Friday, February 06, 2009

If You're a California Adoptee, C.A.R.E. Has Plans For YOU!

(Update: February 14, 2009. C.A.R.E. has updated its website and much of the text mentioned in this blog entry no longer exists. That being said, an awareness of what CARE was saying beofer they became aware of criticism will be crucial to understanding what they plan to do. For updated analysis go to my main page.)

I haven't posted here since I announced my retirement from adoption politics, but something's come over my transom that's alarming enough to rouse me from my torpor... Ok, I haven't been asleep, I've been busy as hell working to get Obama elected and growing the Democratic Party here in suburban Oregon. But I haven't been thinking much about adoption records... I've sure haven't been motivated to write about them... until a few days ago.

Starting last spring there's been some buzz about a new group gonna do some legislative lobbying work on adoption records in California. Now, I'm a California adoptee with an interest in acquiring my records from the Golden State and with some experience in both Adoption World and reality-based California politics. I met with some of these folks at the AAC National Conference in Portland and shared my experience and opinions. I heard around the end of the year that this group was gearing up to introduce a bill this year. Oh well, I thought, fools rush in...

The group is calling itself C.A.R.E. and they have a website: The first thing you'll notice is the header with the photo of the Brooklyn Bridge. I've worked with organizations that depend on volunteer web designers so I know these things can happen, but still... There are stock photos of California poppies and Graumann's Chinese in the public domain... But that's just window dressing, C.A.R.E. gets to the point in the verbiage below. Note there is not one mention of rights, i.e. like adoptees have them. According to C.A.R.E. adoptees have "wishes", i.e. if wishes were horses, beggars would ride...

On to the About Us page, which lists the worthies involved under what I assume is the C.A.R.E. mission statement. C.A.R.E. is dedicated to getting the "maximum number of original birth certificates to California adoptees." This is a queer statement on its face, I mean, I only need access to one original birth certificate, then I'm maxed out. I think that's the case with the rest of California adoptees too. What on earth are they talking about? They then go on to proclaim about the authentic desires of all adult parties to the government record. This is a stretch, it always is when you talk about everybody's desires, desire being a throbbing bundle of contradictory impulses mixed with will and opportunity... but I digress... They end by proclaiming that, oops, adoptees actually do have rights to medical information, place of birth and national origin... which sounds suspiciously like the status quo. I got my place of birth on my amended BC, and my non-identifying information has medical information (my first mother had "good hygeine", sheesh) and her ethnic heritage (Norwegian). The C.A.R.E mission closes with a plea for the California legislature to protect us from "unscrupulous businesses that profit from the unconsented representation of adults"... Who dat?

But really, all this fol de rol pseudo pontificating is secondary to the list of names, actually the name at the bottom of the list. Stephanie Williams, listed as Executive Director. She's the engine, and here's why. The rest of C.A.R.E.'s officers are Adoption World habitues with no political experience. Ms. Williams has a history of legislative lobbying in Sacramento, 16 years as a representative for the California Truckers Association... It's no accident that she's ED, she's running the show.

Next is the Join page. After your name you may enter your "triad" position; "Adoptee", "Birth Parent", "Adoptive Parent", "Birth Sibling", "Support Person/Spouse", and then six categories of adoption professionals. Six. If you wanted to see a graphic of why the "triad" is a trick on the natives, just let your gaze linger on that for a while... But then go to the meat, the "ask" as we like to say in polite politesse. To become a member you've got to pony up 85 clams. 40 if you're a senior. Considering the times and the following-trend that are our unemployment figures they might want to consider a donor category for hobos... Agencies and the like are expected to give 200... This isn't an "ask" designed to generate a lot a support, only the serious donors will feel welcome. Well, not that serious, if they were serious they'd have a category for $10K and over... I suppose at this point it's fair to inquire if C.A.R.E cares about the support of California's adoptees... They don't have a portal for information gathering other than the Join page, for those uncounted unwashed masses who have time or energy to donate in-kind, so what C.A.R.E. really wants is cash.

At any rate, here's the site in a nutshell. C.A.R.E has a hazy notion of what they want to do, or they have a brilliantly focused idea of what they want to do but they aren't putting it on their website. C.A.R.E has engaged an individual with a political history and deep relationships in the California legislature. C.A.R.E wants money, but not grassroots support.

Some of my friends in Adoption World asked me my opinion about C.A.R.E and I gave it, based on what I could observe from picking through their website. They asked for advice, I gave it, and then asked to be taken off the CC: list. I am still retired from Adoption Politics. But then I was forwarded an email distributed to the larger group of folks in California from whence C.A.R.E. came. I am going to post that email, in its entirety, in a later post, along with commentary. It goes a long way at exposing what C.A.R.E. is up to.

Right now it's late and I'm going to bed. As they say in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia",
later bitches!