This July, the Adoptee Rights Coalition will once again maintain a presence at the National Convention of State Legislatures Annual Summit, lobbying to restore the right of adopted adults to possess a copy of their own original, unaltered birth certificate.
The Coalition's message is clear:
* It is discriminatory to withhold any priviledges afforded all others from a group selected using criteria beyond the affected persons' control.
Many attendees have heard the arguments commonly presented against OBC access - promises of confidentiality, increased abortion / decreased adoption rates, etc.
Again, the message is clear:
* Sealed birth certificates are a recent invention designed to protect the adoptive parents and facilitators (read: Profit$) only, because -
* Sealed birth certificates do NOT protect the confidentiality of the biological parent(s) as they are never sealed upon relinquishment, only as the final step of a successful adoption. Those who age out of the foster care system retain their original birth certificate throughout their life.
* Hard data shows that states with unrestricted OBC access for adult adoptees enjoy higher adoption rates and lower abortion rates than their sealed neighbors.
Thankfully, it seems the opposition is accepting the adoption/abortion figures and seldom cites that argument these days.
Still, 44 States deny adult adoptees all the rights afforded all other law-abiding citizens while expecting them to assume all the responsibilities.
This is simply unfair.
It's not about protecting anyone's privacy. We all want and deserve our own comfortable level of privacy. Laws protecting such privacy are among the oldest on the books of most states, right behind murder and thievery. And, in my experience, adoptees are more acutely aware of privacy issues than the average person.
And most adoptees, myself included, don't need our original birth certificate to locate our biological family.
It's not about searching. At all.
It's about being treated as the responsible, law-abiding, productive, tax-paying citizens we are, supposedly equal under God and the law.
It sounds so simple - "treat everyone equally" - yet it remains an elusive goal for over six million adopted Americans.
Not unobtainable though. Once upon a time, not so long ago, women had few rights, blacks had virtually none.
One day, adoptees will have the same rights women and blacks now enjoy. Because there is a rising tide of adoptees and first mothers - those individuals negatively affected by sealed birth certificates - shouting out the fact that, though they represent two-thirds of the "adoption triad", their wishes have been ignored.
One can't blame the State Representatives and Senators - most have never truly pondered the issue and long before an access bill shows up on their desk, they are indocrinated by lobbyists and fellow legislators installed by agency effort.
This is where individual effort by constituents becomes valuable. Call, write, email and fax your lawmaker at least monthly to remind them this is an issue dear to you and your voting habits.
This is also where effort by focus groups can be valuable in the right locale.
The NCSL Annual Summit is one of the largest gatherings of State-level lawmakers in the nation. There is no better venue to promote State-mandated OBC access for adult adoptees, period.
Which, of course, explains why the Adoptee Rights Coalition will be there.
The Coalition is a volunteer-run organization with no corporate sponsorship of any kind. All costs are paid for by the organizers and private donors.
Everyone travels on their own dime and the only Coalition costs are the cost of the booth, printing of educational materials, a room for the pre-demonstration sign making party, some sign making supplies, a room for the post-demonstration party, and required permits and insurance for the demonstration.
Unfortunately, none of these items are cheap (with the exception of sign-making supplies). The booth inside the convention center is $1,795.
So I will now make a shameless plea for donations - please help! All donations are gratefully accepted, no amount is too small! The organizers and a couple of generous donors have enabled the Coalition to pay the 50% down on the booth but the remainder is due mid-March or we lose our primo location in the Convention Center.
All money is handled very frugally - the ARC is comprised of working-class people who are masters at squeezing the buffalo. As of 2009, they are a 501(c)4 Corporation and will soon publish financial statements for enquiring minds.
To actively lobby all week long at the NCSL Summit is an attractive proposition for those interested in eliminating OBC discrimination against adoptees.
To acheive it for under $3,000 is an incredible bargain, given the number of lawmakers exposed to our message.
Please click here to donate whatever you can spare via paypal. Alternatively, checks and money orders may be made payable to and mailed to:
Adoptee Rights Coalition
109 E Brown St
Nicholasville, KY 40356
And, of course, the Adoptee Rights Coalition will be staging a demonstration on the opening day of the NCSL Summit to announce our presence and our mission.
An informational meeting and sign-making party will be held the evening before, beginning at 7pm on Saturday, July 24, at the Hampton Inn, 101 E Jefferson St, Louisville KY.
Please plan on attending! It is an incredible opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals active in their own states and to socialize with some of the greatest people you will ever meet.
I hope to see you there.