There’s been a lively discussion on my New Jersey: Deborah Jacobs lobs another foul blog. Ms. Jacobs, the executive director of the New Jersey ACLU, has been brave enough to enter the fray. One comment that has scored a sour note amongst our comrade mothers-in arms is her allegation that she has received scads of letters from anonymous “birthmothers” begging for anonymity.
Ms. Jacobs writes:
I also have a stack of letters in my office, most sent anonymously, from birth mothers thanking me for the ACLU-NJ’s work on this issue, talking about their experiences with adoption, and explaining why they desperately wish to remain anonymous. They include rape and incest victims, among others. They express terror at the prospect of an unwelcome knock at the door that will force them to revisit painful personal traumas of the past.
I’m sure Ms. Jacobs meant well. I don’t think she’s a bad person at all. But, save for whistleblowers, Wikileaks and secret groups fighting Hitler, anonymity has no place in honest political and policy discourse, especially when it’s about one of the country’s most murky and controversial social policies.
Adoption, though, with its built-in secrets and lies, makes anonymity acceptable for the professional adoption class to peddle its product and social myth to the gullible, innocent, and entitled. Alleged anonymous letters, phone calls, and people–no questions asked–are considered sacred text by politicians and agenda pushers; legitimate (excuse me!) tools of political manipulation. “Anonymous sources” can be counted on to kneecap bastards whenever we attempt to break out of government vaults.
Anonymous mothers were recruited to file suit in what became Doe v Sundquist, to stop implementation of Tennessee’s flawed and conditional open records law. Anonymous mothers were also recruited through adoption lobbyist-placed newspaper ads to bring suit to stop Oregon’s M58 from going into effect. Both suits were unsuccessful and gave us strong opinions that rejected the claim that parents have a “right to anonymity” from their own offspring.
In May 1999, Bastard Nation’s In the Belly of the Beast protest shut down National Council for Adoption. In response to the rally, NCFA president Bill Pierce, quoted in Washington City Paper, evoked anonymous mothers:
They (“birthmothers“) might have had some sexual activities, might have indulged in some recreational drug use,” he says. “Let’s assume I used marijuana in the past and had sex and also had anal sex with a woman who may have had anal sex with a guy who is gay. And I also had a bout of depression, and there may be some biochemical or genetic thing. There is zero chance you’re going to get a candid background history if they know it will be accessible. So they’ll say, ‘My health is perfectly good.’
At about the same time he was protecting the reps of brave but promiscuous, depressed, buggered drugged up women (r. bevy of mothers supporting their bastards at the protest.), Dr. Pierce claimed that NCFA was organizing a lobby of anonymous mothers apparently immune from insult, to hide their good names from their bastard offspring. A couple years later when he was no longer helming NCFA, Bill told me in a personal conversation that he’d made the whole thing up. Of course, he did, and we all knew it all along.
As we have pointed out ad infinitum, there are any number of ways the identity of a “birithparent” can be obtained quite legally: government-mandated legal advertisements published in newspapers at the time of surrender, court documents given to adoptive parents, and court orders. Our opponents avoid the most inconvenient truth: birth certificates are sealed only at the time of adoption finalization, not at relinquishment. Not adopted? The records remains unsealed. Adoption overturned? Records are unsealed. Promises or guarantees of “birthparent anonymity” do not appear in any known termination of parental rights or any other adoption legal document. If they did, we’d have seen them by now. If “birthparents” were meant to be anonymous, original birth certificates would be destroyed, not sealed.
IF IT SAVES JUST ONE!
Liberal and centrist deformers, like to cover their arguments with the patina of the political: rights restoration. Their arguments, however, no matter what they claim, are framed in the personal: psychological need, medical history, and reunion
Sad stories of personal despair, psychological wounds, illness, and death outnumber rights/political arguments in the public debate. These narratives can be heartbreakingly true, but irrelevant to genuine change. Unless carefully constructed and strategically placed, the warm and cuddly story time backfires, furnishing the opposition with ammunition to alter and kill bills. Framed in terms of desire and private need rather than political rights their telling:
- establish opportunities for legislative compromise that increase government control over private personal relationships and cement the sealed records system tighter;
- invent a divide-and-conquer individual personal solution for a class and political problem;
- create options of anonymous medical registries, state-run CI and mutual consent programs, and disclosure and contact vetoes that subvert the goal of obcs on demand.
Ultimately, the schizoid message confuses legislators and the public and makes deformers untrustworthy to carry through any bill campaign with integrity.
I’ve attended obc hearings in Ohio, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. I have listened to hearings in othe states online. I’ve racked my brain, but I can’t remember one single instance of NCFA and other opponents ever presenting a serious civil rights claim against adoptee right to obc access. That’s because they have none.
Unable to build a legal case against obc access, opponents instead attempt to disenfranchise adoptees as a class. They smear and isolate adoptees as cranky, disturbed, ungrateful, and possibly dangerous. They shift the focus from what they term our “selfish” demand for our rights to a “selfless”adoption industry-driven special right of parental anonymity with no basis in law or adoption practice and policy. We’re just a bunch of home wreckers.
Adoptees are othered by opponents. Never explaining how adoptees–whose social status as children they claim has been normalized by adoption– are unworthy as adults of normal treatment under law–they fuss about speculative harm individual adoptees might cause “birthmothers” should our rights be restored en masse.
