Last week, the National Council for Adoption published its latest issue of Adoption Advocate: “Mutual Consent: Balancing the Birthparents Right to Privacy with the Adopted Person’s Desire to Know. The article (it is not a “report”) appears to be a better-late-than-never response to the November 2007 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report, For the Records: Restoring a Legal Right for Adult Adoptees, a document as activist, as say, the phone book.

The fuss Mutual Consent has caused in AdoptionLaLaLand is as perplexing as why in the name of St. Jerome Emiliani NCFA waited so long to repsond…or why. It’s not exactly new news that NCFA promotes sealed records. NCFA was founded in 1980 specifically to fight the Carter initiative to open records on a federal level. Although NCFA in the last couple years has put on a happy face and begun to move to the center, (no more 5 signature registry! no more dour proclamations about open adoption or “spoiled adoptees”),it continues to oppose the unsealing of records without rigmarole worthy of a Soviet propiska.

That doesn’t mean that Mutual Consent isn’t worthy of comment. But there is no need to legitimate Mutual Consent by making a big deal about it. Especially, when it’s old news. Be glad! Rather than picking and choosing around NCFA’s webpage, its spurious claims are now right at your fingertips ready for purse or pocket. But more important, this handy-dandy compendium enables us to see just how close NCFA and our well-intentioned but ineffectual liberal baby stepper reformists are. Scratch a reformist and you’ll find an attitudinal NCFAnoid in a prom gown waiting for her date to show up.

Oddly—or maybe not—NCFA, with the publication of Mutual Consent, line jumped successful grassroots, no compromise organizations, such as Bastard Nation, OBC for ME, Alabama AWARE, New Hampshire Adoption Reform Coalition, and the in-progress Illinois Open and CalOpen to beat up the Donaldson Institute–a think tank which has done nothing of substance to forward a rights-based movement, but must be important since it has an office in New York City and issues lots of press releases.

I question mark“oddly” because by sidestepping no compromise organizations and the real issue of rights and the principled people who get them, NCFA falls into the reformist frame huffing and puffing away at irrelevant reformist side issues. NCFA gives the impression that it’s blown down the house, when it’s really only knocked down a bit of decorative cladding and blown a lot of smoke out its long pointy nose and tight white ass. It can pretend it’s said something profound, when it’s really only regurgitated into its Amen Corner.

As a paternalistic corporate construct, NCFA knows it’s bobbing quicksand when it confronts ungrateful, unwashed, unfunded bastards. What do you say to them anyway? But since we don’t exist, except as product, who cares? So NCFA ignores the ungrateful, unwashed, and unfunded, and goes for its buttoned downed wrong-side-of-the-tracks sibling, Evan B. Donaldson. Respectability, foundation grants, advanced degrees, and suits are something NCFA and its board find comfortable. Uncouth bastards, with little political leverage make them itch and are strategically avoided, even if we’re the ones who have rescued obcs from the dustbin of history.

In a fit of avoidance, Mutual Consent author Marc Zapolla marginalizes real rights, and focuses much of his six pages doing a good job debunking deeply loved, soft deform therapeutic tangentials that Bastard Nation and other no-compromisers rejected more than 10 years ago: medical history, identity construction, self esteem, and (can I make this up?) inheritance rights. Has anyone argued seriously that adoptees have a “right” to double dip by automatically inheriting from their first parents? If so, I’ve never heard about it. Thankfully, Mr. Zapolla forgot incest protection.

So what NCFA ends up with in Mutual Consent is an old-as-dirt statement that continues to legitimize spurious but sexy reformist “needs” and desires” while more or less ignoring the illegalities of forged and fictive government documents, and the state confiscation and theft of the genuine. NCFA knows it can’t mount a coherent argument about anything else but the warm and cuddly.

Oh, they try, all right, but author Zapolla, and presumably the rest of NCFA are so in tune with reformist claptrap, (neither can imagine why anyone might want their obc other than to knock on mom or dad’s door to get a big hug on Christmas morning) that they’ve forgotten a lot. Like: adoptive parents getting first parent ID from court documents; courts letting records remain unsealed; courts opening records for “good cause;” the names of first parents in publicly accessible state birth indices, And, of course, the Big Bertha: records are sealed only at the time of the adoption order, not when parental rights are terminated. No adoption? No sealed records!

They’ve also forgotten there is no reasonable expectation of “privacy” in adoption or what privacy even means. Like: courts have generally construed the Constitutional right to privacy to mean protection of individuals from government intrusion. And apparently it’s forgotten the expensive Martinzing it took in Tennessee and by proxy in Oregon.

Hell, NCFA has even forgotten they started the whole thing, through it founding.

Maybe NCFA should change it’s name to National Council for Amnesia.

Read with the Bastard eye, Mutual Consent unwittingly exposes the shared attitude of NCFA, which seeks to grant as little as it can to the adopted, and reformists who settle for as little as they can get for the adopted. Read side by side there is little difference between NCFA, and we-are-not-worthy reformist campaigns. It’s a matter of degree. NCFA is just farther to the edge (but moving in). Even the full title of the NCFA paper itself (my emphasis)” Mutual Consent: Balancing the Birthparent’s Right to Privacy with the Adopted Persons’ Desire to Know, reflects reformist language, making the original birth certificate the subject of “need and “desire” rather than a “right”. A few weeks ago, at a meeting of potential supporters, language Nazi CARE (California Adoption Reform Effort) reportedly told the group that legislators prefer to hear about “needs and desires” not “rights. Apparently CARE and its ilk prefer a philosophical concept of adoptee passivity and incompletion (see its new victim video) over bastard assertiveness and inclusiveness.

NCFA and our reformists use quaint 20th century language, concept, and frame. They banish real bastards and their real families (original and adoptive), to Cuc…amonga, as they duke it out. They stick to the archaic “triad” construct, strenuously avoiding any discussion of the state, the adoption industry, and its hangers-on, of which they are a part, except to remind us of the great good or harm (depending on what side you’re on) the latter three players claim will befall the former three if we don’t listen to their educated and expertised selves. Finally, profoundly patriarchal, they seek (each for their own reasons) to continue to limit, by government force, the liberty and autonomy of bastards and their families. They seek to enact laws demarking deserving and undeserving, worthy and unworthy, by blacklisting certain classes, rather than repealing all sealed records laws and have an end to it. They fear repeal that would leave all access to birth records and the consequences up to individuals unencumbered by nannies. Since state-created adoption is their raison de etre, the idea that the government has no business dictating the lives and relationships of adults involved in adoption makes them feel as foreign as if they’d been dropped down in the middle of Chuvasiha.

Bastards who demand their obc rights without restriction or regret are considered whacked out by reactionaries on both sides of the aisle who either demand full secrecy or promote baby steps. Neither believes bastards and their brethren deserve much of anything except their benevolent corporate protection and supervision.

I know a lot of liberal reformists, and I like them. I know full well what they have put into their states, but they have not succeeded. They and their organizations have not passed one single state law that restores the right of all adoptees to their original birth certificates. Not only have reformists failed in their alleged mission, they have mucked up laws so badly with disclosure and contact vetoes, white-outs, registries, and confidential intermediaries that it is virtually more difficult today to pass a clean records bill today than it was 20 years ago.

Remember, it was not NCFA, or the ACLU or Right to Life , the hard opposition, that infected states with restrictions, but reformists themselves who willingly threw their fellow bastards, their families, and their rights to the dogs. They were more interested in getting something passed on their watch than restoring rights to all. No semi-records law, no tiered access law, has ever been revisited successfully, despite reformist promises that they can and will be. Once a disclosure veto or other discriminatory measure in in place, you’re cooked. And despite the giveaways, guess what! In states with pending gutted legislation, such as New Jersey, NCFA and its best friends still won’t budge.

This is not about Bastard Nation or any other organization. We don’t care who does it, as long as the job gets done. The restoration of our rights has been accomplished only through organizations and coalitions (one with absolutely no connection to BN, in case anybody wonders) which have , “just said no to compromise.”

Bastards who demand their obc rights without restriction or regret are marginalized by reactionaries on both sides of the aisle who either demand full secrecy or promote baby steps. As NCFA moves slowly to the center, it will, in a few years, share space with reformists. Neither believes bastards and their families deserve much of anything except benevolent corporate protection. And then what happens?

For more thoughts on this go to BB Church.


  1. Why they waited so long is not mystery to me. They had to raise money and hire a PR firm to come up with all the insane objections they came up, and primarily to coin the term “mandatory open records.” Read more at:


    They know how to sway the public and we cannot underestimate and need to get on the ball to counter this.

  2. Actually they didn’t say anything they haven’t said for 28 years. That’s why I don’t understand why everybody is having a cow.

    “Mandatory openess” has been used by NCFA for several years. It may be an Atwoodism. Marc Zapolla isn’t from a PR firm, he’s the asst. director of research, though they don’t seem to have a director. He’s been on staff for quite somem time.

  3. The Evangelicals will eat this up like pizza — NCFA’s professionally presented piece of propaganda. Nothing like a good Christian to follow blindly without thinking. If religion were kept private, that would be one thing, but I know this Mutual Consent article will be devoured and spit back at any adoption reformer who dares speak the truth.

    On the other hand, liberal thinkers, and even plain old folks with no particular interest in adoption, have recently said to me, “What do you mean the State seals you birth certificate?” Talking one on one helps.

  4. I think the million dollar shortfall between 2007 and 2008 may be due to the completion of their fed contract to indoctrinate adoption intake workers. Money from the government is both a blessing and a curse, it has to be spent on the specific program for which it’s intended and can cost more than it brings in when you factor in admin costs to run the program (the government never rewards enough to properly administer programs). When Nikfa’s contract ended, they lost dollars but they also lost the liabilities of running the program; payroll, material costs, additional admin costs, etc. Nikfa’s a non-profit, they aren’t allowed to carry over more than a prudent reserve from year to year, they have to use it or lose it…

    What orgs like Nikfa craves and needs are unrestricted dollars… dollars they can spend however they wish, on PR for instance. Nikfa’s revenue from donors appears to be stable, it even registered a little up-tick, which in last year’s economic environment counts as a win for them.

    What will be interesting is to see how they position themselves in the Obama environment. Wonder if Michelle will get an honorary chair on their board, like Hillary?

  5. The current depression we’re entering is going to be an interesting time in Adoption World. The stability of Nikfa’s donor base for one, and by donor base I mean its agency members.
    I wonder how many adoptive families financed their adoptions through second mortgages. Using your house as an ATM is no longer an option and money in general will be in short supply. Look for Nikfa to aggressively push for greater adoption subsidies from the Feds, a bailout for the adoption industry…

  6. A big of interesting trivia: A million years ago when I started writing about the poison of sealed records in the mid-Seventies, I spoke to the folks at the Child Welfare League who were learning to open records in the Carter Era…and the word I heard was that when our dear departed enemy of the free, Bill Pierce, was not made president of the CWL…he started NCFA. So NCFA then becomes nothing but a cynical response–and a job!–for a disappointed white guy. Of course, he had Gladney and LDS money behind him.

    But know this: Pierce once told Florence Fisher that the records would someday be open. He was our enemy, but he did see the writing on the wall.

    But how long O Lord must we wait?

    lorraine from firstmotherfoum.com

  7. Robin, only “uppity” Shameless Hussy mothers speak for themselves:-) By speaking out, you invalidate your “good mommy” worthy of protection status and they don’t have to listen to you. Catch 22, anyone?

    NCFA is protecting those poor shrinking violet Real Feminine Lady mothers who are cowering in their closets. They can’t speak for themselves in their little bitty girly voices, so they need the big strong manly Christian Right Real Men of NCFA to speak for them.

