Note: A similar letter has been sent to the New York Senate.
As the Chair of Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization, the largest adoptee civil rights organization in North America, I am writing today to urge you to vote DO NOT PASS on A2901A-2015.
This bill should not be confused with its predecessor A2901, which was a clean bill that restored the right of all adopted adults born in the State of New York to access, without restriction and redaction, their own original birth certificates (OBC). This new amended version strips the original bill and adoptees of that right of access, replacing it with a highly bureaucratized system of court orders, permission slips, and fiscal irresponsibility that infantilizes and restricts the rights of New York’s adopted adults. The bill increases an already in-place pattern of government-perpetrated abuse of due process and unequal treatment of adopted adults, cementing an even broader and higher wall separating our legal status from that of the not adopted.
- A2901A mandates the release of redacted OBCs; that is, the state, on the “authorization” of a third party (a birthparent) would be allowed to mutilate the state-generated OBC by blacking out identifying information regarding the adoptee such as an original name and the name of one or both parents. It egregiously allows a birthparent who does not want to be identified to override the wishes of the birthparent who gives consent to the release of the full and accurate OBC by ordering the state remove all identifying information on the document that pertains to the “anonymous” parent. Does anyone expect a known parent to clam up and refuse to tell the adoptee the name of the “unknown” parent?
- A2901A mandates that all OBCs be released via court order, a tremendous waste of time, paper, and money. In the seven states that recognize the right of their adopted population to their own OBCs, the adoptee only fills out a simple notarized form, sends in a nominal fee, and receives their OBC by return mail without clogging up the courts with useless regulations and paperwork.
- 2901A mandates that birthparents be contacted if an adoptee files an OBC request. How does a government agent, tracking down a parent (usually a woman) who has broken no law protect her privacy or the privacy of the adoption process? Do A2901’s advocates even realize the cost of such a mandate? Apparently not since no fiscal note is attached to this bill. Again, a colossal waste of time, paper, and money—and a huge infringement of state power on the individual. The state is neither in the business of mediating relationships or hiding family secrets. Why should adoption and adoptees by the exception?
- A2901A mandates that judges take the “wishes of the adoptive parents” into consideration when mulling over a court-ordered OBC release. Why in the world would their wishes play into the right of an adult adoptee to their own OBC–a government-held record public record about their own birth? I can’t think of any other instance where any adult—outside of disability issues– is subject parental approval for anything. Are New York’s adopted adults so disabled (or unhinged) that they cannot be allowed to make their own decisions?
Unaccountably, while other states are restoring the unrestricted right to OBCs, it appears that the State of New York is bent on denying its adoptees any type of civil rights and recognition. A2901A sends the message that adoptees are dangerous and need to be monitored by the government.
I have been lobbying for adoptee rights for nearly 20 years, and I can honestly say that I have never seen such an ugly, reactionary, and dangerous bill flying under the banner of “adoptee rights.” New York adoptees are better off under the current hideous law than under A2901A’s Draconian assault that turns them into the chattel of birthparents, adoptive parents, and courts.
New York’s adoptees deserve better than this. They deserve a return to full and equal protection under law. Please vote DO NOT PASS on 2901A
Marley E Greiner
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization
Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification