Sunday, March 29, 2009

C.A.R.E. doesn't care about California's adult adoptees, Pt 2

There's been some chitter chat on various fora, blogs and blog comments about how AB 372 no longer "belongs" to C.A.R.E., and that while they have publicly declared a willingness to compromise (compromise what, when and where left unspecified), they would rather not. CARE's memo from their ED, dated March 26th, and for the moment linked to their update page, should put to rest any such misapprehensions. The memo demonstrates that while C.A.R.E. might rather be sailing or fishing or advocating for adoptee rights, they are quite willing to compromise early on basic issues of equity for California's adult adoptees.

Folks don't seem to get that as the sponsoring organization for AB 372, C.A.R.E. has privileges of advise, consent and access that others do not. In practical terms this means that C.A.R.E. plans to negotiate and strike compromises with organizations like ACAL and the ACLU and let you in on it afterward. Assemblywoman Ma and C.A.R.E did not invite any other stakeholder organizations to the March 24th meeting described in the memo, although at that point her office certainly was aware of CalOpen and AAAFC's interest in the bill. But that's not the way C.A.R.E rolls. They have appointed themselves as the deciders, and they are deciding.

So, why 25? According to C.A.R.E, the California Association of Adoption Agencies and others at the meeting (who dat?) "recommended the age be raised to 25 and a confidential intermediary utilized before the record was released". This makes sense if you're a social worker, because the in the word-view of social work we are all clients, some of us are just wandering the Earth without case workers...

Words have consequences. Remember C.A.R.E's letter to the Judiciary Committee in which they based the argument for open records on the opinions of adoption professionals and social workers... Well, guess what? The California organization representing adoption professionals think open records are fine as long as you're 25 and you're mandated an intermediary...

But again, why is 25 the magic number? Because C.A.R.E has not figured out a strategy to deal with the statute that granted disclosure veto power to first parents that was enacted in 1984. 2009 take away 1984 equals 25. Of course, this solves nothing in terms of the disclosure veto, because we can't stop the clock, and everybody knows this. The memo notes that although C.A.R.E. would not accept a CI, Assemblywoman Ma did accept the age change to 25. There is no mention of how this was received by CAAA. My guess is that the language was changed after the meeting with C.A.R.E.'s sign off, and that CAAA found out about it when the language was released. But that's just a guess, what is certain is that the memo does not state if CAAA accepted the change, or what their position will be on the bill as it rolls into Judiciary. So we have the typical adoption reform compromise buck and wing, with C.A.R.E. giving away stuff and not getting anything in return. You still wondering why I don't want these guys negotiating in my interest? These guys couldn't negotiate themselves out of a revolving door...

So there you have the C.A.R.E. way in a nutshell. Adult adoptees aged 18 - 25, go back to your rooms and pack your bags, you're out. CAAA frowned at C.A.R.E. like they were misbehaving chihuahuas, and C.A.R.E. peed. Just a little puddle, but now C.A.R.E. is off to meet the adoption attorneys and the ACLU. Better throw some newspaper on the floor....

But what does this mean, what action can we take? I can only tell you what I am going to do, which is to send communications to Assemblyman Ma's office and the Judiciary Committee outlining my opposition to AB 372 as it has been amended. If an adult adoptee is old enough to serve their country and sacrifice their lives in some souk in Iraq or on some lonely mountain top in Afganistan, then he or she is old enough to access a copy of their birth record. And that's the way I roll....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, for the love of God!!!!

I've already emailed the judiciary committee and I'm on my way to email Fiona Ma, AGAIN.

Here are the email addresses for the judiciary committee and the brief letter I sent them. Feel free to copy/paste and send:,,,,,,,,,

Dear Assemblymembers Feuer, Tran, Brownley, Evans, Jones, Knight, Krekorian, Lieu, Monning & Nielsen,

RE: AB 372 (Amended March 26, 2009)

If an 18 year old can be drafted or enlist into the military and die for his/her country, he/she should be able to have his/her original birth certificate. If a person can drive a vehicle at 16, vote at 18, and drink alcohol at 21 years old, he/she is not "adult" enough until 25 years old?

I am over 25 years old. This age limit wont personally affect me. But, it continues to treat an adopted person, someone who is a legal adult, as a child. I find this "special" treatment unnecessary and degrading.

Thank you.

Here is Fiona Ma's Contact Form:

11:32 AM  
Blogger Being Me said...

Hey BB,
The link to the memo isn't working for me.
Previously emailed the judiciary committee and was disappointed to get messages back that since I'm not in their district I don't get a response.
So I want to figure out where their districts are to see if I have any friends or relatives in their districts that I could enlist.
Thanks for staying on top of this.

Joy and I were visiting Ma's SF office on the 25th unaware of the meeting on the 24th. thbbggggtttt...

12:12 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

Sorry about the link to the memo from C.A.R.E.'s ED, hopefully it should work now.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering why nobody seems to understand the fundamentals of the legislative process. Because of the widely varied influences and legislators themselves, its impossible to pass a bill without compromise. That is how politics work. If you believe an ideal bill that doesn't respect all parties impacted will somehow pass, you are mistaken. If you understand the way the legislative process works and only accept a perfect bill, you are accepting the existing law forever. That makes no sense when even a compromise bill would benefit so many and be a stepping stone to slowly raise the awareness bar. Why sacrifice so many adoptees benefiting to make a point or for some ideology? Why not take whatever you can get through, set the bar higher and go back and raise it again later? That is how the system works. Taking such a strong position is effectively accepting the existing absurd law forever. Why? The legislature and all the opposing forces will hold all adoptees as it is now. Could anyone explain in a logical non-emotional way how to get the ideal bill past the various forces? Thats the kind of strategy needed.


1:09 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:51 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

rp -

I understand the legislative process very well, I've worked on legislative campaigns dealing with a variety of issues, including adoption issues. I've worked on clean adoption records laws that have succeeded. This stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum, and truisms about compromise belong on Hallmark cards with the other cliches...

1. Legislation that amends current law comes to pass because of pressure to change the status quo through the application of focused political will.

2. CARE has absolutely no capacity to exert such political pressure. It has neither the money nor the troops. Although CARE claims to represent the community of adoption, the community itself is deeply fractured over CARE's mission, strategy and tactics. In the end, CARE represents itself, which means it has a profound crisis of legitimacy in negotiating at all.

2. Compromises are forged through negotiations. CARE is negotiating from a position of extreme weakness, and has opened their negotiations by caving on critical points. What will they do if a) their opposition simply doesn't accept their offer, or b) asks for further compromises? They have no place to go but further compromises.

A non-emotional strategy? How about utilizing the basics of political organizing and base-building? How about outreach to the multitude of California adoptees who at this moment have no idea that there is even a bill in play that impacts their lives? That should be step one, a serious and well executed organizing campaign, and only then should an organization claim to speak for adoptees. Otherwise, what yu get is vanity legislation, which is basically what AB 372 is.
You accept the current absurd law until you are in position to change it. Amending it to include even more absurdities just prolongs the crap. If you disagree, please cite a state that has revisited their adoption records law after enacting compromise legislation. It never happens.

If CARE gets some compromise crap passed, that's what it will be for the next couple of decades...

Of course, since none of this happens in a vacuum, adoptees will resort to searchers with access to the Birth Index and get the info they want regardless of the law, by any means necessary, like they already do and always have..

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand "the fundamentals of the legislative process". So why is it, RP that you are so totally wrong when you write, " Because of the widely varied influences and legislators themselves, its impossible to pass a bill without compromise." Thank heavens you are wrong or Alabama, New Hampshire & Maine wouldn't have the clean law that they have. It is not impossible to pass a bill without compromise, just open your eyes and see what has been happening around you. I was a state legislator when the NH bill was passed and I know exactly how the legislative process worked. It wasn't easy but it certainly wasn't impossible. There is no reason on earth for CA to pass compromise legislation. If you are in favor of compromise then you obviously do not think that you are worthy of being treated as an equal among the non adopted population. None of your arguments for compromise hold any water and you need to admit that maybe you are the one who doesn't understand the legislative process.

Janet Allen

4:18 AM  
Blogger Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

The one thing I have understood since I was 18 years old, when I was found by four older siblings I never knew, and had my two birth certificates dumped on the kitchen table at me by my irate adoptive mother, is this: my birth certificate was sealed, falsified, and the State of New York certified the false record of birth as true.

How the fuck does a government do such a thing? How do adoptive parents, with thinking brains, fuck with their adoptee's life facts, not to mention, feelings, like that?

There is NO compromise! I, and all adoptees, have a right to the true facts of our births without the interference of anyone! That includes any numbskull mothers who give birth and get rid of the kid to claim years later they don't want to be known. Stop the bullshit. You give life to a human being, that means you have responsibility to tell the truth, even if you "gave up your parental rights" to raise that child. And the fathers who impregnate ought to be named and held accountable.

What's even more atrocious is that orphans, half-orphans, and older children adopted out of foster care, and children born to married parents but were taken away --- all these "not illegitimate" adoptees are treated the exact same way --- as scumbags. This is America, people! Stop treating us as if we are x-rated whores and their pimps, and retards and cripples and midgets and maggots. We are human beings who deserve respect!

This is a civil right, not a battle over which compromise is best and which one will wait to try again in ten years. Slaves were freed. Period. Women got the right to vote. Period. Was there any compromise in those civil rights? NO.

I had my life torn from me, twice: at the time I was an infant, and again, at age 18. I have been living in hell for the lies and deception of others, for 35 years. Yes, am an enraged. Quit fucking with peoples' vital statistics.

If you had nothing to do with the conception and birth of your child, then your name does not belong on a birth certificate. Period.

If your name IS on a birth certificate and you did not conceive or give birth to that person, then you are a LIAR and a THIEF.

No, to those of you who care to debate forever, go back to the days when women wore chastity belts and their husbands roamed the earth with the key tucked under their belts while they fucked other women. Sounds pretty disgusting. So stop fucking around with our rights.

10:31 PM  

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