SPRINGFIELD SHENNIGHANS: Illinois Adoptees Hustled and Shuffled

Tuesday, I wrote that Amendment 1 to HB 4623, would be heard by the Illinois House Adoption Reform Committee the next day. This amendment would add limited records access language to the CI fix-it bill which had already passed Rules. I was told by sponsor Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s office that this hearing was for language approval only. If approved, the amended bill would be published on the Illinois legislative site probably on Friday. I posted that information in good faith, wondering how it would really play out.

Now we know.

Late yesterday afternoon I was forwarded the email below sent by Melisha Mitchell, the putative author of the bill, with the news that HB 4623 had passed out of the Adoption Reform Committee, 8-1. The only opposition came from Illinois Right to Life.

Dear All:

I am happy to report that HB 4623, Illinois’ obc access bill, was
passed out of the House Adoption Reform Committee today, 8 votes to
1. We had letters of support from most of the state’s prominent
adoption agencies and adoptive parents’ groups as well as the support
of the Dept. of Public Health, Dept. of Children and Family Services,
NASW, and IL Psychiatrists Assn.; in addition, the Chicago Bar Assn.,
the Illinois Bar Assn. and Catholic Charities (!!!!) all testified as
to their “neutrality” on the bill. The only opponent who spoke was
from the Illinois Right to Life organization (and he was so confused
as to what the bill did and did not do that his testimony was pretty
much a waste of everyone’s time)…


Well folks, we got snookered!

I have been told that late Tuesday night, the as-yet-to-be-approved amendment was posted on the Illinois leg. site. It must have been pretty late since I checked around 10:00PM and it wasn’t there.

Now, checking the history of the bill on the leg. page, it appears that after Amendment 1 was approved by the committee, it was placed on the calendar for an immediate 2nd hearing and “brief debate.” Then voted on. Besides Ms. Feigenholtz, four other committee members signed on as sponsors.

The claim that there is no opposition to HB 4623 is ludicrous. No one showed up to oppose the bill because no one knew what was in it. Professional adoptionist supporters, however, apparently had full access to the bill way ahead of time. Though Feigenholtz & Co held a press conference on Monday and said the bill would be voted on Thursday, Amendment 1 was unavailable to the public for review until late night, March 12. The public had only a press report to go by to determine what was supposedly in the bill. According to the leg. page, Amendment 1, in fact, wasn’t even filed with the clerk until the next day–the day of the hearing, March 13. It is a little difficult to prepare meaningful testimony when there is no bill to read–especially when the amendment is 77 convoluted pages long. This is all politics as usual…but what are Feigenholtz & Co afraid of? Their own constituency?

I read the bill tonight, but shall refrain for now, lest the top of my head blow off, from trying to explain in detail what HB 4623 does to Illinois adoptees, other than what I wrote two days ago–taken from the Chicago Tribune. But…

HB 4623 continues to stomp the rights of all adoptees by doling out favors to the Worthy Select and locking up the Unworthy in state vaults. It extends the control of the state over adoptees’ lives, their freedom of association, and autonomy. In a lame attempt to “balance rights” when there is no right to balance ours against, it makes things worse than they already are. It absolutely rejects the fundamental right of all adopted persons to equal legal status with the not adopted by rejecting our fundamental unrestricted right to identity, history, genealogy and our own public records. With it’s innumerable bureaucratic forms and contact preferences and disclosure options and vetoes, it treats us as dangerous out-of-control people whose own information must be controlled by the state. Worst of all, HB 4623 codifies anonymity where none now exists. This is from the introduction:

The General Assembly recognizes that it is
11 the basic right of all persons to access their birth records,
12 and, to this end, supports public policy that allows an adult
13 adoptee to access his or her original birth certificate. The
14 General Assembly further recognizes that there are
15 circumstances under which a birth parent may have compelling
16 reasons for wishing to remain anonymous to a child he or she

09500HB4623ham001 – 2 – LRB AJO 47841 a

1 surrendered for adoption. In an effort to balance these
2 interests, the General Assembly supports public policy that
3 releases a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate
4 to an adult adopted person upon request unless a specific
5 request for anonymity has been filed with the Registry by a
6 birth parent named on the original birth certificate….

Why does it take 77 pages of ass-backwards jibberish to restore birth records to SOME? Oregon’s Ballot Measure 58 was two sentences:

Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the state of Oregon shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Oregon pursuant to ORS 432.120 and 432.146. Contains no exceptions.

New Hampshire and Maine restored records access to ALL their state’s adoptees in a page or so. (I don’t have Alabama’s bill handy, but it wasn’t very long either). But then, Measure 58 was the voice of the people led by adoptees. Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine were adoptee-led bills sponsored by legislators who actually believed in the rights of adoptees and carefully shepherded their bills past the wolves. Those simple bills were neither an ego trip nor tied to pecuniary benefits of adoption industry tragedy pimps.

Maine State Senator Paula Benoit says of legislators, “Once they understand the importance of every adoptee having access to their original birth certificates, everything else becomes simple language.”

Unfortunately, Wednesday’s fast track of HB 4623 denied the Adoption Reform Committee the genuine voice of the adopted and their families and the simplicity of that message. Not one single adoptee rights organization testified one way or the other, and from Mitchell’s note it seems that no individual adoptees spoke either. Instead, the committee was told by social engineers, adoption industry hacks, and adoptive parents that it’s fine with them if we get our identity rights back. At least, some of us. And on their terms.

With friends like these…


Leave a Reply

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