    Since these mythical ladies, like the Unicorn, have never been glimpsed except by the certifiably pure of heart, it is impossible to say what they really want, or even if they really exist, but that does not stop NCFA. Ya gotta BELIEVE!!! Forget reality, if it does not fit the myth.

  8. To me, the interesting thing is that they felt compelled, a year and a half later, to respond to the Donaldson report. Would have seemed more prudent to just ignore it at this stage. But, since they decided to respond, it appears that they are experiencing a lingering negative impact from it. That seems a good thing.

    Adoption is not on the average person’s radar, because it doesn’t affect them. It is something, I think, that makes the average person just a little uneasy, and they are ‘comfortable’ with the brangelina and madonna hallmark version. However, the consistency of the message that there is a dark underbelly where people are hurt is not something that the average person wants to visit in their mind unless forced to. Then the realization sets in. This is exactly what the NCFA as the industry voice is afraid of, in my opinion.

    The consistent message that the OBC is a legalized lie and a fraudulent document, and that sealed records are more to protect the butts of illicit practitioners than natural mothers or adoptive families is simple logic. It is proven by the number of reunions and the number who are seeking to know the truth about themselves.

    I am going to assume that the message of truth and simple logic, always more convincing than the sugar coated lies of the industry, are being heard by the general public, and that the NCFA is feeling that impact. I can think of no other reason for them to take the time, energy and effort to risk this report being again brought into the center of attention by rebutting it.

    And, I agree with Robin. Any permission I ever gave, either directly or inadvertently, allowing Donalson or NCFA to
    a.)speak on my behalf, or; b.)protect me and/or my rights; are hereby rescinded. I will, in future, pick my own representative to speak for me, or (horrors!!!) do it myself.

  9. I think the ruse of protecting the natural parent is a beard for protecting the industry itself.

    The subtext is these children are very unwanted and very available for assimilation into yours or any other family.

    A lot, but not all adoptive families want a child to be as if their own, without the hassle of the “natural family” I mean why else adopt?

    You do not have to adopt a child to provide the child with a permanent home or love or become the child’s legal gaurdian.

    If the family of origin were recognized as important, irreplaceable even, the industry’s problem would become two-fold esp. domestically, not only would we be suffering from lack of supply but also demand.

    It would be devastating for the industry financially and their only defense really is to paint a picture of the natural family despite the overwhelming evidence and movement to more openness as really being a shadowy, shamed, rejecting specter.

    Their arugments are bizarre red-herrings for a reason, they don’t have a solid leg to stand on.


  10. “Balancing the Birthparent’s Right to Privacy with the Adopted Person’s Desire to Know”
    This is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak.
    Switch around the words ‘right and ‘desire’ and then you’d have sense.

    As for “mandatory openness”, it disgusts me that a natural right, such as the right to one’s own history, can be be even discussed in such terms.
    A person’s history can be ‘mandatorily sealed’ (from them), and that is a grievous injustice.
    But as far as knowing the facts pertaining to one’s origins is concerned, openness ought be a given. It’s something that shouldn’t even need to be questioned.

    Now, “mandatory

  11. Has anyone noticed that the one thing that’s missing in the article is mention of “abortion”? That and all those horrible shapes of things to come that Atwood laid out in their New Hampshire piece? Like the “Death of Adoption”.

    One thing (okay there was more than one thing) that I found laughable was the insistence that adoptees desiring medical history were “free to petition a court”. Oh gee, I didn’t know it was that easy.

  12. Gaye, that “free to petition the court” idea is ludicrous on both ends. A few years ago, a mother was desperate to pass on some legitimately urgent and frightening family medical history.

    She went through every avenue and then tried to get the court to demand that the entities (a law office and a social worker) through which she surrendered her child pass on this information. She wasn’t even trying to find her child. She just wanted to make sure this vitally important information got to him. Obviously, the court felt that the “privacy” of the adopters and the facilitators was more important than the adoptee’s health and life. Her petition was denied….twice. Her son found her, years later and he had inherited the condition.

    The fact is that the real protection goes to the industry and those who support it by adopting. The average American does not relinquish their “awww-factor” mythology easily, and those in the legal profession know on which side their bread is buttered.

    Sometimes I honestly believe that mothers and adoptees are among the last of the truly oppressed minorities. We have an uphill battle. It is vital that mothers speak out and deny these people the right to speak for us.

  13. Talking of which, and just out of interest, check this out. It is Mr. Zappala talking:

    Originally from here: http://www.speroforum.com/site/
    But saved, in part, here:

    There is another aspect to the pro-abortion sentiment I’ve come across in young women which can only be described as a fear of the fetus itself. The following observation on the modern woman by Jung’s disciple psychologist Dr. Henderson seems all the more relevant in this context. . .

    . . . From a Jungian viewpoint, the modern, “liberated” woman’s aversion to the fetus and to pregnancy is actually a fierce resistance to her own evolution, for it is through surrender to her own body’s natural forces that a woman matures.
    . . . The pro-abortion position becomes unpalatable with the emergence of maturity, perhaps even impossible—the mental gymnastics necessary to justify abortion can only be accomplished by an adolescent mind. (This is not to say that all women must become pregnant to evolve, merely that pregnancy sparks the necessary transformation in many.) . . . Though herself a new life, the fetus brings death to the adolescent she inhabits by remaking her in the image of an adult woman. Thus, if abortion were banned, the result would be death for many women—but a death of the arrested self, which is invariably encouraged by any enlightened society.”


    ” I call it the “Medea complex”, and in today’s era of broken homes and absent fathers, I fear that it’s more common among young women than any of us care to realize.
    Compelling evidence for the existence of such a complex can be found in the reaction of the National Organization of Women to the Andrea Yates case in Texas, in which a religious, stay-at-home mother of five was convicted of systematically drowning her children in a bathtub back in 2001. Rather than condemn Mrs. Yates as the rest of the horrified nation was doing, then-President Patricia Ireland proclaimed that her actions showed that Americans lived in a “patriarchal society” in which women were “imprisoned at home with their children”. Furthermore, feminists wasted no time in trotting out postpartum depression as the cause of Yates’ actions, thus sending the message to American girls that, one, motherhood itself is enough to drive you insane and, two, if you do snap and kill your kids, well, that’s ok. Of course, Mrs. Yates’ actions were the consequence of her demented and abnormal mind, not the inevitable result of the traditional family
    structure. Stay-at-home mothers across the country are not one hair’s breadth away from brutally murdering their children, as NOW would like us to believe. Yet to a woman in the throes of the Medea complex, the actions of Andrea Yates were more than just a confirmation of their own paranoid beliefs— they were literally a dream come true! And therein lay the real reason behind NOW’s sympathy for this Texan murderer.

    That such a complex drives the most fanatical pro-abortionists ought to be obvious to any dispassionate observer. How else can one explain why feminists, whose first priority ought to be the well-being of women, regularly dismiss the considerable evidence linking abortion to higher rates of breast cancer, depression and suicide? When pro-abortion feminists claim that abortion is justifiable because the fetus is not a human child, I remember how naturally they sympathized with a woman who drowned her five post-natal children. It seems more likely to me that such women recognize the obvious humanity of the unborn – to which a simple ultrasound image can attest – but just don’t care about a group of human beings that are, in their eyes, nothing more than collateral damage in the ongoing war between the sexes. Put simply, I don’t believe that pro-abortion feminists are ignorant or evil. They are, however, crazy, and in the ongoing debate over fetal rights, the true lack of humanity is their own. “

  14. So do I, Joy.
    But only up to a point.

    For me that point is “the mental gymnastics necessary to justify abortion can only be accomplished by an adolescent mind. ”
    Fortunately I’ve never been in the position of needing or wanting an abortion, but I have known a number of women who were, and who made the difficult decision that it was the lesser evil under the particular circumstances in which they found themselves.
    Only one of them would I consider to have had an “adolescent mind”.

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