I’m a New York adoptee in shock over Illinois’ new “wonderful” law for adoptees

Wow. What a disgrace.

 I’m a New York adoptee in shock over Illinois’ new “wonderful” law for adoptees. This is a travesty.

 The law is bad enough, but the reporting is bad, too. (See below)

When I joined the adoption reform movement in 1974, public opinion and glaring misperceptions about adoptees and our natural parents were plentiful. Time has not healed these wounds. Despite our reform efforts, society still has misconstrued what we are all about, thanks to the not-so-bright reporting and myths that do not die.

 Public officials in Illinois also show a tremendous lack of concern for the public they serve. Granted, I am an outsider from another state, but in adoption reform, as with any other public concern, voices of the people should be heard. I wrote to Sara Feigenholtz and to Illinois Governor Quinn, pointing out the flaws, in what was just a few weeks ago, a bad bill. Instead of treating my letters with respect and professionalism, Sara Feigenholtz and Illinois Governor Quinn did not even respond. By sharp contrast, whenever I have written to my New York Senators or House Representatives or the Governor, my letters were always responded to with quick respectful letters, and sometimes emails, with pointed references to the content of my letters and what the legislator or governor would do to act on the issue of discussion.

When I traveling between Buffalo and Albany a few times, and met with legislators who did not always agree with adoption reformers’ messages, I witnessed both productive and not so productive meetings. Still, there was always professionalism. At the end of even a heated debate, there was professional courtesy.

 I have seen none of that professionalism with Sara Feigenholtz and Illinois Governor Quinn. They do not seem to care. I’ve received nothing; not even a letter letting me know that they don’t agree. But they did read my website.

 Why should they respond when they seem to think they are shinning stars in Illinois?

 Triona did her best to explain her side in the article below, but the reporter gave her minimal coverage. Pam and Ann made terrific comments after this article. I’m sure more will be added as this news spreads.

 I’ve listened to both sides of the debate. I’ve once supported, even recently, conditional legislation because I was not yet firm enough in my own convictions. Growth is a process. Even more so now I beleive that adoption reform MUST be for civil rights for ALL adoptees or not at all. I may lose friends over this and if I do, so be it. I care for my fellow adoptees and see how hard theyall work. And the hard work of mothers (and fathers, but mostly mothers) of adoption loss work hard, too. We all contribute to the larger goal, however small or big our contribution. I hear the pleas of desperatation. I feel the pain of defeat.

 We need more than state by state, incremental legislation. We need a cohesive civil rights fight to achieve the goal of adoptees’ recognition as free citizens to freely ask for and receive our own birth certificates. We need to stop the bull. We need to stop producing falsified birth certificates. We need progressive thought and action.

 I know we’re getting old and dying.

Is this Sophie’s Choice? Save one. Keep one. Trade the other because it is a no-win situation. Is there remorse?

We need real civil rights for adoptees. Once that is achieved, the human trafficking in children may be diminished, perhaps even halted. One group of adults will not be discriminated against in favor of others. We no longer have slavery and women can vote. It wasn’t always that way.

Here’s the complete article and comments as of right now:

 Adoptees cheer birth certificate law

‘Today is no doubt the most meaningful day of my life’

May 22, 2010

 BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter

In a room full of adoptive parents, children and birth parents, Gov. Quinn signed a law Friday designed to let adult adoptive children finally get their birth certificates.

Birth parents who don’t want to be found will have 1½ years to get their names blacked out on their children’s birth certificates. But backers expect four out of five birth parents will opt to let their children find them.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (center), who was adopted, rejoices Friday after Gov. Quinn signed the law that allows adult adoptees in Illinois to get their birth certificates.
(John H. White/Sun-Times)


Torment drove Feigenholtz to find birth mom

The law builds on the state’s 1999 birth registry, which facilitates adopted children finding birth parents who don’t mind being found. But the new law takes it a step further.

 “Today is no doubt the most meaningful day of my life,” said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), who had already tracked down her birth mother.

 Feigenholtz cried as she said, “I will be able to walk into the state’s Office of Vital Records, plunk down my $15, and get a copy of my original birth certificate. On it will be the name of the woman who gave birth to me 53 years ago. To some, it may not sound like a big deal, but it is.”

Feigenholtz and other adoptive children and parents at the signing talked about living life with big question marks, searching faces every time they went into a mall, wondering if they could be walking past their lost child or parent.

“I have a loving wife and two children,” said former NFL fullback Howard Griffith. But despite spending holidays surrounded by his loving adoptive family and his wife and kids, “There was always a time during those holidays where I would say, ‘Who am I?’ You have all these people around, but you don’t know who you are. You don’t know where you come from. I have had the honor to meet my biological family. I was one of the fortunate ones.”

Feigenholtz said the law was modeled after similar laws in Maine and New Hampshire to balance the rights of adoptive children and parents. But some advocacy groups complain that Feigenholtz and other drafters compromised too much.

