February 13, 2011

Briefly Standing On My Soapbox

I usually try to be vague about where we live, for the sake of my family's privacy. But I'm making an exception today for a political issue (gasp! politics!) that's very dear to me as an adoptive parent.

It's not exactly a secret that we live in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up here and returned a few years ago with a spouse and child in tow after a long stint out-of-state. Marian, in fact, is our family's sole native Northwesterner, having been born in Oregon.

When Mari grows up she'll be able to request and receive a copy of her original birth certificate, no strings attached, just like everyone else born in Oregon. (Her original certificate being the one issued prior to her adoption, the one that names Beth as the mother who gave birth to her on that warm February day.) She has that right because of the work done over a decade ago by supporters of Ballot Measure 58, a voter initiative that restored Oregon-born adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificates.

A new bill introduced by Speaker of the House Dave Hunt--HB 2843--threatens to effectively repeal Measure 58. It would require birth parents to submit a consent form to the state before adoptees could have a copy of their birth certificate. I don't know about you, but I don't need my parents' permission to get my birth certificate.

Simply put, I care about open records because I believe that restricting Eddie and Mari's access to their birth certificates is a violation of their civil rights. As an adoptive parent and a supporter of openness in adoption, I also care about open records because I believe that locking pre-adoption birth certificates away perpetuates the myth that there is something shameful about adoption--that having been adopted, having placed a child for adoption or being a family formed by adoption is something that needs to be kept hidden. Closed records keep those stigmas alive. (The way we amend birth certificates is a whole 'nother issue, but let's stay focused, shall we?)

If you live in Oregon or have a direct connection to adoption in Oregon and don't want to see Measure 58 repealed, please courteously and positively write (rep.davehunt@state.or.us) or call (503-986-1900) Rep. Hunt and state your support for Measure 58 as it stands. Measure 58 is working. It has been recognized as model legislation. Ten thousand Oregon-born adoptees have requested their pre-adoption birth certificates since the law took effect. Ten thousand! Oregonians should be proud of Measure 58, not trying to dismantle it.

For more information, follow the new Oregon Adoptee Rights blog and sign up to receive updates. You can also follow them on Facebook.

ETA: Great news! Representative Hunt's office dropped the bill on Monday after listening to advocates who brought information into his office last week and doing more research into the issue and the potential ramifications of the bill. (It was presented originally at the request of a constituent.)


Elly said...

I'm curious about why; do you happen to know? I flicked through the wording of the bill and it's interesting to see that they conflate adoptees' rights to their own true birth certificate with birthmoms' presumed right to anonymity.

katjamichelle said...

My heart broke when I saw your tweet a few days ago. When talking to Washington legislators I constantly point to Oregon's law and am hopeful that I will be able to continue to do so.

Luckily after Measure 58 passed it was challenged in court and it has already been found that (birth) parents do NOT have any right to privacy/anonymity/whatever you want to call it from their child (in OR).

From what I've read this bill is the result of one citizen, so if every Oregonian who supports the rights of adult adoptees writes their legislator that should speak volumes.

KatjaMichelle said...

So glad to read that the bill is dead!

Anonymous said...

So glad they dropped it. I'm all for openness in adoption too.

Elly said...

Wow, that's great (and quick!)

It is what it is said...

So glad it was dropped and that OR adopted children's rights have been protected.

As an adult adoptee in a closed adoption in CA, I haven't been able to get anything beyond some non-identifying information (which I was grateful to finally get). My husband, also adopted (NJ) has less info than I do.

I actually haven't done any checking on my own records since the 1990s. I wonder if anything has changed here in CA.

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