Rhode Island S478 Sub AA: Support Letter to Full House

Bastard Nation, the Adoptee Rights Organization, the largest adoptee civil rights organization in North America, urges the passage of Rhode Island S478 Sub AA, which restores the right of all Rhode Island adoptees to access their original birth certificates without restriction, upon request.

We, however, reject the age qualification of 25, set by the Senate,. The House earlier had voted 66-0 for H5443 Sub A which authorized the access age at 18, the state’s age of majority. with which we agree.

That said, lawmakers in both Houses have already decided that all Rhode Island adoptees, without condition and restriction, have a right, as they did until 1944, to their original birth certificates. It is, therefore, imperative to restore that right now, and get a clean law on the books and working.

We believe that in the near future, the access age set out in S478 Sub AA should be and can be reduced to the age of majority in order for the adopted and not-adopted to be treated the same under law and policy regarding public document access. The age discrepancy sets a bad precedent, and treats the adopted and no adopted differently.

We are grateful for the support Rhode Island House Members have shown in the past for adoptees and our rights. We trust this support will continue, even with a flawed bill.

We urge you to vote DO PASS on S478 Sub AA. It’s passage will put Rhode Island in the forefront of adoption reform in the United States today.

Yours truly,
Marley E. Greiner
Executive Chair,
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization

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One Reply to “Rhode Island S478 Sub AA: Support Letter to Full House”

  1. Some people have opined that BN has departed from its mission statement by conditionally supporting the R.I. bill that made the age at which an adoptee could access their records higher than the majority age. The view defies logic.

    A mission statement is a brief description of an entity’s fundamental purpose. It is not a private directive that rejects all efforts short of complete and immediate fulfillment of the purpose. Where a compromise moves significantly more toward fulfilling the purpose than against it, and full achievement of the purpose is likely within a reasonable time thereafter, the mission has not been departed from. That is especially true where fulfillment of the full mission at the time of the bill is unrealistic.

    BN’s fundamental purpose is to acheive unconditional access for all adoptees at the age of majority. The bill here achieved full access at age 25 instead of at age 18. Because the bill achieves full access, and the age restriction will likely be lowered within a reasonable time, the bill moves significantly toward BN’s purpose than against it. That differs from, for example, a veto provision compromise which, absent an unlikely change in the law, condemns some adoptees to no access however long they live.

    Getting the age in the proposed R.I. bill lowered from 40 to 18, in turn, was unrealistic. Based on her experience in legislative maneuvering and politics, the Executive Chair concluded that the 25-year age restriction would likely change in the near future. BN’s support was properly “conditional.” The fundamental mission has therefore not been departed from.

    The argument that BN’s conditional support of the R.I. bill might set some sort of precedent that will ultimately harm BN’s purpose misuses the mission statement as a private directive instead of as a public mission statement. Moreover, BN appeared to make a similar compromise in the past without criticism to speak of. As I understand it, Measure 58 in Oregon set the age of access for adoptees at 21 when the state’s majority age was 18. BN could hardly have abandoned Measure 58 without seriously impeding its later progress toward full equal access.

    Accordingly, BN has not departed from its mission statement by supporting the R.I. bill.

    Erik L. Smith

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