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



My Response to Sara Feigenholtz: No Thanks for the Insult

Sara Feigenholtz spouted off to an adoption reformer on Monday. Bastardette wrote a post displaying the email and commentary yesterday; see it here.

After reading Ms. Feigenholtz’s email, I decided to give Sara an education by writing her a real letter:


April 27, 2010

Sara Feigenholtz, Illinois State Representative

1051 W. Belmont

Chicago, Illinois 60657



Dear Sara Feigenholtz:

Sara, you, or a staff member using your email address, wrote the following email to an adoption reformer; shame on you. Very unprofessional, indeed:

To:Lori Jeske

Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 10:00 PM

Subject: Re: HB 5428


Thank you so much for your kind remarks about HB 5428.

We will pay for your travel and housing expenses if you will come here and start working on a new bill that completes the effort so that all adoptees get their obc. Are you ready to move to Illinois and sacrifice your life to work for adoption reform for the next fifteen years in the frigid winter tundra of Illinois?

Would you consider giving Representative Feigenholtz the key to your (delusional) Eutopian world where all ungrateful bastards think it’s easy to pass a bill that makes everyone happy AND CAN ACTUALLY PASS ? Pass a law? what a concept !!

Many Illinois born 65+ year old adoptees will get their birth certificates BEFORE THEY DIE— very soon.

We will tell them that you would prefer to throw good under the bus while waiting for perfect and that you think they should wait a little longer.

Good luck in Washington state with your efforts. We can hear the unsealing now…….


YOu sound so positive and committed to opening all records that I wish you could give me the key to your adoption.


Sara, I demand a written apology from you. I am an adoptee, but I am not a bastard.

Sara, I hereby take you up on your offer for a job. I live in the frozen tundra of Buffalo, New York, so moving to Illinois will not be that much of hardship for me. I am a disabled social worker, (SSI not SSDI) disabled by 54 years of stress caused by adoption and ignorance. You will have to provide me with accommodations to my disabilities (which I will not discuss with you until I have the job you offer).

I have sacrificed my life by working on adoption reform and personal recovery from adoption trauma since I was 18 years old. I have been fighting prejudice against all adoptees and our natural parents since 1974. I have been victimized by adoption for all of my life.

I will be happy to work with you to devise a clean bill that will not give compromises: you either have full civil rights, or you don’t. Adoption reform legislation should give all adoptees what they deserve: unconditional access to certified copies of their true and sealed birth certificates. No person is under parental authority after the age of majority, and so it should be in adoption reform.

In fact, I have already done the work for the Federal level. See: Chapter 41, Proposal for Federal Legislation on Adoptees’ Birth Records, in my enclosed book, Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing (http://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000137652). See also: Chapter 37, Presenting My Personal Documents as Evidence of State Fraud. See also: Chapter 38, Unequal Treatment of 1 Half Orphan Out of 36 Resulted in a Traumatic Life Outcome — A Social Work Assessment (of my adoption). Yes: three out of four families (my adoptive mother’s family, my adoptive father’s family and my natural mother’s family) all conspired to keep me away from my siblings and my father. These are the keys to my adoption, as you snidely asked Lori Jeske to provide to you about her adoption. I know you mean legislative and legal keys, but without understanding the family dynamics, you won’t have a clear picture of the destruction caused by adoption. Once you see how the interwoven family dynamics worked within, and because of, the framework of legal adoption, you then have a better picture of what to do to dismantle the beast of adoption and free its victims.

So you think all adoptees are ungrateful bastards, do you? Well, I am not a bastard, but I AM an ungrateful half orphan, dear Queen Sara. How dare you insult me and my fellow adoptees!

Adoptees come in all flavors: adopted by step parents — meaning that they were conceived within a marriage; children of married parents are lost to adoption for a variety of reasons; and many of us were born legitimately but lost one of both parents by death — we are either half or full orphans. All of us in these sub-categories of adoptees are technically NOT illegitimate bastards, but we are all funneled together with bastards under the sealed records laws of adoption. By law, I am treated like a bastard because New York State seized my birth certificate as if I were a criminal, then issued a falsified birth certificate that indicates I was born to woman who factually did not give birth to me.

Meanwhile, illegitimate bastards are conceived everyday and live with their parents in their common-law marriages, and these bastards are never “legitimized” by adoption, nor are they ever given a “new” birth certificate, nor is their birth certificate ever sealed. Not one single legislator has ever given me an explanation for the direct discrimination against all adoptees. In a society that glorifies: single women (lesbians or straight women) with money who can pay for fertility treatments using anonymous sperm; or gay men who use the services of a rental womb of a surrogate mother and then use anonymous eggs to create children; or married people who trick their children into believing that they were conceived within a marriage when, in reality, a mother accepts anonymous sperm and pretends that her husband is the father and that child’s birth certificate does not reflect the truth — NONE of these DC (Donor Conceived) individuals are considered illegitimate bastards, nor are they treated as such in society or by laws that seal and then falsify their birth certificates.

I deeply resent being swept up in the dirt bag and persecuted because I am a half orphaned adoptee. My mother DIED when I was three months old. I was the youngest of five children born to married parents. My father relinquished me and kept the others. And I am expected to be grateful for being raised for 18 years in the same city as my siblings, yet being forced to live a life in protected custody apart from them. Disgusting. This was not only identity theft, but child abuse of me, and the siblings from which I was separated.

At age 54, I am still legally banned from obtaining my own birth certificate, yet my full blood siblings (who also lost their mother and who are also half orphans) can get their birth certificates. We have the same parents. The only difference is that I was surrendered to a closed and sealed adoption.

Adoption is destruction of personhood and family. It should be abolished. And don’t give me any crap such as “what about the children who need homes?” I did not need a new home, my adopting parents wanted a child; it was their insistence that I never see my own full blood siblings. I needed my birth identity and my siblings and my father. I needed to be told when and how my mother died. I needed to be taken to her graveside on Mother’s Day and her birthday and my birthday. I needed the truth. If a child is truly homeless and family-less, then guardianship needs to replace adoption. Guardianship retains the child’s identity and birth certificate, retains family connections and identity formation while providing a home for that child. That’s why I wrote my book as a testimony as to the destructiveness of adoption.

I needed then, as I do now, unconditional access to my sealed and certified real birth certificate. I also need my amended birth certificate stamped in big red letters: VOID. I demand a truthful Certificate of Adoption issued to replace this lousy piece of garbage that I must hold up as my real birth certificate.

The Bill you propose, should I live in Illinois, would not benefit me in any way.

I have worked in adoption reform for the past 36 years. Give me a job, Sara, and I’ll show you how to write a Bill that will take care of adoptees’ long-overdue and long-abused civil rights. Adoptive parents and natural parents do not have the authority over anyone over the Age of Majority. In most states the Age of Majority is 18, some states it is 19, and some states it is 21. If young adults are allowed to die for their country in war, they can certainly have the maturity to handle the emotional impact of their civil rights to the truth of their births. And for those of adoptees who are aging, get the job done right: include us all in clean legislative action. Obviously, I do not buy the notion that this is a State-by-State issue. Civil rights are a Federal concern.

Your website says that you are an “adult adoptee”. Really? You sure holler as a two-faced bigot. Stop being so patronizing.

 I hereby submit my bill for adoption consultant fees of $500 an hour for 2 hours, $45 for the cost of my book, and $20 for shipping and handling to mail the book and legislative tips to you.

Very Truly Yours,

 Joan M Wheeler

born as

Doris M Sippel



I do mean TRULY. I know my birthname and I have my birth certificates because my father gave them to my adopting parents, but I am still legally banned from obtaining my short and long form OBC from the Registrar of Vital Statistics in Buffalo. America is not a free country.

 * * *

Other bloggers on Sara Feigenholtz’s email:

Cheaper Than Therapy: http://lilwalnutbrain.blogspot.com/2010/04/asshat-of-week-illinois-rep-sara.html

Baby Love Child: http://www.babylovechild.org/2010/04/27/illinois-hb5428-and-rep-sara-feigenholtzs-offices-contemptuous-use-of-the-term-ungrateful-bastards/

73adoptee: http://73adoptee.blogspot.com/2010/04/so-called-champion-of-adoptees-illinois.html

Bastard Grannie Annie: http://bastardgrannyannie.blogspot.com/2010/04/another-open-letter-to-representative.html

The Daily Bastardette: http://bastardette.blogspot.com/2010/04/sara-speaks-sara-feigenholtz-tells-us.html



~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.

Re-Post From Basdardette: WHAT IF? Illinois HB 5428 and Woman Suffrage

This needs to be shared:

WHAT IF? Illinois HB 5428 and Woman Suffrage

Friday, April 23, 2010

You can listen to the HB 5428 Senate floor debate at the link at the bottom of this blog. The debate is about 33 minutes long.

What I find interesting is that many of the senators theoretically “got” the idea of our “rights”–but failed to grasp that the bill, with its multi-layered “consents,” forms “information exchanges” and liabilities obviated those rights, kept the state in control, and gave adoptees and their families nothing but a big messy pile of obtuse rigmarole that can only be sussed out with a pitchfork.

On June 10, 1919, Illinois ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. What if Illinois leggies that day declared:

All women have the “basic right” to vote. However, we are concerned about the affect female voters will have on male reputation and status in the community. We need to protect the rights of those husbands who believe that the marriage contract promised them that their wives would never be allowed to vote.
To balance the right of women to vote with the right of husbands to protect their reputations and status, we are mandating a mutual consent voter registration law, which authorizes husbands to dictate what level of franchise their wives can practice: full, limited and/or’s (school board, municipal, state, national, initiative, referendum, tax) and, of course…none at all.


Actually, that scheme would have made suffrage reactionaries quite happy as the passage of HB 5428 has made our current crop of bastardphobic reactionaires and adoptahacks happy.


Posted by BD at 11:28 AM