather bland it was clear that the time for unrestricted access in New York had come. NYARC observed:

Opposition to an adult adoptee’s unrestricted right to obtain his or her own original birth certificate now appears so muted as to be virtually non-existent. Now is the time to get it right in New York and across the country. The DOH report demonstrates that adoptee rights matter and that little opposition exists to restore equality for all New York adoptees. We look forward to working with Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York legislators to finally make adoptees


Since then, NYARC has been working on a new clean access bill. Regular updates on our work have been .published. The latest update, which includes a working draft of our bill, is on the NYARC and BN pages.

A few weeks ago, however, Sen Andrew Lanza, a long-time supporter of adoptee rights in New York,independently filed his own OBC access proposal, S2222, a clean bill identical to an earlier access bill introduced by him.  We were as surprised at this as NYSAE apparently was. NYARC acknowledged and thanked Lanza but did not endorse the bill:

At this point, things got really confusing.

Chaos ensues

None of the following is intended to throw shade on Rep. Benedetto, who I believe is well-intentioned and on our side but has been fed bad information by individuals who seem to equate personal desire with political rights. 

Within days of the Lanza bill, NYSAE claimed that NYARC not only endorsed the Lanza bill, but also implied, with no evidence, that the Lanza bill is the NYARC bill.. (Again, I had problems with the screenshot.)

 Jan 29

Moreover, NYSAE, confusing criticism with “trashing.”  claims we have “trashed”the  Benedetto bill (we didn’t) because of “certification” language, rather than our real objection: the defacement of the OBC and ambiguous undefined bill language.

Then, it gets really crazy with Ms D’Agostino popping her cork claiming that the Lanza bill contains a Contact Preference Form and “other garbage.” unlike the NYSAE bill


The Lanza bill contains no CPF language, and we have no idea what garbage” smells up the Lanza bill.  Besides containing no CPF the bill stipulates

  • For a nominal fee, the long form OBC will be released to adoptees 18 years of age and older along with any medical history forms if available.
  • If the OBC is not available after good faith attempt to provide it, a court of competent jurisdiction or an adoption agency, upon specific request will release information that would have appeared on OBC.

CPFs or ” Never let reality get in the way”

A genuine CPF is not legally binding, and it is written into several free-state laws. Its submission by a first parent serves only as a  voluntary preference correspondence attached in a sealed envelope to the OBC that advises an adoptee if the parent prefers direct contact, contact through an intermediary, or no contact. Many adoptees and first parents have found it helpful. It has no relevance to OBC access and release.

Unfortunately, the CPF has become corrupted linguistically and procedurally by adoption deformers and legislators in some states. The No Contact “preference” has been turned on its head becoming a Disclosure Veto simply because a parent says “no contact.”The adoptee, instead of no-strings access ends up with (depending on the state) a defaced OBC redacted of all parental identification information or, no OBC at all.

NYSAE’s peculiar animus toward the genuine  CPF is curious, not only because it does not appear in the Lanza bill but because NYSAE in the past has always supported it. If the Lanza or any other bill contained a corrupted CPF we would join NYSAE’s condemnation. Since the bill contains no CPF language, we are puzzled about why this conversation is happening other than to deflect from the very real flaws in the Benedetto bill and to discredit those of us who oppose document vandalization.

Whatever.  Ms. D’Agostino argues that CP’s (in the Lanza case imaginary) “puts power in the hands of first parents,” traumatizes adoptees,” and are much worse than her gerry-riggged OBC scheme that garbages up the OBC by making adoptive parents part of our birth process, and holds no legal authority.

.Ms D’Agistino’s objections to non-existant  CPF (genuine or otherwise) and the Lanza bill is summarized here with the added absurd claim that an adoptee who violates a preference could be charged with something, but doesn’t say exactly what, other than the CPF carries “potential liability.”

Obviously. a pest can always be subjected to legal measures if necessary, but a genuine CPF is not an order of protection. Perhaps Ms D’Agostino has a genuine CPF confused with the notorious and no-doubt unconstitutional Contact Veto in Tennessee which lets a first parent to legally forbid and on whim contact not only for her/himself but for anyone they want to list–even the as-yet unborn and those who actually want contact, and criminalizes contact with fines and possible jail time.

Other weird things have been written about BN and NYARC. Member organizations and even individual organization members have confused with official NYARC posts suggesting NYSAE doesn’t understand how coalitions work.

Bottom Line

I have yet to know any adoptee rights activist/advocate who wants to abolish genealogy for the adopted, keep them out of religious, fraternal, and social organizations or deny them dual citizenship or any other soft possibilities OBC access brings. For over 20 years we have stressed that it’s nobody’s business what one does with their birth certificate. After all, nobody cares what the not-adopted do with theirs. The Benedetto bill offers no magic keys to unlock the desires listed by NYASE. No state. restricted or non-restricted does.

The Adoptee Rights Law Center held a poll on the Benedetto bill last week. Despite confusion by some regarding the wording, an overwhelming number of people voted NO.

The Topper

As I was finishing this piece I learned that the NYARC bill S3419.  sponsored by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery was filed today. An “as like” bill filed by Rep. David Weprin in the House has not yet received a number.  No CPF. No superfluous adoption information.  No defacement.

Bastard Nation hopes that all of AdoptionLand will all work with Rep. Weprin and Sen. Montgomery to restore adoptee rights for all New York adoptees

A formal announcement will be made shortly.


ADDENDA: Since I posted this blog last night, Carolyn D Agostino has shut down her Twitter account, Neither NYSAE or UI has posted anything about the Weprin/ Montgomery bill. Where are they?

Moreover,, I linked this piece on Adoption News and Events. the popular FB page administered by Cathi Swett, co-chair of NYSAE. It was posted but hidden, and I was told I was trolling. More about this later, maybe.

Follow Bastardette on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *