Thursday, May 18, 2006
You can read more of Erik's work here.
CASE BRIEF: Homosexuals and Adoption--equal protection
Lofton v. Secretary of the Dept. of Children & Family Services No. 01-16723 (11th Cir. 01/28/2004) (Casemaker cite--federal library)
Florida law prohibited adoption by any "homosexual" person. 1977 Fla. Laws, ch. 77-140, § 1, Fla. Stat. § 63.042(3) (2002). "Homosexual" meant applicants "known to engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity." Florida law let unmarried people adopt, many of whom had adopted out of foster care.
Homosexual foster parents challenged the statute on equal protection grounds, arguing that homosexuals were similarly situated to unmarried persons regarding Florida's interest in promoting married-couple adoption. [FN1] Neither party disputed that any fundamental right to adopt existed or that Florida's preference for marital adoptive families was a legitimate state interest. No court has found homosexuals to be a suspect class. Thus the rational-basis test applied.
Unless the challenged classification burdens a fundamental right or targets a suspect class, the Equal Protection Clause requires only that the classification be rationally related to a legitimate state interest. Citing Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 631 (1996).
"Could the Florida legislature have reasonably believed that prohibiting adoption into homosexual environments would further its interest in placing adoptive children in homes that will provide them with optimal developmental conditions."
(1) Florida need not show that homosexuals pose a greater threat than other unmarried adults who are allowed to adopt. Rather, the question was one of rationality.
(2) "It is not irrational to think that heterosexual singles have a markedly greater probability of eventually establishing a married household and, thus, providing their adopted children with a stable, dual-gender parenting environment."
(3) It was rational to believe that heterosexual singles are better positioned than homosexual individuals to educate and guide their adopted children regarding their sexual development. Because most adopted children will develop heterosexual preferences, those children will need education and guidance after puberty about relating to the opposite sex. It therefore serves the child's best interests to have parents who can personally relate to the child's problems and assist the child in transitioning to heterosexual adulthood. [FN 2]
(4) Because adopted children often have developmental problems arising from adoption, having a stable heterosexual household during and after puberty might be more important for adopted children than for other children.
(5) Whether the Florida legislature was misguided was a question of legislative policy, not constitutional law. "The legislature is the proper forum for this debate."
FN 1: This brief omitted Loften's due process challenge, which failed mainly because Loften could not establish threats to already existing "family integrity" or "private sexual intimacy."
FN 2: Petition for Rehearing En Banc was denied in July 2004. Petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in January 2005.
The Florida statute violates equal protection. The court reasoned:
"It is not irrational to think that heterosexual singles have a markedly greater probability of eventually establishing a married household and, thus, providing their adopted children with a stable, dual-gender parenting environment."
But single persons are either fit to adopt when they adopt, or they are not. The state cannot let single parents adopt without assuming they will stay fit if they stay single. Under that assumption, single parents do not further the state's goal of providing a "stable, dual-gender parenting environment."
The court next reasoned that it was rational to believe that heterosexual singles were better positioned than homosexual individuals to educate and guide their adopted children regarding their sexual development. Because most adopted children will develop heterosexual preferences, those children will need education and guidance about relating to the opposite sex. It therefore serves the child's best interests to have parents who can personally relate to the child's problems and assist the child in transitioning to heterosexual adulthood.
But that assumes that homosexual and heterosexual relationships differ fundamentally. The difference cannot be gender-based because the legislature assumes a heterosexual parent can counsel either a son or a daughter about heterosexual relationships. In turn, the legislature assumes that homosexuals cannot relate to heterosexual children regardless their sex. Thus, the legislature assumes some difference in the psychological make-up of homosexual relationships beyond mere sexual "orientation."
But there is no evidence of it. The belief that a difference exists is therefore not rational, but prejudicial. The state must show some evidence of a fundamental difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals in their psychology--beyond the existence of the relationship itself--before it can assume that single homosexuals are less stable than single heterosexuals, or even that there is such a thing as a "homosexual environment."
For those reasons, I believe the Florida statute violates equal protection.
Erik L. Smith
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The following comments were made by long-time adoptee/birthparent rights activist Maryanne Cohen. They are published here with her permission.
