Washington Battleground: The Annual Murder of Adoptee Rights Continues

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For more than 20 years the State of Washington has been a battle ground for adoptee rights. Some years good bills go bad or bad bills go good; (for awhile); other years bad bills go badder. Even baddest bills are kneecapped by adopteephobic legislators and bureaucrats quivering at the softest echos of baby steps toddling down the halls of government.

This year has been no different.  Two near-companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate.  The Senate bill (SB5118) was originally restrictive,  re-written clean, then re-written back restricted.  The House bill, (HB 1525),  remained restrictive throughout its campaign.  On.Monday, the Senate Judiciary voted out the House bill.  The whole process has become quite confusing, but as of today (April 3, the language of both bills is being matched Whichever bill eventually is enacted (if) Washington bastards will be saddled with more restrictions on  their OBCs.  Promoters, of course  will circle jerk themselves as “progressive” politicians  and “activists”  for allegedly “balancing the interests” of adoptees and birthparents and extending privilege to a few lucky ducks.while the state continues its headlock on OBCs.

Unlike some states where the hammer is pounded by conservative anti-abortion groups and the Catholic Bishops, opposition to OBC access in Washington centers around individual legislators (for various reasons related to their personal adoption experience) and the perennial wolf is sheep’s clothing “progressives,” ACLU-Washington, misreading and arguing “privacy rights of biological parents, where no such “rights” exist.

Bastard Nation has obtained an email  from ACLU-WA director Shankar Narayan  sent to HB1525  sponsor Tina Orwall  who forwarded it to members of the House Judiciary Committee,  stating its support of  restrictive  SB5518  and expressing the concern that a “broadening” of the bill, as was attempted in the Senate a few weeks ago, would abrogate  the “privacy interests”  of birthparents; thus forcing the organization to oppose the bill, which of course, they  “don’t want to do.”

In other words, shut up.

Thus, the  annual Class Bastard death warrant was signed.

Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 11:47 AM
To: Pedersen, Rep. Jamie; Hansen, Rep. Drew; Rodne, Rep. Jay; O’Ban, Rep. Steve; Goodman, Rep. Roger; Hope, Rep. Mike; Jinkins, Rep. Laurie; Kirby, Rep. Steve; Klippert, Rep. Brad; Nealey, Rep. Terry; Orwall, Rep. Tina; Roberts, Rep. Mary Helen; Shea, Rep. Matt 
Cc: Adams, Edie; Clynch, Cece; Harrington, Omeara; Shankar Narayan
Subject: Note on SB 5118 (Access to Birth Certificates)

Chair Pedersen and Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

I wanted to offer a comment on SB 5118 (access to birth certificates), heard this morning in Judiciary. The ACLU-WA’s interest in this bill is in ensuring that the birth parent’s privacy interest is protected—in other words, their ability to opt out of disclosure of birth certificates is preserved. We also understand the need to strike a balance in allowing adoptees access to those birth certificates for medical and other reasons.

The bill before you has undergone a number of changes as it has come to you, but the bottom line is that the current bill strikes an appropriate balance between privacy and the interests of adoptees—we therefore support it. It creates a uniform rule that allows birth parents to opt out if they provide medical history, which serves the interests of all parties.

However, there have been efforts to broaden the bill—one version in the Senate would have opened up all birth certificates to adoptees (both pre- and post-1993) and eliminated the birth parent opt-out in all cases, including for birth parents who have already opted out. I would like to warn against broadening the bill in that manner—doing so would once again fail to protect birth parents’ privacy interests, and we would be forced to oppose (which we don’t want to do). Thanks for considering these thoughts.

Best,
Shankar.

This is simply a nicer kinder rendition of what went down in 1998 when another set of restoration bills (SB6496/HB2810) was buzzing around the statehouse. At that time Bastard Nation and Washington Open ’98 had a heated public and private debate with Doug Klunder, from ACLU-WA’s Privacy Project (which doesn’t seem to exist any more) and ACLU-W staff attorney Jerry Shaheen both of who proved abysmally ignorant of adoption practice, law, and case law and surprisingly arrogant in their pride of ignorance..