Absurdly, anti-adoptee lobbyists and special interests argue that the government has a duty to protect “birthmothers,” heretofore considered sweated labor unworthy of their own legal protections, from hurt feelings and family secrets. Dads are rarely mentioned, and then only as drive-bys and sperm donors. Like Boy Scouts dragging Grandma across the street, these lobbyists, generally have no relation to adoption except through a paycheck. They claim to speak for those of who actually live with adoption and its consequences. They begin by arguing that adoption is a win-win-win, solution to inconvenient pregnancy, the shame of bastardy, and frustrated infertility. They end whimpering threats of the emotional (if not real) bloodbath their trifecta might inflict on one another if not constrained by the paternalistic hand of the state.
That an adoptee might just want his or her obc without a “mother and child reunion” never crosses their mind. Why anyone but the adopted class can get their birth certificates without the third degree and somebody else’s permission is left unanswered.
THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?
It’s not surprising that NCFA & Co use the reunion model to repudiate obc access, since reunion is the deform meme by which both parties operate. Deformers, enamoured with the reunion paradigm, continually feed NCFAnoids with the very language and concepts opponents use against obc access. Deformers spiel reunionist semantics. and social constructs. Opponents reel it in, tease it, and toss it back, snagging deformers on their own fish hook. Both debate adoption domesticity and personal relationships and skirt political rights.
As I’ve said elsewhere:
The not-adopted need not justify why they want their vital records nor are they forced to ask their parents’ permission, grovel before a judge, join a government registry, seek mental health counseling, or spend years getting a bill passed to get them. They have presumed right to their own birth certificates and can do with them what they please. All arguments for access, therefore, must flow from the presumed right of all adults to unrestricted access and possession of their true birth certificates, not just a majority class. Otherwise, the right of anyone to possess their own birth certificate is not a right but a favor the state grants to some…
If we follow the party line of deformers and secret keepers, all birth certificates should be sealed and only available to whomever they pertain after bureaucratic drilling and promises to abjure unauthorized activities with the document.
JUST SAY NO!
Any of us who do media interviews knows that reporters always come back to our “personal story,” which they believe is sexier than political discourse. Although nobody ever accuses genealogists of psychological distress, adoptees must suffer some psychological problem to dare question adoption authority. So what happened to you to make you feel so…er…passionate?
It’s really difficult for most people to tell media that our private stories are not up for discussion. With notable exceptions adoption narratives without skillful weaving with the political, are irrelevant to our desired positive outcome. Most are not, in fact, that interesting except to us.
We can not avoid the reunion issue all together, since it is constantly used against us.We can, however, demand that the restoration of our right to obc access be the centerpiece of ALL discussion. Demand that NCFA, the ACLU, “right to life lobbyists, feminists, bishops, social workers, and bureucrats divvy up their legal facts why we are not entitled to our obcs. Force them to address on legal grounds why our rights should not be restored. Force them to explain why we do not have a right to a document that every not-adopted has. Speculative harm to other people’s interests doesn’t count.
NOTICE! Because of a planned demonstration today from about 12 to 1, we are asking that anyone with business with NCFA call for an appointment in advance of entering the premises. Then come up and ring bell, identify yourself and you will be given entry. ALL OTHERS TODAY ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED: NO TRESPASSING. Bill Pierce “.
Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, Marley. I think there is another issue explaining why open records passed in Oregon where there was an initiative and has had so much difficulty in most states where it’s a matter of legislators voting. I think most legislators tend to identify with the (imagined) person who feels they have something in their past to hide, because so many legislators feel themselves vulnerable to disclosures about themselves.
Scratching my head here…how did some of these ‘anonymous’ “birthmothers” become pregnant with child, if they spent their sexual time engaged in *buggering* activities???? Dear Bill…did you miss your lessons in how babies are conceived? And why would Dear Bill…equate “birthmothers” with “anal” sex? Bill.. methinks you had a personal issue..yes, no?? One does have to wonder.
It would be quite easy for deformers to send anonymous letters pretending they are from birth mothers who feel they can not receive a phone call from their offspring. I can’t imagine that they would ever hold up in a court of law. Therefore they should not be used to try to prevent unrestricted OBC access to ALL adopted adults.
I’m sure there are a few birth mothers who prefer to never receive a phone call but they have had years to prepare for a possible one and should know how to handle it. What would they do if an undesirable person moved in next door?
A civil right needs to be restored to all adopted adults – unrestricted OBC access. Anything less is not acceptable.
As far as I’m concerned any person and/or group that supports anything less than open records for ALL adult adopted citizens is guilty of promoting legalized incest. My opinion goes for deformers as well.
About those anonymous letters from closet moms….I’m sure some of them are real, but so what? Many people who had a lousy, brief early marriage, or maybe a string of marriages, may wish to hide that fact from potential new mates, the public, their family, their Church etc. They may even had Very Good Reasons.
What does the state and the law say to that? Tough shit, marriage and divorce records are public, no matter how nasty the details. You can lie and hide all you want, but the state is not going to cover for you. It’s a personal problem, dearie!
So why is the state covering for Moms who are embarrassed that they were unwed mothers and gave up a child, especially why is that information not easily available to said child? Somehow this just does not make sense.
I think Marianne Novy is on to something about politicians and secrets and lies:-)
legislators identify with the (imagined) person who have something in their past to hide, because so many legislators feel themselves vulnerable to disclosures about themselves.
Thank you Marianne Novy…and Marley. I just was to ditto that. And it may also be the reason (the closet issues) why we have so much trouble getting gay legislators to support our bill in New York.
I’m glad to know the ACLU supports Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell in adoption.
interesting isnt it marianne? about what you posted about secrets and lies?
that, by these polititcians, etc, feeling guilt and shame and hiding about what it is THEY arent facing up to personally or whatever…
heh/lol, that means they think that everyone else feels guilt and shame and wants needs to hide???
OMG!!! i think not!!!
sounds as if the dirty dealin backwards politicians arent honest , in more ways than one…especially in their personal lives…