To the anti-adoption folks lurking here:
I think you are sincere in your beliefs and that you do want to accomplish
your agenda of abolishing adoption, in which case you will need to present
your views convincingly and factually in the political arena, again and
again, as well as to the general public to gain support for any legislation
you may introduce. I know this is the goal of those of us who support
adoption reform; not just to talk endlessly to ourselves and each other,
but to actually effect some change where we can.
If you are serious about abolishing adoption, which is a legal construct,
you have to be ready to deal with the world of politics, which is not a
kinder, gentler place. As Harry Truman said, "if you can't stand the heat,
get out of the kitchen."
You may be upset at some of the challenges to your beliefs you have
encountered here, but believe me, this is NOTHING to what you will
encounter in the political arena and outside world. You seem so shocked
that some of us who share your experience as surrendering mothers have
drawn different conclusions from that experience, and do not share or
understand some of your jargon. Just think how people who have never heard
of our issues will react to your arguments! We have really done you a favor
in giving you the opportunity to debate and look closely at the arguments
you are presenting. Do they convince people? Are they logical? Do you have
real facts, not made up statistics, to back them up? How will "I am the
only real true mother" play out in legislative testimony? Especially when
some of the legislators are adoptive parents, and most people who would
support many reforms still will not accept that adoptive parents are not
parents in any real sense.
How many of you have testified at legislative hearings, appeared on TV talk
and news shows with hostile interviewers, spoken to angry adoptive parent
groups, in person, given interviews in either print or other media where
the one bad thing you said in a two hour interview was made the headline?
How many of you have come out your local community, spoken at your church
or synagogue about adoption issues, tried to understand and work within the
political system to get anything passed? How many of you have stood up
against the representatives of NCFA, the Catholic Conference, Right to Life
and others in public testimony about adoption issues?
Many of us here have done this, some of us for 30 years when you all were
deep in the closet.
This is the very minimum of what you will have to do to have any hope at
all of changing things legislatively. If you expect to do more than blow
hot air at each other and preach to the choir, you have to take your ideas
and beliefs outside of your own "safe space" and see how they stand up to
the heavy pressure that is out there. Are you up for that? It is not fun.
It beats you into the ground with frustration and tears again and again and
again. But it is what has to be done to really change things, although most
of it is painful, boring, and far from glorious. Maybe when you actually
try to do something besides pat each other on the back on closed email
lists, you will develop a little respect for CUB and those who went before
you in speaking out for mothers who had surrendered, and for our children.
As for support, there is lots of support here, for anyone, in dealing with
their own personal pain and post reunion issues. if you want to discuss
those things and leave your political agenda for your own lists, we are
always glad to hear from you and will try to be as helpful and supportive
as we can.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
MASHA TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS: " NO ONE FROM ANY OF THE ADOPTION AGENCIES EVER CAME TO CHECK ON ME
To read more about Masha and her case go to Bastardette's Masha postings here ,here, and here. These blogs also contain numerous links for further research.
Testimony submitted by
House Energy and Commerce Committee
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Oversight Hearing on Child Pornography on the Internet
May 3, 2006
My name is Masha Allen. I am 13 years old and live near Atlanta, Georgia with my mother, Faith Allen. When I was five years old Matthew Mancuso, a Pittsburgh businessman who was a pedophile, adopted me. I was rescued almost three years ago when the FBI raided his home in a child pornography sting. After I was rescued I learned that during the five years I lived with Matthew he took hundreds of pornographic pictures of me and traded them over the Internet. Thank you for conducting this hearing. Also, thank you for letting me have Nancy Grace here. Nancy is really special to my family and me. She has been an advocate for me and lots of other kids. The Internet is everywhere in my story. You need to do something about it right away.
I was born on August 25, 1992 in Novochakhtinsk, Russia. For the first three years of my life I lived at home with my mother and siblings. My mother was an alcoholic. When I was three years old she tried to kill me. She stabbed me in the neck and I almost died. The government took me away from her and I went to live in an orphanage near my family’s home in Russia.
Living in the orphanage was scary and dangerous. There was constant noise and the older children abused the younger ones. I was afraid all the time. I kept all of my belongings under my pillow because I was afraid they would be stolen. After living in the orphanage for two years I found out that I was going to be adopted.
Matthew visited the orphanage a couple of times. He seemed nice. He gave me presents. I asked him if he was married and if I would have a mother but he said no. He adopted me in Russia in July 1998. After that we left Russia and traveled to his house outside of Pittsburgh. The abuse started the night I got there.
Matthew didn’t have a bedroom for me. He made me sleep in his bed from the very beginning. He molested me all the time. He made me dress up in adult’s clothes and even pretended to marry me. Sometimes he kept me chained in the basement. Because he didn’t want me to grow up, he only let me eat a little bit of food – plain pasta, raw vegetables, no meat. Five years after I went to live with him I had only gained a little bit of weight. When I was rescued I was 10 years old but I only wore a size 6X.
Matthew let me go to school and sometimes play with friends. But he told me if I ever told anyone what was happening that something bad would happen to me. Even though I was the size of a five year old when I was ten, no one at my school ever said anything to anyone. No one from the adoption agency ever came to check on me to make sure I was OK. I never told anyone about the abuse because I was afraid and I thought no one cared.
A lot of people ask me how any could let a pedophile adopt a little girl. I didn’t know very much about my adoption until my lawyer investigated everything. Now I know there were three adoption agencies involved in my adoption by Matthew. The first was Families Thru International Adoption in Indiana. I think Matthew found them on the Internet. He went to an office they had in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey found out that they were operating without a license and closed them down. The same people who worked for that agency just started a new agency in the same office in New Jersey that they called Reaching Out Thru International Adoption.
The two agencies are fighting over who was really responsible for Matthew adopting me. But the name of Families Thru International Adoption is on the home study, the immigration paperwork and the Russian government documents. I think Matthew also paid Families Thru International Adoption. Reaching Out Thru International Adoption was really just the same agency and the same people with a different name. A third agency did Matthew’s home study to adopt me. They were in Pittsburgh and were called the Family Health Council. But they just changed their name too, to Adagio Health.
I found out after I was safe that none of these agencies asked Matthew many questions. They never really checked him out. They showed him pictures of me, probably on the Internet, before he had a home study to adopt me. In some of the pictures they showed him of me from the orphanage I was naked. He told them he was divorced and had a daughter that he wasn’t close to. I found out later that the reason his daughter didn’t talk to him is that he molested her too. While I lived with Matthew no one from any of the adoption agencies ever came to check on me even though the Russian government requires it. Since my story came out we found out that two other kids – a boy from Romania and a girl from Russia – were adopted by pedophiles too. Just so you’ll know, fourteen other Russian kids have actually been murdered by their adoptive parents in America. I’m sure there are other kids in trouble. But no one seems to care about any of this. When I told my story in public for the first time all the adoption agencies, not just Matthew’s tried to cover up my story.
I lived with Matthew for five years. The whole time he starved and molested me. The whole time he took a lot of pictures of me. I didn’t know until later that he was putting my pictures on the Internet to trade and maybe sell to other pedophiles. I was rescued when the FBI discovered that Matthew had a lot of child pornography on his computer. They came to raid his house. They didn’t know I would be there.
When the FBI arrested Matthew I was taken to the hospital, examined and then put in foster care. My foster mother was Faith Allen. She understood what I was going through because she was sexually abused when she was little. She was a foster child in Georgia when she was growing up. As soon as I went to live with her I felt safe. She adopted me on May 14, 2004.
Matthew was prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh and on September 25, 2003 he was convicted on child pornography charges for all the pictures he had on his computer. He was only sentenced to fifteen years in prison for that. I was afraid he would get out of jail too soon. He was convicted again in Pennsylvania state court on August 23, 2005 of eleven criminal acts for some of the things he did to me. He was sentenced last November to 35 years in prison. I was really upset that he didn’t receive a harder sentence. I was even more upset that he was sent to a hospital in Massachusetts so he could be rehabilitated. A person like Matthew can never be rehabilitated. Plus in this hospital prison he has free health care, free mental health services and he can read magazines, play ping-pong and have hobbies. No one cared about rehabilitating me. I just lost my Medicaid and my mom has to work double hard to pay for the things I need while Matthew lays around the hospital playing games.
I was really mad that Matthew didn’t get harder sentences and that he went to an easy prison. But I got much more upset when I found out about the pictures of me that he put on the Internet. I had no idea he had done that. When I found out about it I asked our lawyer to get them back. He told me we couldn’t do that. Then I found out that they would be there forever. That’s when I got mad and decided to go public with my story.
Usually, when a kid is hurt and the abuser goes to prison, the abuse is over. But because Matthew put my pictures on the Internet the abuse is still going on. Anyone can see them. People are still downloading them – we get notices from the FBI every time someone is arrested for it. I want every single one of them to go to jail and really be punished. But that’s a problem too.
I found out last summer that if someone downloads a song off the Internet the penalty is three times worse than if someone downs child pornography. I couldn’t believe it! How can this be? That’s when I decided that we had to change the laws about downloading child porn. Senator Kerry and Senator Isakson and Congressman Gingery and Congressman Tierney introduced bills in Congress that make the penalty the same as downloading songs. That was a few months ago. There hasn’t been a vote on it. I want every single member of Congress to sponsor these bills and I want the Congress to pass them right away.
There are a lot of cases of people who downloaded my pictures and I want every single one of them to be punished as much as possible. There might be more pictures of me on the Internet than any other real child. The police told my lawyer that a lot of child pornographers – more than half even – have my picture on their computers. And there are a lot of other kids like me too. The people who are doing this should be afraid. We know who they are. A lot of the people downloading these pictures are professionals. They are doctors and teachers and ministers. We’re going to put THEIR pictures on the Internet and tell people what they are doing. People stopped downloading songs when they found out they could be sued. We’re going to sue these guys too – every single one we find out about. I want to tell them, “You’re not doing this in secret anymore. Everyone can find out who you are!”
I’m more upset about the pictures on the Internet than I am about what Matthew did to me physically. A lot of people are surprised that I wanted to go public with my story. But I’ve been on the Internet since I was five years old. Going on a television show wasn’t going to hurt me. I did it because I didn’t think anyone was doing enough about the things that happened to me and to a lot of other kids. Talking to John Quinones and Nancy Grace has helped me. They were my champions. I feel in charge of my story because of them. I know they will help me to help other kids like me. People need to know about this stuff. The adults who let this happen have just tried to cover it up.
You have to do something about the Internet. Matthew found the adoption agency on the Internet. They let him look at my pictures from Russia on the Internet even though they didn’t really know anything about him. Other kids have been adopted by pedophiles the same way. Matthew put my pictures on the Internet after he got me. People are still downloading them even though he has been in prison for two years. We don’t even know whether he still makes money for them even though he’s in jail. Even now that I’m safe the Internet is still a dangerous place for me to go. The police detective who found Matthew’s house for the FBI said I should never go to chat rooms even for fun things because they almost always have predators.
Ten years ago I was a scared little girl in a Russian orphanage. For five years I was held hostage by a monster. But in the last two years a lot of amazing things have happened. John Quinones and Nancy listened to me and told my story to the whole world. I called my Congressman, Dr. Gingery, who didn’t even know me. He introduced a bill in Congress right away to help me and other kids like me. Because of all these things, I believe I can do something for other kids so they don’t have to go through what I did.
Some people say we can’t control what’s on the Internet but that’s ridiculous. If we can put a man on the moon, we can make the Internet safe for kids. That’s just common sense. I’m going to work hard to protect other kids and make sure people who hurt them are punished. I hope you will help me. You can start by passing Masha’s Law right away! That would be a good start!
Witness contact information:
James Marsh, Esquire
Marsh, Menken and Weingarden, PLLC
81 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10606
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Bethany Christian Services bloviates:
Pam Wood, director of Bethany Christian Services in North Andover, which arranges adoptions, said the legislation reflects an increasing openness. "Older adoptions were in the dark and people hid that they'd had a child," Wood said. "The trend is toward more openness." Her agency arranges adoptions where birth and adoptive parents are in touch for years, allowing the children to know their heritage while permitting parents access to important medical information.
Excuse me, Pam! So-called "open-adoption" has nothing to do with access to birth certificates or court documents that belong to adults. Amended SB 959 has nothing to do with the natural right of identity--except to selectively abrogate that right. Amended SB 959 just continues the bad old system you pretend to tsk tsk. Under Amended SB 959 "old adoptees "stay hidden.
And while I'm at it, check out what Bethany says about "confidential adoption," which it continues to flog under the rubric of "choice." You'd think that Bethany, a flagship National Council for Adoption (NCFA) agency, would know better than to post lies on the Internet:
(1) Access to finding a birthparent is limited by law and must be by mutual agreement at the time the child is of legal age.
There is no law anywhere against searching for anybody.
Access to "finding a birthparent" is NOT limited by law NOR is it determined by mutual agreement when "the child is of legal age."
Thousands of adoption searches are completed each year by adult adoptees, underage adoptees, and adoptive parents without the consent of anybody.
The vast majority of searches are completed without an original birth certificate or court documents.
In some adoptions, birthparent identity is on court documents given to adoptive parents when the adoption is ordered-- without birthparent consent.
Judges can open adoption records whenever they please--without birthparent consent.
In some states (ex. Ohio, Illinois and Oregon) adoptive parents can request the court to keep original birth certificates unsealed-- without birthparent consent.
Laws change all the time--without birthparent consent.
If a child is surrendered but never adopted, the original birth certificate remains unsealed.
(2) The adult child must contact the state central adoption registry.
And what "state central adoption registry" might that be? According to Bethany's website, it operates in 75 locations in 30 states with "ministries" in 16 countries. It seems, however, to have no clue about registry operation, rules, and availability.
Not every state operates a "registry." Bastardette has not been able to find the number of current state registries, but according to NCFA Factbook 3 (1999) (I know! but what's a Bastardette to do?) 20 states don't. Some states have stipulations that limit use. New Jersey's registry, for example, applies only to those adopted through the public system. Bethanyites need not apply!
No law anywhere requires adopted persons to join a "state central adoption registry" to locate a birthparent nor could a state make such a requirement.
Of course nobody bloviates on secret adoption better than NCFA:
Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, said his group opposes the legislation. He worries that the contact preference form that a parent fills out won't prevent adopted children from seeking out their birth parents once that information is made public.
SORRY TO SCREAM BUT...
Amended SB 959 does NOT contain a contact preference form. It contains a birthparent DISCLOSURE VETO: an enforceable contract between the state and the birthparent where the state promises it will not release the adult adoptee's birth certificate to the adoptee without the written consent of the birthparent. Since no certificate can be released, it is a physically impossible for the adoptee to use it to "seek out" birthparents.
Amended SB 959 (and the original clean bill) does not pertain to "adopted children." It pertains to adopted adults.
Amended SB 959 (and the original clean bill) does NOT release the original birth certificate to the public. The birth certificate is released to the adult adoptee only or to the under-age adoptee's "forever parents." You know, those parties NCFA claims to represent and protect from something-or-other.
For all the good it does, NCFA may as well complain about state laws that mandate release of non-ID information-- to adopteees--information often used to facilitate their searches. Or for that matter... the phone book. The former Soviet Union outlawed phone books. If it was good enough for Stalin, it should be s good enough for NCFA.
He also thinks making future adoptions public could have unintended consequences. "We believe a woman with an unplanned pregnancy should have the right to chose a confidential adoption," Atwood said. "If you remove the confidential option, then the only confidential option left is abortion."
Tom! Tom! Tom! Childbirth is not a "confidential" act. Bone up on Sundquist. You--or should I say my Beloved Mentor Billy Lee-- paid enough for that bath.
Surrender and adoption are not reproductive rights. Surrender and adoption are not covered by medical privacy laws. Surrender and adoption are legal procedures to which any number of individuals are a party to--including the adoptee.
Court adoption documents are not available to the public for the asking. If birthparents and adopters want to publicize the happy event they're free to do it on their own dime, not yours. I know it's painful, but if they want to do the Maury Povich Baby Daddy Dance, you can't stop them.
And while I'm at it, what's so awful about abortion? I realize it's difficult for the theocons currently helming NCFA to comprehend that some women just don't want to be pregnant. And (gasp!) they don't feel a personal duty or civic responsibility to do something they don't want to do (be pregnant) to furnish "desperate couples" with their dream baybee. The US isn't Romania--yet!
In February 2003. The Weekly Standard published a letter from Bastardette taking Terry Eastland to task for bemoaning the lack of adoptable newborns available to worthy couples. WS archives are available to subscribers only, but you can read the text of the letter here.
Bastardette gives the same advice to NCFA now as she did the womb sniffing Trotskyites at the Weekly Standard then:
If you really want to make adoption a more attractive option, stop treating adoption and adoptees as a dirty little state secret, and give us our records. And while you're at it, stop acting as if women are breeder cows. Moo!
COMPLETE TEXT OF ARTICLE
LAWRENCE EAGLE-TRIBUNE, MAY 5, 2006
Law giving adopted children their birth records gains steam
By Ed Mason
BOSTON - Adults who were adopted would have greater access to their
birth records under a plan gaining strength among state lawmakers.
Massachusetts has kept birth records sealed since 1974. But a bill
being considered by the Legislature would allow adopted children, who
are now 18 or older, to have access to their birth certificates.
Adoptive parents could request records for their children younger than
To access the records, the adopted person would have to have been born
in Massachusetts on or before July 14, 1974, or after Jan. 1, 2008. The
2008 start date was chosen to give prospective birth parents
substantial notice that the law was changing.
People born between those years would access the information through
the Registry of Vital Statistics. A connection between biological
parents and child would be made if the birth records indicate the
parents want to be contacted. Going forward, birth parents would sign a
form indicating if they want to be contacted by their child.
State Rep. Karen E. Spilka, D-Framingham, said the exemption of nearly
34 years protects birth parents who gave up children for adoption
during those years when records were sealed.
"We're trying to say that we're not changing the rules midstream," said
Spilka, co-chairwoman of the Legislature's Children and Families
Committee, which approved the bill yesterday.
The bill approved by that committee was a compromise. The legislation
originally would have opened all birth records.
State Rep. Barbara A. L'Italien, D-Andover, said there shouldn't be any
restriction on birth record access. L'Italien, also a member of the
Children and Families Committee, said she is concerned the legislation
excludes a large group of adopted people just because of when they were
"Everyone should be able to obtain their birth certificate," she said.
L'Italien noted that adopted children also need birth certificates to
find out their medical histories. She said it's possible the bill could
be amended to allow for medical histories to be obtained
Adopted people born in Massachusetts now must go to court to get their
birth records. People born after the nearly 34-year exception period in
the bill also would have to go to court if birth records indicate the
parents don't want their information disclosed.
But concerns over divulging the identities of anonymous birth mothers
has been a central reason why the bill has failed to become law in the
10 years its sponsors have pushed it. Some lawmakers blocked the bill
for fear the Legislature would be breaking an implied promise of
confidentiality made to birth parents.
Parents with adopted children have pushed for the change in the law.
Helen Killian, an adoptive parent from Concord, who attended the
Statehouse hearing, said her 39-year-old daughter should be able to
have an accurate record of her birth - not a certificate with her
adoptive parents' name on it.
Killian also said advances in medical treatment make it important for
adopted children to know their family medical history.
Pam Wood, director of Bethany Christian Services in North Andover,
which arranges adoptions, said the legislation reflects an increasing
"Older adoptions were in the dark and people hid that they'd had a
child," Wood said. "The trend is toward more openness."
Her agency arranges adoptions where birth and adoptive parents are in
touch for years, allowing the children to know their heritage while
permitting parents access to important medical information.
Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, said his
group opposes the legislation. He worries that the contact preference
form that a parent fills out won't prevent adopted children from
seeking out their birth parents once that information is made public.
He also thinks making future adoptions public could have unintended
"We believe a woman with an unplanned pregnancy should have the right
to chose a confidential adoption," Atwood said. "If you remove the
confidential option, then the only confidential option left is
The amended version of SB 959 is not yet online. But, according to the letter from Rep. John Lepper (below) adults adopted in Massachusetts prior to 1974 and after 2008 will be "allowed" to get their birth certificates. The blackholers--those unfortunate enough to have been dumped on the adoption market at an arbitrary inappropriate moment in history--will be denied the natural right to identity and the unrestricted legal right to their own birth certificates if their former parents object. Unless, of course, they want to grovel before a judge and beg to be treated not only the same as the non-adopted, but the worthy adopted.