Klunder and Shaheen inadvertently, in their arguments, admitted they had no legal leg to stand on. They  fed the incurious legislature half-truths about records access and (at that time) the gold standard court ruling Doe v Sundquist, citing the lawsuit, but neglecting to mention that OBC access, albeit restricted, prevailed.  They argued that birthparents may not have a legal right to confidentiality, but they have a “natural right” to expect and demand that OBCs be withheld from adoptees.  Moreover Klunder and Sheehan, desperate to shut us down,  made the bizarre  accusation (for the ACLU) that OBC  access would increase abortions.  They admitted to Washington Open ’98 in a private discussion, however,  that they  had no proof.  Of course they didn’t because OBC access does no such thing.

The debate reached its low point, or high point depending on how you look at things, when Klunder, in a private email to Bastard Nation co-founder, executive committee member  and legal adviser Shea Grimm,   said  that the ACLU-WA not only opposed OBC access, but would support legislation in the state that would seal all birth certificates, not just those of adoptees.  Klunder opined  that after the age of 18 nobody needs one.

While  Klunder and Sheehan were busy making talking asses of themselves I ran into Nadine Strossen, then the president of the National ACLU, at reception at Ohio State where she had given a talk on constitutional law.  We had only a moment to speak, but I told her about the Washington situation.  She was as dumbfounded as I.. “Natural right?” she hooted..

On February 23, 1998, after I was unable to get through by phone,  I wrote to Matthew Briggs at ACLU National for clarification on its policy of OBC access and threw in a few demands:

  1. An investigation into the activities of Doug Klunder and Jerry Sheehan regarding the dissemination of incomplete and/or false information to the Washington State Legislature.
  2. Acknowledgment from the ACLU that Doe v Sundquist clearly states that adopted adults have the right to their original birth certificates;
  3. A withdrawal of unsubstantiated and unprovable allegations that open adoption records cause abortion;
  4. A copy of the national ACLU policy statement on the right of adopted persons to their original birth certificates, and if no such policy exists, an explanation of why it does not exist ;
  5. The name of an ACLU staff member in the national office with whom we can contact regarding open adoption records.
  6. A copy of the national ACLU regulations, and/or patterns of administration, and/or guidelines, etc. for local and state chapters in regard to interpretation of policy or creation of policy on a case-by-case basiis.

 Not surprisingly, I didn’t receive a reply, even the courtesy acknowledgement one would expect from one civil rights organization to another. I did learn from other sources that the ACLU, like many organizations, lets their individual state or local organizations make their own policy on many issues so ACLU-WA was flying around the Washington statehouse untethered.. In fact, two small ACLU chapters, one in Florida and the other in Michigan had, several years earlier passed resolutions supporting OBC access.  ACLU has since reorganized and  these chapters no longer exist so their resolutions, outside of historical curiosity,  are moot. to today’s argument.

My  letter  to ACLU National  is archived on the Bastard Nation ACLU page along  with letters written by Washington State Open ’98 and Helen Hill,chief petitioner for Oregon’s Ballot Measure 58. Unfortunately some of the wilder correspondence wasn’t..  I have it on disk, but my floppy disk reader has stopped working.  If I can get the disk read, I’ll add other documents to the ACLU.page.

******
As I was writing this Monday night  I learned that the Washington Senate Judiciary, despite strong and loud  opposition from  individuals and adoptee rights and adoption reform organizations, both state and national,  earlier in the day passed the bill out of committee.  ( The language of the House and Senate bills are now being matched).  The bill, not only maintains the current Disclosure Veto language, but makes DVs permanent .instead of renewable every few years as currently practiced.. Last month, a witness from the Washington State Department of Health testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and later confirmed with BN’s Lori Jeske via email, that since 1993 only four (4) Affidavits of Disclosure had been filed–and all of them last year, which makes no sense except in the context of an engineered attempt by special interests  to derail unrestricted access.  Clearly  Washington State relinquishing parents are not interested in hiding from their offspring, even if politicians want them to. Law by speculation. Protection by speculation.

This year’s debacle has been brought to you by Washington State Representative Tina Orwall, an adoptee whose strings area being yanked by Senator.Ann Rivers, an out birthmother on a mission to keep other mothers in the closet that she somehow crawled out of.

Jane Edwards

  [Birth Mother]First Mother blogger Jane Edwards has had her boots on the ground in Washington and has posted two blogs on Orwall and Rivers. In both she fingers Rivers as the main culprit, but cuts  Benedict Bastard Orwall no slack in this sickening deal to pit Class Bastard against birthparents and create animosity where none exists except in the minds of politicians..

From Adoptee legislator supports birth-parent veto in Washington

So who’s driving this birth-mother veto nonsense.  None other than a birth mother Sen. Ann Rivers, who blocked a birth-certificate access bill last year when she was in the state House. While she’s out of the closet, she apparently feels compelled to encourage other mothers to lock themselves in. Sen. Rivers is setting up Washington-born adoptees for double rejection, once when their mother left them in the care of biological strangers, and once when she files a veto to deny her child access to his original birth certificate. What’s behind all this madness? Only Sen. Rivers can answer this. And why is adoptee Orwall selling out, not only allowing but actively participating, in this effort to heap more abuse on a group already marginalized, and of which she is a member?

Tina Orwall

From: OBC-access bill with “birth mother” veto may become law published two days later (read the whole thing for context):

Rep. Orwall’s reasons for accepting a compromised bill are just excuses. The truth, as she acknowledges in her last sentence, is that “it only takes one legislator to kill a bill.” The bill killer is Sen. Ann Rivers, a birth mother, who came to the hearing to tell the Committee that she and Rep. Orwall had reached an agreement on the bill. WA-CARE was assured initially by one of the sponsors of SB 5118 that he had the votes to pass a clean bill. Then Sen. Ann Rivers intervened, and the sponsor agreed to an amendment which included a non-expiring birth mother veto. I called Sen. Rivers’ office and asked if she would give me the reason for insisting on a birth-mother veto. She declined to comment.

Some observers are surprised at Orwall’s quick acquiescence to Mistress  River’s whip snapping,  but I’m not.. I never believed Orwall was as behind unrestircted as she appeared to be. Did she ever actually say she supported full access other than in theory? Just over a year ago I wrote about the peculiar  Orwall-Rivers alliance in  Are adoptees a runny infection?, which I urge you to read in full.  Here is a portion:

Ann Rivers

One would think that this statistic [no DVs] would be the keystone of  any records access argument in Washington.  Incredibly, I’ve  not seen it mentioned anywhere outside of  Wa-Care’s obscure webpage.  Apparently Orwall,  either hasn’t been informed of this statistic (which I doubt), or suffers from Stockholm Syndrome and has no grasp of  adoptee civil rights or the politics of adoption.  Paraphrasing Orwall, Alexis Krell  writing in the Seattle Times says that that the representative sought  the veto compromise  as a “balance between preserving privacy and allowing adoptees to gain important records and medical information.”

Rep. Ann Rivers (R-LaCenter) a member of the House Judiciary Committee, outed herself as a teenage birthmother during last month’s HB 2011 hearing. Tearfully making herself a spokesperson for women she doesn’t know but she imagines cower in secret closets throughout the state, Rivers demanded more protection for them and their “privacy.”  Alluding to the 2-year veto renewal,  she couldn’t “imagine ripping the wound open every two years,” as if adoptees are an unpleasant runny infection that needs covered up by an ugly scab in the Washington Revised Code.

Rivers and Orwall amending (2012)

Orwall  (who by this time was reportedly also crying, ) and Rivers put their heads together and came up with two amendments that created a two-tiered veto system binding adoptees (depending on their date of adoption) to 5 and 10 year vetoes.

I doubt if tears were shed this year by our two Cloud Cuckoos. Rivers and Orwall are just the latest iteration of the Klunder & Sheehan Show shilling their “balance” of rights ” malarkey to people who don’t ‘want it.  Statist to the core, they confuse state-granted privilege and favors for rights.  and believe the government not the individual should determine personal  relationships and what legal documents or not, Class Bastard has a right to own.

Tomorrow I”ll post information on how you can help us kill this monstrosity and send class traitors Rivers and Orwall packing. 

Read Bastard Nation testimony in opposition to HB2515, March 21, 2013
WATCH Lori Jeske, BN ExeCommittee member  speak up for and testify against HB2515 before the Washington State Social Services and Corrections Committee, March 21, 2013
Read Bastard Nation testimony in opposition to SB5118, March 26, 2013

Addenda (April 3) :  The entire legislative procedure regarding these bills is the most confusing I’ve seen in years.  I have re-written the current status as I understand it.  Whatever is going on, the bill is currently in House Rules.

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