 “It does not actually open adoption records,” said Triona Guidry, whose birth mother will not let Guidry get a copy of her birth certificate. Even under the new law, the best Guidry will get is a birth certificate with her mother’s name redacted. “Equal rights apply to everyone. Everyone should have the right to go into that courthouse, pay their $15 and get their birth certificate.”

 But stripping away all privacy rights for parents might make them less inclined to give up their children for adoption in the first place, proponents of the bill say.

 “I learned early on what an emotional and tricky area of the law this us,” said state Senate President John Cullerton, who teased Feigenholtz that the reason he signed on to her crusade was that, “She said if I can pass this bill out of the Senate, she’ll vote for any bill I tell her to vote for for the rest of my life. It’s like I have my own vote over in the House. We’re going to start with that next week.”

A few key provisions of the law:

• Effective immediately, children and parents involved in adoptions that took place before 1946 can get birth certificates.

• For later cases, Feigenholtz and other state officials will spend the next 1½ years notifying birth parents and adoptive children that they need to contact the state and declare whether or not they wish to be found. Notices will go out on Illinois’ residents’ vehicle renewal stickers and other state documents. After Nov. 15, 2011, people involved in adoption can request birth certificates, and if the other parties involved have filed no objections, the birth certificates will be turned over.

• If a birth parent says no, an adoptive child can ask again in five years and the state will check to see whether the parent has changed her or his mind.


pamhasegawa wrote:
I’m responding to the language used here, which I find insensitive, diminishing and even perjorative. As an adopted person who’s been alive 67 years, I am distracted by — and resentful at — seeing the word “children” used to describe adult adopted persons throughout this article. Adoptees are the children of our parents, both birth and adoptive. But we would prefer to be called “adopted persons”, “adopted adults”, or “adoptees” rather than adopted “children.” If parents constantly referred to their adult daughter and son as “children,” they might feel some resentment heading their way. And their friends might think the parents hadn’t quite realized the level of their sons’ and daughters’ maturity.
When Rep. Feigenholtz is described as having “tracked down” her birth mother, there is an implication of “hunter and hunted.” Genealogists usually describe their research as “tracing their family roots” rather than “tracking down.”
It would be helpful if reporters who write about adoption reform could consider the implications of language they use in describing adopted adults and their efforts to know who they are and, if they wish, to learn about and perhaps find the parents who gave them life.5/22/2010 9:03 PM CDT on suntimes.com

  ann wilmer wrote:Despite the media hooplah, it is based on a complete misunderstanding of what this bill actually does.#1 This is NOT an open records bill; this is a search and reunion bill.#2 Birth parent vetoes, which prevent an adoptee from obtaining his/her own birth certificate, are mischaracterized as contact preferences. It is what it is — an opportunity to veto adoptees’ rights.#3 Birth parents sign away ALL rights when they place a child for adoption. There never was a right to anonymity. Children in foster care who, for one reason or other are not adopted, go through life with an OBC that names their birth mother at least.Not a single adoption reform group supported this legislation. The reporter neglected to mention that Ms. Guidry, who is quoted, represents Adoption Reform Illinois and the Green Ribbon Campaign for Open Records in Illinois.

But I do thank the reporters for illuminating something that eluded me despite several years association with the sponsor — she does not grasp the difference between equal access and search and reunion. Clearly it was all about finding her birth mother, whereas adoption reform groups are only asking that adopted adults be afforded equal access to their own birth records.

As it stands, this bill only provides access for those adoptees who might reasonably presume their biological parents are dead. For all others, it requires the free (and largely worthless) state registry or paying $400-plus for confidential intermediary services to an organization who owes its livelihood to this bill. Non-refundable payment-in-advance, does not a guarantee obtaining an original birth certificate, it just engages social workers to search for birth parents of an adult adoptee.

I, for one, did not want the state to search for my birth parents. I just wanted access to my identity. Like many adoptees, I had to search to find out anything, and I was successful despite state efforts to keep secrets.

This bill is a bogus waste of state resources and an insult to adult adoptees. I’m almost certain that all the folks trotted out to praise the bill have located their families of origin and are among the minority of adoptees who are more interested in reunion than their own identities.

5/22/2010 1:52 PM CDT on suntimes.com

  ihatepakis wrote:good!5/22/2010 11:40 AM CDT on suntimes.com

  red pill wrote:Nice photo op for Quinn. He still isn’t getting my vote, though. Any good “Green” candidates out there? This could be your year!5/22/2010 11:11 AM CDT on suntimes.com

  mixed opinion wrote:I am very happy about this but also a little disappointed. It should be every childs right to know who their blood parents are. This is a very serious thing when talking about potential medical issues. Their is always a choice about developing a relationship, but their isn’t a choice about inheriting potential chronic medical conditions. Kids should know where they came from. Like I said, a relationship is always a choice of both parties.5/22/2010 9:33 AM CDT on suntimes.com