The amended SB 959 is NOT an adoptee rights bill.
The amended SB 959 is NOT a records access bill.
The amended SB 959 is a table scrap thrown to do-gooding keep-your-mouth-shut deformers to shut them up. After all, if "most" adoptees can get their records, what's the big deal? " You can always come back and pick up the rest later. "
And when might that "later" be?
Here in Ohio we've had this despicable class system since 1964. The General Assembly has rejected repeated attempts to pull out the blackholers. In 1995, in fact, to sweeten the pot, deformers gave up the post- '63 s and accepted a compromise to create a disclosure veto for post-September 15, 1996 adoptees, thus, letting the state execute a legal contract with birthparents at the time of surrender guaranteeing that birth certificates will never be released to dirty little secrets without their ex-parent's consent.
Talk about special rights!
No other parent or adult has the "right" to stop the state from releasing a birth certificate to the person it belongs to--unless that person is adopted. Obviously, we're the special ones! We enjoy a special right to be treated different from everybody else. After all, we could have been tossed in a dumpster. Birth secrecy is for our own good.
I diverge a moment: Massachusetts birthmothers (in AdoptionLand birthdads don't count!) happily joined adoptees in the battle for a clean SB 959. All birthmothers who testified before the Joint Committee supported full and unrestricted access to birth certificates. They testified repeatedly that no "promises of confidentiality" were ever made to them nor did they want such promises . Ideologistic promises that need "protected" exist in the patronizing misogynist imagination of legislators who see birthmothers as weak, fragile, incompetent, and unable to control their personal decisions and relationships without the back-up of state thugs.
The Massachusetts attack on adoptees is not unexpected. SB 959 sponsor, San. Fargo and her aides have repeatedly refused to talk to records access advocates inside and outside of Massachusetts, as has committee chair Karen Spilka and her staff. Bastardette has been told that even influential child welfare organizations were kept out of the loop. The debate was left to rumor, and stakeholders left holding the stake with no where to pound it.
But then, SB 959 isn't about adoptees, is it?
SB 959 is business as usual.
SB 959 is about legislators' business.
B 959 is about legislators and their agendas. mythologies and friends in high places.
To hell with adoptees!.
Well, TO HELL WITH SB 959!
According to Rep. Lepper, SB 959's next stop will be the Senate, so there is still time to kill this abomination. SB 959 in its new and improved form needs to die a quick death--or be amended back to it's original pristine form-- an unlikely occurrence.
If anybody in the Senate wants a clean bill, then they'd better be willing to talk to us. Now. Otherwise....
Killing SB 959 will no doubt make Bastard Nation, MARTA and anyone else who believes in authentic adopta-equality adopta-pariahs.
So be it!
A bad law is not better than no law.
A favor is not better than a right.
No adoptee should be left behind!
Anyone who puts their name on the amended SB 959 should hold their head in shame. Or as a Massachusetts adoptee wrote to Bastardette tonight, "I'm ashamed to say I'm from the Bay State. That is where they should put their heads, in the bay..."
Bastardette has been unable to find who voted how at today's meeting. If she finds out, she'll post it here. In the meantime, let the Joint Committee know how you feel about it's decision to control your identity and to dole out your rights on their whim.
Senator Karen Spilka - Karen.E.Spilka@state.ma.us
Senator Thomas McGee - Thomas.McGee@state.ma.us
Senator Frederick Berry - Frederick.Berry@state.ma.us
Senator Pamela Resor - Pamela.Resor@state.ma.us
Senator Steven Baddour - Steven.Baddour@state.ma.us
Senator Bruce Tarr - Bruce.Tarr@state.ma.us
Representative Shirley Owens-Hicks - Rep.ShirleyOwens-Hicks@Hou.State.MA.US
Stephen LeDuc - Rep.StephenLeDuc@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Anne Paulsen - Rep.AnnePaulsen@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Cory Atkins - Rep.CoryAtkins@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Deborah Blumer - Deborah.Blumer@state.ma.us
Representative Barbara L'Italien - Rep.BarbaraL'Italien@hou.state.ma.us
Representative John Scibak - Rep.JohnScibak@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Patrick Natale - Rep.PatrickNatale@Hou.State.MA.US
Representative Tom Sannicandro - Rep.TomSannicandro@Hou.State.MA.US
Representative John Lepper - Rep.JohnLepper@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Vinny Demacedo - Rep.VinnyDemacedo@hou.state.ma.us
Letter from Rep. Lepper:
For the first time in 10 years we've been able to successfully report the ABC bill out of committee with a passable recommendation. The issue that has always prevented the bill from progressing was privacy rights of the birth mother who may have received a promise that their confidentiality would be protected.
The legislation is a pragmatic compromise to move beyond this objection. The legislation states that the birth records before 1974 will be open along with records after 2008.
The individuals who were adopted after 1974 to the present will be able to access their original birth certificates if their adoption records contain no objection. Adoptees whose records contain an objection will still have to go to court to obtain their birth certificates.
The next challenge will be to have the bill scheduled for debate before the end of the formal session on July 31st. This is a Senate bill so it will have to be debated there first.
JOHN A. LEPPER
Assistant Minority Whip
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
In Massachusetts the Cabots speak only to the Lodges and the Lodges speak only to God. The legislature, however, speaks to no one.
For weeks adoptee rights organizations and individuals have been trying to find out what's happening with SB 959, the no-brainer records bill that was expected to sail through. You know, the one that suddenly fell off the radar. Not surprisingly, leggies have not been available to come to the phone or return calls. Finally, a few days ago we learned that, as expected, the Joint Committee on Children and Families is reportedly set to compromise the rights of Massachusetts adoptees: to give access rights to some, but none to others. The bill is reportedly set for a deal making meeting on May 3 and will be voted out of committee the next day.
We'll keep you informed of what transpires and what you can do. In the meantime, here's the letter Bastardette sent to the committee this afternoon.
I understand that SB 959 is scheduled for discussion and probable vote this week in the Joint Committee on Children and Families. I also understand that an amendment will be offered to make original birth certificate access available retroactively to people adopted prior to 1974 and prospectively to people adopted after the effective date of SB 959. The black holers in the middle would be jack out of luck.
This amendment guts the intent of SB 959: to restore the unrestricted right of birth certificate access to all Massachusetts adoptees, not some. It is a discriminatory amendment-- a slap in the face of every person adopted in Massachusetts. Based solely on their adoptive status and date of birth the amendment abrogates thousands of Massachusetts adoptees natural right of identity and legal right of access to their publicly held birth records--a right enjoyed by the non-adopted.
Moreover, this tiered rights system is open to legal challenge. It creates a class system in which adopted persons are not only segregated and treated different from the non-adopted but treats some adoptees differently than others.
When I came to Beacon Hill at the end of October 2005 to lobby for SB 959, I was told repeatedly by committee members and aides that the bill was a "no-brainer." Nobody could understand why anyone would oppose it. I was told that the bill was "not controversial." I was told that the committee would send the bill out with a "do pass" recommendation within a couple weeks of the hearing. At the hearing at which I testified representing Bastard Nation, the only opposition came from the National Council for Adoption, a well-financed conservative trade lobby in Washington formed specifically to oppose adoptee access to their own birth certificates. The committee virtually booed the NCFA witness out of the room.
Why has this overwhelming support for equality died in the Joint Committee?
What now makes a person adopted in 1976 or 1983 less worthy of equal treatment than a person adopted in 1968 or 2010?
Adoption is supposed to be about the "best interests of the child," but when that child grows up he or she apparently loses "best interest" status. Why is it when adopted persons become adults the mythological "interests" of other parties (adoptive parents, birth parents, and whatever other interest crawls out of the woodwork) takes precedence over our interests and our rights? Adoptees want to be treated like everybody else. When will the government stand up for our rights? When will adoptees count?
Massachusetts has a long history of redressing social wrongs and promoting justice for all. Please don't let Massachusetts falter now. If SB 959 cannot be passed out of committee as written, please do not support an insulting and degrading amendment bill that would benefit some at the expense of the rest.
Do the right thing! Leave no one behind!