BASTARD NATION ACTION ALERT
November 7, 2017
Florida adoptees need your help today!
Please contact the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee Today
Do not pass HB SB576/HB357
Senator Dennis Baxley recently introduced SB 576 in the Florida Senate. House Companion HB357 was introduced by Richard Stark earlier. Last week SB 576 was referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee The House bill is currently in the House Health Quality Subcommittee but as of this writing no hearings are scheduled.
SB576/HB357 is promoted as an “adoptee rights” bill—one that will restore the right of OBC access to Florida adoptees. Do not be fooled! The confusing and ambiguous bill discriminates against all Florida adoptees by maintaining the status quo for some and placing undue and unreasonable restrictions on others.
(1) Pre-July 1, 1977s adoptions: Currently, in theory, Florida adoptees whose adoptions were finalized before June 30, 1977 have unrestricted access to their OBC, a right they have held for decades. No specific legislation, however, was enacted to authorize that release. As a result, due to misunderstanding and misapplication of law, some pre-1977s adoptees receive their OBCs, but many others are routinely denied access. In some cases, the Department of Health has refused to comply, even if with lawfully issued court order has been issued, and adoptees have been forced to sue the state for what is rightfully theirs. SB576/HB357 does not cover these circumstances. It appears, in fact, that under SB576/HB357 pre-1977 OBCs would remain held hostage to current ambiguous and confusing Florida release practice and the whim of bureaucrats. They would receive no relief. That is, it is likely that the current pre-1977 system and its misuse, will remain in place.
(2) July 1, 1977- June 30, 2018 adoptions: OBCs would be released to adoptees 40 years after adoption finalization. An OBC can be released earlier if the birthparent(s) listed on it is deceased or can reasonably be presumed to be deceased; an adoptee provides written evidence of knowledge of the birthparent(s) name that appears on the OBC; the adoptee receives a court order for release. Although the bill does not include a Disclosure Veto or similar restrictions, it does prescribe “contact preference” and medical history forms for birthparents to submit to the state voluntarily. We expect that if the legislative process moves forward that restrictions such as Disclosure Vetoes, or white-outs will be added to the bill making it even more restrictive and anti-equality.
(3) July 1, 2018-beyond adoptions: OBCs would be released to adoptees upon request, with no restriction, at the age of 18.
Adoptee rights/equality and adoption reform organizations overwhelmingly oppose SB576.HB357. On October 30, 2017 these organizations, including Bastard Nation, the Adoptee Rights Law Center, the American Adoption Congress. the Donaldson Adoption Institute and numerous international and state organizations released a joint letter addressed to Sen, Rep,. Stark axley and co-sponsors in both houses requesting that the bill be withdrawn and that a genuine adoptee rights bill replace it. The letter was also sent to the House Quality Health Subcommittee asking members to oppose the bill.
We ask you today to join us in calling for HB357/SB576 to be withdrawn or killed before it gets out of the gate.
Links to help you lobby to oppose HB/SB576/HB357
Joint Letter to House Health Quality Subcommittee and Bill Sponsors, October 30, 2017
What’s at Stake: Florida, Greg Luce, Adoptee Rights Law Blog, September 28, 2017
What’s at Stake: Florida? The History of Florida OBC Access (expanded report), Greg Luce, Adoptee Rights Blog, October 6, 2017
When Something is Nothing and Nothing is Something, Greg Luce, Adoptees Rights Blog, October 24, 2017
If you haven’t written to the House Health Quality Committee yet. here is the link to that BN Action Alert with contact information.
- retains ambiguous, misunderstood, and misapplied standards to pre-1977 adoptees, is not an adoptee equality bill, and contains unreasonable and burdensome restrictions on Florida adoptees to access their OBCs
- creates an unfair and discriminatory system where some adoptees will be forced to wait for 40 years to receive their OBCs. Some will not receive their OBCs until 2058 when they are in their mid-50s. Others will receive theirs at the age of 18.
- contains language that creates an opening for even more discriminatory legislation either by amendment of this bill or later legislation
- leaves the state open to litigation
Below is a template for letters. We suggest, however, that you personalize your letters.
I am writing today to call on Senator Dennis Baxey to withdraw HB SB576/HB357 and for members of the Health Polucy Committee to oppose the bill.
SB576/HB357 is not an adoptee rights bill. It will not restore to all Florida adoptees’ their right to obtain their original birth certificates at age of majority. Instead, it creates a confusing and random tiered system of access that essentially imposes a 40 year waiting period on adoptees in the middle tier, while leaving unchanged the current practice of routinely denying access to OBCs to most adoptees whose adoptions were finalized before July 1, 1977. While it recognizes what is already law; and should be the practice in Florida with respect to those pre-July 1977 adoptees, it does so without any real clarity, enforcement or even any specific access provision or guidelines. It gives those adopted as of July 2018 and beyond unrestricted access to their original birth certificates at age 18. Those, however, who have the misfortune of falling in the middle tier either have to wait 40 years after their adoption, know the name of a birthparent or know that their birthparent is deceased or is “presumed to be deceased”–which is so vague that it will have to be litigated or regulated by rule.
Best practice standards of adoption demand openness and transparency, which includes the right of adult adoptees to have unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates without restriction or government interference. Please join adoptees in making that happen. Please oppose HBSB576/HB357.
In case of bounces, go directly to Senator’s personal page and click on direct link or template.
Dennis L. Baxley
Legislative Assistant: Debbie Dennis
Legislative Assistant: David Winialski
Legislative Assistant: Matthew Alford
Senate Health Policy Committee
Location: 530 Knott Building
Mailing Address: 404 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida
214 House Office Building, 402 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1100. Phone: (850) 487-5824
Committee Administrative Assistant
Members (Only Tallahassee offices are listed below. Go to individual Senator’s page for contact information on District and Satellite office information)
Dana D. Young (Chair)
Legislative Assistant: Brian McManus
Kathleen Passidomo (Vice Chair)
Legislative Assistant: Jared Willis
Legislative Assistants: Matthew Hunter and Timothy Morris
Legislative Assistant: Laura McLeod
Legislative Assistant: John Kotyk
FAX (850) 487-5086
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@DanaYoungFL Vote NO on SB576/HB357. Florida adoptees deserve equality not discrimination #AdopteeRights
@LindaStewartFL Florida adoptees deserve equality not discrimination #AdopteeRights
Bastard Nation Phone 614-641-0294