Archive for February, 2007

AN INTERESTING STORY

February 28, 2007

I don’t think the Catholic Church would even begin to think about the ramifications of this type of article to an adoptee. It proves over and over what we as the adoption plane have been saying for years and years. We deserve to know our truth. No matter how brutal and cruel our beginnings are. They are our truth and we want that truth. Things make go hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.
The Catholic Register: Speaker advocates for right to life as one ‘conceived through rape’
By Sara Loftson2/26/2007
The Catholic Register (www.catholicregister.org)
TORONTO, Canada (The Catholic Register) – “Except in the case of rape” is a phrase that hits a little too close to home for Rebecca Kiessling.


Looking at her today, one would never guess that the attorney turned stay-at-home mom was conceived through a brutal rape.
About 100 people showed up to hear Kiessling talk about her life story and advocate for the right to life of the unborn Feb. 12 at the University of St. Michael’s College here. The University of Toronto Students for Life sponsored the Detroit native’s speech at the college.
As an infant, Kiessling was adopted by a Jewish family. She grew up feeling like an outsider not knowing who her real parents were. At the beginning of her talk Kiessling, 38, recited an emotional poem she had written as an 18-year-old, first-year university student about her longing to find her birth parents.
At 18, she obtained a detailed description of her biological mother, but for her father the only identifying features were caucasian and large. It was then that she asked her attorney, “was my mother raped?” She soon found that was the case.
Knowing that she was conceived through rape, Kiessling contacted her biological mother who fleshed out more of the details.
At 4’10’’ and 90 pounds, Kiessling’s mother had been attacked after going grocery shopping. Police suspected the attacker was a serial rapist because there had been several similar cases in the area.
Upon learning of her circumstances, Kiessling suffered from low self-esteem, asking questions like, “Do I have this ugliness inside of me?”
“I didn’t want to be part of that classification – conceived in rape,” she said.
She tried to prove her worth by making herself attractive and successful and sought love and validation through unhealthy relationships, which escalated to the point where her boyfriend in law school beat her up, knocking out her front tooth.
Kiessling said eventually it was by reading scripture that she realized it was not the rapist but God who was her creator. While she is a convert to Catholicism, in this presentation she didn’t focus on her Christian influences in order to keep the talk open to a wider university audience.
Over the years, Kiessling has slowly built up a relationship with her biological mother and siblings. She found out that her mother attempted to abort her twice, once with the help of a back alley abortionist, but the low health standards turned her off, and another time by a more sophisticated abortionist, but a snow blizzard prevented her from keeping her appointment.
Just four years after Kiessling’s birth, the 1973 landmark case Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.
And her mother said had it been the case a few years earlier, she would have opted for a legalized abortion.
Kiessling said today her mother is OK and sees her as a blessing, but legalized abortion doesn’t allow for second chances.
Kiessling said that studies show birthing an unwanted child helps women overcome the rape because of the mentality that something as beautiful as new life can come from something as horrible as rape.
Today, a pregnant Kiessling has been married for eight years and she’s left her family law practice to stay at home and home school her four children, all under the age of seven, two of whom are adopted children conceived through rape. – – –
Republished with permission by Catholic Online from The Catholic Register (www.catholicregister.org ), the largest circulation national Catholic newspaper in Canada, a Catholic Online Preferred Publishing Partner. To subscribe to The Catholic Register, click here.

WAITING FOR THE RIGHT TIME

February 28, 2007

‘Waiting for this moment’By THERESA HOGUEGazette-Times reporter
SCOBEL WIGGINS Gazette-TimesSeason Forbush of Olympia, Wash., was overjoyed when she found her birth mother, Rebecca Roach of Philomath. Mom had been waiting more than 20 years for the phone call that would reunite.

At age 25, Season Forbush meets her birth motherPHILOMATH — Rebecca Roach always knew that her daughter would come back to her one day. When she had a baby girl at age 19, she made the difficult decision to place her up for adoption through the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, knowing that she couldn’t provide a stable home and two parents for her newborn.
It was the right decision, she knew then, despite the tiny fingers that wrapped around her own.“She was so beautiful,” Roach said.But although she was saying goodbye, Roach instinctively knew that one day, her daughter would seek her out. And she would be ready to greet her with open arms.That day came in May 2006, when Roach’s stepmother called to relay a strange message she’d just received from a young woman who called the house.“She wanted to get a hold of me, because of ‘something about being a daughter,’ ” Roach said. As soon as she heard the message, Roach knew exactly what was about to happen. She was about to hear her daughter’s voice for the first time.She called the number her stepmother had given her, and Season Forbush answered the phone. Forbush hesitantly told her that Roach’s name was on her birth certificate.“I couldn’t breathe,” Roach said. “I’d been waiting for this moment forever.”In a rush of emotion and excitement, Forbush told her biological mother that she now had a grandson. And Roach told Forbush that she had a younger brother.“We instantly just started talking like we were best friends,” said Forbush.They met that week for the first time. Roach brought all her siblings over to the Philomath house to meet Forbush.“They were all like me,” Forbush said. “I grew up in a big family. I had three sisters and a brother, but no one has ever been like me. I’ve always been loud and obnoxious, according to them, but I come here and I’m like ‘These people are just like me.’ ”Forbush and Roach discovered they shared a lot in common, from their love of laughter to their gift of music and singing. It was surprising to Forbush to learn how much biology had played a part in her personality.“The first time I walked in, I felt like it was home,” Forbush said.Forbush was raised in Utah and Washington by an LDS family who had already adopted a son; she lives now outside of Olympia, Wash. After Lynne and Roger Forbush brought Season into their home, they had three biological children of their own. Season Forbush said she always knew that she was adopted, and always felt the desire to find her mother, although she loved her adoptive family.“I had a wonderful upbringing,” Forbush said.When she was 18, she tried to get access to her birth records, but was told she couldn’t see them until she was 21. But at 21, she had just given birth to her son, Geryk, and didn’t think it was the right time, so she waited until she was 25 to finally seek out her biological mother. Her adoptive parents were supportive; in fact, her mother helped Forbush do an Internet search to track Roach down.Although the reunion was very emotional and a little scary for both of them, the pair formed an instant bond. Since that initial meeting, they’ve met in person four times, including a meeting this week, and talk on the phone every day.“I’m at the stage now where I want to pet her all the time,” Roach said.Forbush now is hoping to track down her biological father. Roach met him in Lebanon in 1980. He was doing roof work on a chain restaurant in town, and his initials are R.R. Roach, whose last name was Umland at the time, said Forbush’s father knew she was pregnant, but made it clear he didn’t want to be involved.Forbush said she doesn’t want anything from her father, except to meet him, if he’s interested in getting in contact with her. She is especially interested in her family’s health history, for her son’s benefit.Even if she doesn’t hear from her father, she’s grateful for the blessing of her new relationship with her biological mother.“I am finally learning who I am, and where I come from. It’s really helped me a lot, my whole entire attitude has changed,” Forbush said. “My whole life has changed, and it’s really awesome.”If Forbush’s father is still in the area, he can contact her at seasonlynne@hotmail.com.

ANOTHER INDIANA REUNION

February 27, 2007

Discovering his roots
Adopted at birth, banker Ron Wilson finds a family tree extending into Kentucky, Indiana
Gretchen Losi February 25, 2007

Coming into work at his bank, Ron Wilson thought it was going to be a typical day — then he checked his e-mail.
There he found a letter from Pauline Miller, 49, asking if he was her brother.
Wilson didn’t know what to make of it.
“I thought it was weird. You don’t get that kind of question every day,” Wilson said.
Photo by James Quigg / Staff photographer: Deanna and Ron Wilson at their home. Wilson knew he was adopted for several years, but only recently learned he has eight other biological siblings.
Since he was a boy, Wilson, president of Desert Community Bank, knew he was adopted. Once he and Miller began conversing, it was established they did, in fact, share the same biological mother — Lilly Luster.The realization that Miller had found her brother thrilled her.
“I think it’s absolutely great. I’ve been wanting to find him. It’s been a long struggle,” she said.
Luster gave birth to eight children in a small mining town in the hills of Kentucky. Wilson said the family had little money, forcing Luster to give three of her children up for adoption.
Wilson knew all of this and even spoke to his birth mother several years ago after she made contact.She introduced herself and asked him for forgiveness — which for Wilson, a man of faith, was an easy gift to offer.
“Times were tough. I had no problem forgiving her,” he said.
But out of respect for his adoptive parents, he had no desire to pursue any type of relationship.
Since then his adoptive parents have passed away along with his birth mother. And now Wilson is being given the opportunity to meet his biological siblings — except one.
Donald Nantz, the fourth child, was also put up for adoption, served in Vietnam and died in his 40s from pneumonia, Wilson said. Born between 1945 and 1964, Wilson’s siblings were Roy Nantz, Geraldine Nantz, Roger Nantz, Donald Nantz, Willard Nolan, Pauline Nolan-Miller; and Elizabeth and Jackie for whom no last name was available.
Because the new relationship is in its early stages, Wilson knows little about his siblings.
He knows Elizabeth, the second youngest, was the third and final child of Luster’s to be put up for adoption.
She is now a registered nurse living in Corbin, Ky. His youngest sister, Jackie, and her husband, a post office worker, own a business in Indiana where Pauline Miller also lives.
Wilson and his children are looking forward to connecting with them.
“They’re real excited. They’re a bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins to them,” Wilson said.
While excited about the prospects of getting to know his family, it’s not something Wilson said he felt a longing for while growing up.
His adoptive parents made sure he lacked nothing in the form of love, support, a strong Christian foundation and, most importantly, a true sense of identity.
“I never had a desire to seek out my birth family,” Wilson said. “I felt I knew who I was. My parents gave me that.”
His father, Calvert Clem Clay Wilson, was a barber by profession and his mother, Elaine Rose Wilson, was a homemaker. Wilson said he grew up lower middle class in an 800-square-foot home, the last one in the neighborhood to have a color television.
Interestingly, Wilson’s adoptive father was from the same part of Kentucky as his birth family. He says had he been raised in the hills of Kentucky, he wouldn’t be a bank president today. He shared a story that depicts the mentality of the area as reminiscent of the olden days in Deadwood.
His adoptive grandfather, a moonshiner at the time, found Christianity and became the town’s sheriff. This was to the dismay of much of the family, who were still more fond of their moonshine than prayer on Sundays.
While burning down one of the stills, a cousin fatally shot the grandfather between the eyes. The cousin was soon shot and killed himself by an uncle.
“It’s a typical illustration of the mountain environment I would have grown up in,” Wilson said.
That combined with Luster telling Wilson that had abortion been legal at the time of his conception, he would likely have never been born, only reinforces his belief that God did indeed have a purpose for Wilson in this world.
“It was all part of God’s plan. The fact I wasn’t aborted and was adopted … there was a purpose,” Wilson said. “If I hadn’t left Kentucky, I would have never been a banker.”
He got his start in banking in 1972 where at 4 p.m. he would go to the desks of the bankers and empty their ash trays.
His father never missed work, so throughout high school and college, Wilson never missed a class. And in 34 years of banking, Wilson said he has never taken a single sick day.
Wilson said that God had a purpose for his life, and it was through His grace that he is where he is today.And it’s because of where he is today that allowed Miller to find him.
His birth family had his name and knew he was in banking, so Miller got on the Web to trace him. She stumbled along an article about an award a “Ron Wilson” had won — and it had a photo.
It was through this Web site that Miller found the e-mail address that initiated their reconnection.
Ad

A NEW BLOGGING FIRST MOTHER

February 27, 2007

http://montravia.livejournal.com/5106.html?v

Please visit her.

A DAMPER ON OPEN ACCESS BILLS IN TEXAS

February 27, 2007

AUSTIN — County clerks could spend six months in jail and be fined $1,000 for releasing records historically accessible to the public that contain Social Security numbers, according to the state attorney general.
Representatives of county officials statewide called the ruling “huge” in its implications, saying compliance could cost local taxpayers millions of dollars, including countless extra hours of labor.
Some even predicted possible lending delays for homebuyers and those trying to close commercial real estate deals as public servants scurry to ensure records comply with state and federal privacy laws.
Attorney General Greg Abbott, responding to questions raised by Fort Bend County officials, said it is mandatory for county clerks and other government officials to remove Social Security numbers before distributing public documents.
The question arose because state public information law was amended two years ago to say county clerks “may” remove Social Security numbers on documents they archive and distribute to the public.
Abbott, citing other portions of state law and federal law, said Texans have a right to keep their Social Security numbers private. Therefore, county officials are required to delete them before releasing documents to the public.
For county clerks, these documents largely involve real estate titles and liens but also include birth and death certificates and marriage licenses.
County clerks, much like librarians or archivists, are the repository for many records the public files, said Elna Christopher, spokeswoman for the Texas Association of Counties.
Abbott’s opinion could require combing through public records going back all the way to the 1930s, she said, when the Social Security system was created as a government insurance plan for old age.
“No one knows what it’s going to cost to do this,” Christopher said. “It becomes another unfunded mandate. It’s huge for counties.”
Abbott’s opinion warns that disclosure of confidential information such as Social Security numbers is a criminal offense under the Texas Public Information Act, and that applies to all county clerk records.
Clerks are not required to redact Social Security numbers from original, certified documents, but are they required to remove the numbers and note they have done so when releasing them to the public, the opinion says.
“The public archive system is essential to our courts system and our property system,” said Don Lee, executive director of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, representing 36 counties statewide.
“This opinion disrupts the whole real property transfer system we have,” he said. “There’s a real possibility you won’t be able to close on a house.”
Christopher said the clerk in Fort Bend County, which has been posting public records on the Internet, has estimated it could take an entire year to create a duplicate system of records with no Social Security numbers attached.
Harris County doesn’t post records on the Internet, but they do offer public access terminals with electronic images of original records, said David Beirne, spokesman for the Harris County Clerk’s Office.
Even so, it will cost local taxpayers at least $17.4 million for new software and servers to remove Social Security numbers from the electronic documents, he said.
Beirne said the county is sensitive to the legal problems underlying Abbott’s opinion. Identity thieves in recent years increasingly have seized on Social Security numbers as a gateway into private bank accounts and other sensitive personal data.
Still, as county officials meet in coming weeks to discuss how they will keep public information available without hurting individual privacy, they say they feel frustrated.
“The direction the attorney general gives is very expensive in some cases, impractical in other cases and impossible in the rest,” Lee said.
polly.hughes@chron.

NEW ADDITIONS ON THE LINK SIDE

February 26, 2007

I have added many many new links to the old blog. Check many of them out. Many if not all support adoption reform. Its about time for changes to occur. Its time that state legislatures listen to us. We are ADOPTION. Adoption agencies, attorneys and their lobbyists are not. They profit from adoption. Lets change the laws. This will be OUR year. LETS OWN IT.

TAKING ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THEIR CATHOLIC CHARITIES

February 24, 2007

ISSUE: In the near future, the Assembly Human Services Committee will consider A-2557. This proposal would permit adults who had been adopted as children, as well as the guardians or adoptive parents of a child who is currently a minor, to learn the identity of a biological parent. These birth parents had surrendered children for adoption with not merely an expectation of confidentiality but with actual statutory assurance that his or her identity as the child’s parent will be shielded from public disclosure.

Every one knows that the Catholic Church loves its secrets and its lies. Look at the way that they have treated those that have been abused by their Catholic priests. They have done everything to discredit them. The adults have had to go through being rehumiliated by the Church’s attitudes. Fortunately these adults have stood strong. Recently I posted a story of two men who are suing a priest for past child support. This priest raped their mothers. All the Church has to say is that this man doesn’t have the money to pay them. The Church does not want to held accountable for any of its corrupt antics by its priests.

The Catholic Church did the same to many of the mothers of the Baby Scoop Era. They want to discredit them to the hilt. It probably doesn’t help that these women are standing up now. Most of these women do not want that confidentiality. Most did not ask for it. All these groups want is to hide their secrets. To hide what they did to our mothers.

NJCC POSITION: The New Jersey Catholic Conference opposes A2557 as currently written. NJCC does not oppose adoptees’ having full access to their biological parents’ medical histories; this information can often prove helpful in dealing with medical difficulties that they – and their own descendents – might confront. While it is currently fully available, the Legislature’s formally mandating such availability would be advisable.

Okay medical history is fully available. No its not fully available. If it were, we would not be having this discussion in the first place. We would be discussing them with our parents. We would not be having a social worker coming between us deciding what information is valuable and what information is not. We would not have someone deciding for us. I love how they put it as descendants ~ hmmm aren’t they family? I think so and so does a few others of us. For me, I don’t have my father’s side of the health issues. The adoption agency feels that I don’t need that information because she supposedly refused.

Neither does the Conference oppose revealing the identities of their natural parents to adoptees in cases where the natural parents have affirmatively consented to the release of such information. However, to release that information without the birth parents’ actual consent is a callous betrayal.

I like their definition of callous betrayal. What about the callous betrayal of what they did to our parents? What about the sparse meals they fed our mothers? What about the times that they refused our mothers time to spend in Church? What about the humiliation that they put our mothers through? They called them bad girls, whores, and such. They have left them with that title for eternity. They sent them to basements and the attics in labor until they were ready to deliver. Then they denied them the right to hold their children, denied them the right to love their children, denied them the right to name their children, and many other things. They denied them the right to decent medical care. It was either too much medication or none. They left them to suffer.

Birth mothers have relied on an assurance of privacy not based on some private contract or agreement between themselves and the adoption agency; no such contract or agreement was needed in light of the specific public law – which the court has called “the statutory shield of confidentiality.”

The state is not responsible for the actions of adoption agencies, the social workers, the priests, the nuns, and others. The law was established to cover the illegal activities of adoption agencies that dealt in black market babies, to remove the stigma of bastarddom from the children, and to keep first parents from interfering in the adoptive parents lives. It was not established to “protect” the first parents from their children.

A2557 should be amended to include an enhanced mutual consent registry system which would link biological parents and adult adopted persons when the parties have requested and consented to such a reunion. This enhanced mutual consent registry would use a qualified individual or agency to function as an Intermediary

Of course they don’t want us making our own decisions. They don’t want us to communicate with our parents. They want to make more money off us. When CIs make 1,000 bucks and more off adoptees and their first parents, its a deal that keeps getting better. They took our parents’ families. They took our adoptive parents. Now they want to take us. It adds up after a while. They keep profitting while we keep being treated like criminals who have done nothing wrong. We have been made guilty just by either being born to an unwed mother or being an unwed mother or by being an adoptive parent.

MY ARGUMENTS IN RETORT TO THE PREVIOUS ARTICLES.

February 24, 2007

A-2768 (Cohen) Expands identity theft statues to include selling, manufacturing, possessing, or exhibiting false birth certificates. Signed into law as P.L.2005, c.224
This little bit kind of bugs me. What are amended birth certificates if not lies and falsified documents. Isn’t this a contradiction in terms?

The bill could potentially encourage some birth parents to surrender their children under the Safe Haven law to preserve their privacy, rather than give their children up for adoption and subject themselves to the requirements of the bill.

This assumes a hostile relationship between mother and child. This assumes that mothers will just rush to those safe haven places. Most parents are reasonable folks that love their children. How about making resources available that help women either keep their children or place them in an enviroment that allows them to have contact. Placing their children up for adoption, the women from the sixties, seventies and eighties will tell you that it tore them up.

The bill has an overall chilling effect on adoptions in that it will likely discourage people, both those giving children up for adoption and those seeking to adopt children, from pursuing the adoption process in light of the loss of a confidentiality shield.

Actually if you look at Oregon. Its had quite the opposite effect. Its promoted adoptions. There hasn’t been any legal ramifications from stalked first parents. Most people are respectful of others feelings on these things. WE are afterall adults and We can handle ourselves like adults.

The bill will have a negative effect on women in the process of adoption or are currently pregnant and have already decided to give up a child for adoption. Confidentiality was likely a key factor in their incredibly difficult decision-making process and such confidentiality would likely be lost under the provisions of the bill.

In case you haven’t noticed. Many adoptions are open. In case you haven’t noticed most women want to know how their children are doing these days. Most adoptive parents, first parents, and adoptees want honesty in their lives. They are tired of the lies of adoption agencies and attorneys. They now want to control what happens in their lives. We are tired of you trying to control what we think, feel, want, and need. I view you as wanting that God almight dollar that is earned off our backs.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES ALSO HATES US

February 23, 2007

New Jersey Catholic Conference
149 North Warren Street , Trenton , New Jersey 08608
609-989-1120

Action Alert

This is taken from the website of the NJ CC. Keep in mind they agreed they would not lobby while we are in negotiations and this went up on 2/14.
A-2557 (Primary Sponsors: Manzo, Prieto, Voss and Caraballo)

ISSUE:
In the near future, the Assembly Human Services Committee will consider A-2557. This proposal would permit adults who had been adopted as children, as well as the guardians or adoptive parents of a child who is currently a minor, to learn the identity of a biological parent. These birth parents had surrendered children for adoption with not merely an expectation of confidentiality but with actual statutory assurance that his or her identity as the child’s parent will be shielded from public disclosure.

NJCC POSITION:
The New Jersey Catholic Conference opposes A2557 as currently written. NJCC does not oppose adoptees’ having full access to their biological parents’ medical histories; this information can often prove helpful in dealing with medical difficulties that they – and their own descendents – might confront. While it is currently fully available, the Legislature’s formally mandating such availability would be advisable.

Neither does the Conference oppose revealing the identities of their natural parents to adoptees in cases where the natural parents have affirmatively consented to the release of such information. However, to release that information without the birth parents’ actual consent is a callous betrayal.

Birth mothers have relied on an assurance of privacy not based on some private contract or agreement between themselves and the adoption agency; no such contract or agreement was needed in light of the specific public law – which the court has called “the statutory shield of confidentiality.”

A2557 should be amended to include an enhanced mutual consent registry system which would link biological parents and adult adopted persons when the parties have requested and consented to such a reunion. This enhanced mutual consent registry would use a qualified individual or agency to function as an Intermediary

THE NJ BAR ASSOCIATION HATES ADOPTEES

February 23, 2007

December 1, 2006

Re: S-1087 (Vitale/Allen) Permits adopted persons and certain others access to adopted person’s original birth certificate and other related information; appropriates $90,000

Dear Members of the Senate:

The New Jersey State Bar Association respectfully urges you to vote “no” on S-1087 (Vitale/Allen) which permits adopted persons and certain others access to adopted person’s original birth certificate and other related information and appropriates $90,000.

This legislation was reviewed by the Association’s Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee, Family Law Section and Women in the Profession Section.

This bill amends the law to allow adult adopted persons access to their birth certificate and other related information and establishes a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry.

NJSBA sections and committees have reviewed this and prior versions of the bill over many years. Historically, we have supported mutual consent adoption registries and supported adult adoptees access to the original birth certificate, if made prospective in its application. Given the provisions in the current bill, the NJ SBA has strong objections listed below.

THE NJSBA’S OBJECTIONS

A) THE BILL BURDENS THE BIRTH MOTHER’S REASONABLE EXPECTATION PRIVACY.

New Jersey courts have long interpreted the current adoption statutes as providing birth parents with an expectation of privacy. Our courts have held that the purpose of New Jersey’s adoption statutes is, among other things, to promote policies and procedures socially necessary and desirable for the protection not only of the child placed for adoption and his or her birth parents, but also the adopting parents. This bill would place those birth parents at an extreme disadvantage given the expectation of privacy which has been judicially noted and relied on by these persons and others.

A birth parent who places a child up for adoption and does not submit a written, notarized request for nondisclosure forfeits her privacy rights, and her child will have access to her name upon turning eighteen. It is highly unlikely that every woman who gave up a child in New Jersey within the last eighteen years will be properly informed of the new procedures within twelve months. Thi s is especially a problem among rural, uneducated, or non-English speaking communities, despite a public awareness campaign. It is also unrealistic that a birth parent who lives outside the State of New Jersey will comply with our State laws in order to avoid such an invasion of privacy. Furthermore, it is simply unfair to force a woman who was once assured that she would remain anonymous to complete paperwork and relive the painful decision she made years earlier.

Furthermore, the birth mother must fill out a medical history form within 60 days despite her request for nondisclosure. She will then be forced to update that form every ten years until she turns forty and every five years thereafter. If she fails to complete the form in a timely manner, she runs the risk of nullifying her original request for nondisclosure.

It is unsettling that the state will further invade her privacy by sending her a certified letter at least 45 days prior to reversing her anonymity. During those 45 days, she may be ill, away on an extended vacation, overseas or temporarily living at a different address. Members of her immediate family, including her children, can easily open the letter and learn something about her past that she had no intention of revealing to them. This bill expects a birth parent to make her self available to tend to this tedious procedure at specific times during specific years for the rest of her life.

B) IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR EVERY PERSON WHOM THIS BILL APPLIES TO, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY PLACED THEIR BABIES UP FOR ADOPTION, TO LEARN ABOUT THE DETAILS OF SUCH A NEW LAW IN TIME TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY.

This bill appropriates $90,000 to the Department of Health and Senior Services to contract with television and radio media outlets to create national public service messages and encourage participation in this initiative. The public service messages would inform the public of the detailed procedure a birth parent must follow in order to request nondisclosure, including the strict time limit. It is unrealistic to expect that these steps will sufficiently inform every birth parent in New Jersey who has ever given a child up for adoption of their rights. Further, given New Jersey ‘s expensive and costly media market sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia , the $90,000 approved for media outreach is insufficient at best.

A similar example of a state’s failure to inform birth parents of their rights before it is too late to exercise them are the Putative Father Registries that exist in many other states, though not in New Jersey. After a man who has conceived a child with a woman registers with his state’s Putative Father Registry, the court will make sure that he is notified of any pending adoptions involving that child. He then has the right to appear before the court to contest the adoption. The problem is that the father is required to submit the form within a certain period of time after the child’s birth before he loses his right to do so. (Ex: Illinois gives only 30 days) Predictably, the registries are often unsuccessful and often complicate adoptions painfully late in the process. These complications arise because far too many expectant fathers do not know about the availability and strict requirements of the registry regardless of the “public service” announcements designed to inform them.

New Jerseyans and in particular birth parents should not have to take an affirmative step to maintain their privacy rights, especially given that that most will be unaware that such rights are in jeopardy. Instead, one should take an affirmative step to waive one’s cherished right of personal privacy.

C) THE BILL DISREGARDS THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ADOPTION.

One of the fundamental benefits of adoption is that a birth mother can make a painful sacrifice for her biological child’s best interest and then move on with her life. Requiring a woman to continually submit information in the family history form will not allow her to enjoy a feeling of closure after her traumatic experience. It forces her to relive it continuously throughout the rest of her life.

Furthermore, many children adopted in the past were adopted with an understanding between birth parents and adoptive parents that unless both the child (after age 18) and the birth parent agreed, there would be no revealing of the birth parent’s identity. For example, a child adopted through Catholic Charities is placed with the adoptive parents with specific reliance by the birth parents that the birth parents’ identity will not be disclosed without the express consent and desire of the birth parent. Often, it is the security of this knowledge that would be the reason a birth parent and/or an adoptive parent chooses an agency. To disregard that sacred reasoning is a breach that reflects a total disregard of the complexity of adoption.

D) THE BILL CONFLICTS WITH THE SAFE HAVEN INFANT PROTECTION ACT.

Under the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, a person may safely and anonymously surrender custody of an unwanted infant who is under thirty (30) days old at any time without notice, no questions asked. As long as the baby has not been abused and is brought to a hospital emergency room or police station in New Jersey, the person need not fear arrest or prosecution. Furthermore, if birth parents cannot bring the baby to one of those locations themselves, they may send the baby with someone else such as a relative, friend, social worker, etc. If the mother brings in the baby, she is offered free medical treatment and social services. If the person surrendering the baby is willing to share any information about the baby’s health, family medical history, race, place of birth, or date of birth in order to assist in the child’s future care or curiosity, hospital personnel or police will record it. The child is then placed in a pre-adoptive home until he/she is formally adopted.

The purpose of the Safe Haven Act is to protect unwanted infants from being abused, abandoned or killed. This law has had a tremendous impact on avoiding the much publicized tragedies involving babies left in garbage cans, dumpsters and toilets. These babies were often born to mothers who hid their pregnancies, terrified of the consequences they may face if their families found out. Out of desperation, they abandon or kill the babies immediately after they are born.

The bill could potentially encourage some birth parents to surrender their children under the Safe Haven law to preserve their privacy, rather than give their children up for adoption and subject themselves to the requirements of the bill.

E) ALTHOUGH THE BILL CONTINUOUSLY REFERS TO BIRTH “PARENTS”, ITS REQUIREMENTS CLEARLY IMPACT BIRTH MOTHERS MUCH MORE THAN BIRTH FATHERS, AND PARTICULARLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN SINGLE MOTHERS

Often a woman who places her baby for adoption does so because she is single and the biological father is out of the picture. The father may have broken off the relationship after learning about the pregnancy, if there was ever a relationship to start with. She may not know the father. She may have even been raped. Children born under these circumstances often have birth certificates that do not reveal a father’s name. This bill will further the disparity between how men and women address the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy.

According to recent U.S. Census Bureau reports, single parents accounted for 65% of all African American family groups with children, compared with 35% for among Hispanics and 25% among whites. While the percentage of African-American single parent families is attributable to complex social reasons, this legislation could disproportionately impact single black mothers to their detriment.

F) THE BILL MAY ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO KEEP BABIES THAT MAY BE BEST CARED FOR BY AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY.

Women who place their babies up for adoption look forward to moving on with their lives and putting the experience behind them. Many come to peace with the decision they made and want to begin a new life. They struggle with the process of severing the bond that has been created with the child during pregnancy. Telling a women who is considering adoption that she will never be able to completely detach herself from that child and live th e rest of her life anonymously unless she constantly submits to an invasive and tedious process may lead to her foregoing adoption altogether.

G) THE OBLIGATION TO REPORT AN ADDRESS CHANGE TO THE STATE REGISTRAR’S OFFICE IS UNREASONABLE.

Failure to complete and return a family history form to the New Jersey State Registrar nullifies a birth parent’s request for non-disclosure. The New Jersey State Registrar requires a current address in order to send the family history form to birth parents and provide them with adequate warning that their request for nondisclosure could be nullified if the family history form is not returned in a timely manner. The bill is punitive in this respect. It is cumbersome to require a person who has given a child up for adoption to continuously apprise New Jersey ‘s State Registrar of their address every time they move, especially if they leave the state, to preserve the request for non-disclosure.

H) SIMILAR LEGISLATION ALREADY HAS BEEN VETOED IN ANOTHER STATE

On June 2, 2006 , Governor M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut vetoed Senate Bill 4, legislation that would have allowed adult adoptees to obtain information about their birth parents without mutual consent. Governor Rell vetoed the bill out of concern that opening adoption records without the approval of biological parents would have damaging unintended consequences. Governor Rell’s reasons for vetoing the bill, many of which echo our concerns with S-1087, include:

The bill will have a negative effect on women in the process of adoption or are currently pregnant and have already decided to give up a child for adoption. Confidentiality was likely a key factor in their incredibly difficult decision-making process and such confidentiality would likely be lost under the provisions of the bill.

The important principle of mutual consent before release of specific parental identification information would be eliminated;

Some women may be deterred from choosing a conventional adoption process and instead opt to avail themselves of the state’s Safe Havens Act, which allows birth mothers to decline to provide any contact or medical history information when they hand over their newborn in a hospital emergency room, thus resulting in less, not more, birth information being available to adoptees when they seek it in their adult years.

The bill has an overall chilling effect on adoptions in that it will likely discourage people, both those giving children up for adoption and those seeking to adopt children, from pursuing the adoption process in light of the loss of a confidentiality shield.

Governor Rell stressed that the principle of privacy is a basic tenet of personal freedom and that the bill violates that principle.

Privacy is also the primary concern of the NJSB A with regard to this S-1087. The legislation substantially burdens the privacy of birth parents who give a child up for adoption. This runs contrary to the current trend in the Legislature to increase privacy protections. There are numerous examples of legislation introduced and enacted in recent years to protect individual privacy and the confidentiality of private information.&nb sp; These include:

· A-2768 (Cohen) Expands identity theft statues to include selling, manufacturing, possessing, or exhibiting false birth certificates. Signed into law as P.L.2005, c.224

· A-4001 (Watson Coleman) The “Identity Theft Prevention Act.” Signed into laws as P.L.2005, c.226

· S-376/A-1373 (Sacco/Quigley) Creates the “Biometric Identifier Privacy Act.”

· S-547/A-2518 (Buono/Cohen) “New Jersey Financial Information Privacy Act.”

· S-1625/A-3473 (Buono/Vainieri Huttle) “Adolescents’ Online Privacy Protection Act.”

· A-131 (Merkt) Classifies victim impact statements as confidential communications.

· A-139 (Vandervalk) Creates a civil rape shield law.

· A-777 (Caraballo) Provides for expungement of certain records of victims of identity theft.

· A-1080 (Greenstein) Protects privacy of an individual’s financial information by prohibiting disclosure without the prior informed, affirmative consent of the consumer.

· A-2105 (Beck) Establishes NJ Task Force on Records Privacy.

· A-2723 (Greenstein) Provides of development of public employee identification number, limits use of Social Security number.

· A-2938 (Greenwald) Prohibits the use or possession of cellular picture phones to invade another person’s privacy and prohibits camera or picture cell phones in schools.

THE NJSB A’S SUGGESTED AMENDMENTS

To address the privacy issues raised by the bill and other above mentioned objections, the NJ SBA has drafted suggested amendments to S-1087. This bill draft reflects the consensus of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the New Jersey Right to Life Committee and the National Council for Adoption. This bill draft strikes a critical balance of providing adopted persons with liberal access to their family medical, cultural, and social h istory, while providing birth parents with the opportunity to maintain their privacy. The amendments are summarized as follows:

· For adoptions occurring prior to the enactment of the bill, a birth parent would have to file a request for non-disclosure and provide a family history form which sets forth information regarding family medical, cultural, and social history information. Birth parents would have 18 months, following the date of enactment, to file a request for non-disclosure. In the event that the request for non-disclosure and the family history form are not filed with the State Registrar, the adopted person would be permitted access to his or her original birth certificate. However, if the documents are appropriately filed with the State Registrar, the adopted person would have access to the family history form only.

· For adoptions occurring after the enactment of the bill, a similar scenario applies. The birth parents would have an opportunity to file a contact preference form. A family history form would also have to be filed in all cases where a preference form is filed. In the event these documents are filed and an adopted person seeks to obtain a copy of his or her origin al birth certificate, the application would be denied, except that the family history form would be provided to the adopted person. The current version of the bill permits an adopted person to obtain his or her original birth certificate regardless of the contact preference of a birth parent.

· Further, the bill permits a legal challenge to the denial of a request for an original birth certificate. In that case, a substantial burden would be placed on the applicant.

· Sections five and eight of S-1087 are deleted as these provisions may conflict with the attorney-client privilege and the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys and the practice of law and they may place an undue burden on the court’s administrative offices. Also, there is concern that if too many avenues are open with respect to access to information, it is more likely that information which should not be disclosed may inadvertently be produced.

This proposed bill draft was submitted to Senator Joseph Vitale, the prime sponsor of the bill and presented to the members of the Senate Health Committee. The Committee rejected the proposal. We acknowledge Senator Vitale’s willingness to work with the NJSBA on this and many other issues. We also recognize that the current bill represents an attempt to balance many competing interests. However, we respectfully regret that we cannot support the bill in its cur rent form and request that the Legislature consider and adopt the NJ SBA’s suggested amendments as set forth above.

Again, this is an issue that has received careful thought, analysis and reflection. We urge you vote “no” on this bill as it is currently drafted. For further information, please contact, Valerie Brown, Legislative Counsel, at 732-937-7512 or vbrown@njsba.com.

Very truly yours,

Valerie Brown
Legislative Counsel