So, the 2009 Adoptee Rights Demonstration was fabulous, we came, we marched, we talked with leggies, renewed old friendships and made new ones. Our group was not huge by Philadelphia standards. We left the park with around seventy persons but swelled to about a hundred by the time we reached the convention center. I met a few of the latecomers later that day. They said parking was hard to come by and they had to join up enroute.
Our little group was noticed! Rather than presenting the orderly army of cookie-cutter soldiers carrying look-alike black and white signs that Philadelphians are so used to seeing, we were a colorful cross-section of humanity representing all those hurt by sealed birth certificates. I heard several people remark that we didn't look like the typical protesters and lots of questions were asked. I am particularly thankful here for the many first mothers who joined us, for their voice is the strongest in dispelling the myth of confidentiality.
I didn't talk to any participant who said they were disappointed in any way with the demonstration. If the truth be told, I am a little disappointed we didn't have two hundred participants, or five hundred - we adoptees and first parents do number in the millions you know. But everything starts small, we DID grow from last year, we learned, we have more to learn. Everything can always be improved.
Surfing for feedback from outside the demonstration participants, I ran accross this amusing little piece where a supposed adoptee activist took the day off work (if she works, doubtful judging from her attitude and the amount of time she obviously spends at the computer) to drive from Maryland and spy on us. Not participate like all the other activists, but spy. With false information and carefully chosen pictures, she spins a thousand-word bash of the organizers and participants in a fashion I haven't seen since my sisters were pre-teens. Normally I simply pass this kind of tripe by without comment but the level of seething hatred (or, more likely, jealosy) festering just below the surface here is truly amazing. I have to admit, I'm glad she didn't join in, she would have been truly out of her place. Every demonstrator I talked with was a kind and loving person, not at all like this troll.
Activist? Hah. Bullshit. The only acitivism I see is a desperate effort to villify dozens of adopted citizens, first mothers, and their supporters in their efforts to make their views known. I'm not sure who she directed this post at. Both "fustrated readers" who "urged" her to post this apparently did not attend and are inept at obtaining the facts on their own. The facts are not hard to find. Look here, and here for local newspaper coverage, here for some pics, and Google "Adoptee Rights Demonstration" for plenty more including pictures of the actual crowd. The only correct "fact" she presents is that this year's group was, again, comprised primarily of women. As a male adoptee I did find this somewhat disappointing.
It's more like anti-activism. Baby Love-child? BLC? Gimme a break. More like Bitchy Little C*nt. What is it about these citizens she finds so despicable? That they actually did something? Shades of Bastard Nation...
Anyway, like last year, most legislative contact took place inside the convention center. The ARD booth was staffed with four volunteers for the entire duration of the convention and was fortunate to include former Senator Paula Benoit among those staffers. Paula's efforts were instrumental in opening OBCs to Maine adoptees last year and her expertise was invaluable. I was lucky enough to snag a four hour spot on Thursday. I am anything but an experienced lobbyist and, as it turned out, this seemed to work to my advantage. I spent all my time wandering the floor with a sachel of shag from other booths, which made me appear to be another attendee (vs. exhibitor) and which made it easy for me to engage other attendees in extraneous conversation. Which would, of course, lead me to my point of being denied my own birth certificate while knowing all the information on it. While being in regular contact with my half-siblings and my mother's widower. While being an employed homeowner, with no criminal record, who is denied a passport because Homeland Security demands the original identifying documentation legally withheld by my state. Many legisators seemed amused, and yet interested, that I was not a paid lobbyist but an affected everyday joe who had travelled on my own dime to be there and talk with them.
They asked questions.
That's what matters: they asked questions. Almost none knew these records were sealed in their own states. Some told of having adopted relatives and how they planned on asking them if their birth certificates were sealed as I claimed. Some were honest about the Catholic Church, NCFA and RTL being formidible opponents in their districts yet none told me they thought I was wrong. True, these were professional talkers who tend to agree with anyone in public, but I based my level of success on the questions asked.
And I answered a lot of questions.
The experience left me feeling empowered. I am ready to move beyond merely testifying at hearings and flooding my lawmakers with letters, to scheduling days at my capitol, meeting face to face with them. This is real progress on a personal level.
Many others I spoke with said the same thing. This is real progress on a community level.
I'm very new to OBC access activism. It is not what I had expected to find. Instead of a huge cross-section of affected citizens uniting towards a common goal I find groups at odds, infighting, and individuals like blc working to destroy honest efforts towards the common goal. Having examined all these sides, I am convinced the Adoptee Rights Coalition best represents MY opinion that all adult citizens deserve their own original birth certificate regardless of their reason for wanting it. Because they don't CARE what your reason is for wanting it, they don't CARE what color your sign is or if it is professionally printed, they don't CARE that a thirteen-year old particpant made a teen-style you-tube video of the event because it moved her, ALL WHO BELIEVE IN UNRESTRICTED OBC ACCESS FOR ADULTS ARE WELCOME!!
And that says a lot in my book.