Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bad, Worse, Worst: AB 372 limps into Judiciary...

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma released proposed changes for AB 372 this morning, coincident with the announcement that the bill will be heard at the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 28th, 2009. Assemblywoman Ma’s changes represent her office’s assessment of the chances for the C.A.R.E. bill to move forward. It’s not a particularly optimistic memo… Read it here.

The proposed changes would place all California adult adoptees under a blanket default disclosure veto. If a California adult adoptee, over the age of 25, applies for a copy of her original birth certificate, “certified, return receipt letter is sent to the best-match address of the biological parent notifying them of the change in law and allowing them to keep their record confidential by signing an enclosed form and returning to the Department of Health.”

If, after six months, “Should the Department not receive a return receipt, the record shall remain confidential/sealed (per status quo).”

So, if your first mother has moved in the last 25 years, gotten married, left the state, died, or is generally not receiving mail at the same address the DSS has on file, you are SOL.

Wow.

There have been a few comments from C.A.R.E. supporters here on the Funhouse and in other discussions to the effect that the present laws regarding adult adoptee access to California birth records are absurd. You won’t find an argument here. These supporters have maintained that a compromise that allows more adoptees access is better than the present law, even if it codifies the exception of chunks of other adult adoptees. That’s debatable. The changes suggested by Asm. Ma, however, actually make it likely that fewer adult adoptees will be able to access their birth records from the state. It’s difficult for me to see how C.A.R.E. can support these changes even under its limited mission.

Under the current laws, if you want your birth records, you petition the courts. The court order up your records, take a look, and either releases your records or not. If there is a disclosure veto filed, then chances are slim to nil that you’ll get them. But if there is no disclosure veto the judge has the discretion to release the records.

Under the proposed changes the adoptee fills out an application with the State Registrar. The Department of Health sends out a letter into the aether to a twenty-five year old address. If they don’t get a reply, or if the letter is undeliverable, they have no discretion, they reject the application.

How is this an improvement over the status quo?

What is C.A.R.E.’s rationale for supporting AB 372?

6 Comments:

Blogger Addie Pray said...

I would really like to hear that explanation too. I cannot see how anybody that claims to speak for the rights of adoptees could support this. It is a step backward.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you and the negative folks make suggestions that are helpful rather than being so sarcastic. You know as well as anyone that problems are found and fixed and bills are fine tuned constantly.

The problems with the 6 months and the cases where the birth parent has died, changed their name, just lost etc.. are understood. I'm planning on making a constructive suggestion myself. Why don't you do the same.

I suspect you are intelligent and realize its just plain necessary to find approaches that work but don't spook the legislators. There is 1 chance in billion they would pass an "unfettered access" bill as CalOpen keeps harping on. The issue isn't AB372, its the CA constitution, the 1977 privacy act statutes and the AD908 forms agreed by CA.

The only way to get a so called "clean bill" is to reverse the Constitutional privacy, reverse the 1977 Privacy Act statutes and somehow deal with the contract liability risks of the AD908s. No legislator would sign a bill unless these were dealt with. If you really want unfettered access, go rally a ballot initiative as only a bill like AB372 will ever get through.

That is a fact and has nothing to do with CARE, Fiona Ma, or any of the CARE people. They are all trying to help adoptees rights so why don't you make sensible suggestions. Everyone who has attacked them personally should be ashamed. Its downright sick.

I can't help but wonder if anger at birth mothers is behind all the lashing out. Its so irrational, there must be some deep emotional issue driving the bizarre behavior.

Don't give me the adoptees are second rate citizens because of the birth records access as its not an apples and apples comparison. Non-adoptee birth records don't carry the privacy issue which is tied to the constitution and statutes and that dumb AD908 form. That makes the documents fundamentally different so the rights issue is not the same. That means adoptees can't use that argument while being genuine so hey are not second class but identical to anyone else in rights and its the records that differ.

I also keep hearing that AB372 is a birth parents bill. That is silly since its trying to move the bar away from the current ridiculous over-protection and taking it to only the .6% that seem to want privacy. Since 100% get privacy now, trying to move to the smallest percentage possible under the privacy laws means this is clearly an adoptee bill. Why all the irrational behavior from the group you belong? Any theories? I'm not adopted nor a member of CARE or any other adoption group. This behavior has really struck me as bizarre from people who seem otherwise intelligent and educated. Its like there is some big neural group think. It reminds me of the Zimbardo guard/prisoner experiment at Stanford that uncovered the dark side.

Don't give me the "not intellectually honest BS" because everyone working on the bill is trying to fix the 6 month/receipt problem.

How about looking for problems with AB372 and language fixes that won't conflict. I can think of a number of ways to address the 6 month return receipt problem. I'm going to suggest a few and hope they work. I get the sense that there is some dark force pulling you into the swirling irrational negative storm. Why negative and dark rather than positive? It works better.

5:34 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

I've been told by Stephenie Williams that CARE doesn't care what I think and that since I have my information already that I don't have "skin in the game" and therefore what I think is immaterial. I suppose I could send them helpful suggestions anonymously but that's not the way I roll.

I don't belong to any groups, I'm a freelance bastard at this point.

You should also be sophisticated enough to know that bills are written to encompass the wishes of widely disparate interests. Nobody expects everybody to jump up and sing Kumbaya, what's it to you if I blog on the sidelines? Do you have a pathological aversion to conflict? Perhaps you should avoid politics.

What you are hearing and seeing is the response of people who feel locked out of a process that will impact their lives on a very deep level. People who've been told they have no skin in the game by the state, and then CARE.

My criticism of CARE? They haven't done the groundwork to claim they represent CARE's million adoptees. They presumptuously decided to pursue a legislative campaign with no base of grassroots support. They have not outreached to the million of adoptees they're actions will impact. They should be ashamed.

As far as first moms, I get along fine with them. "Birthmother" is a class distinction endowed by the state. I think everyone enjoys the same rights as every one else. No more, no less.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been told by Stephenie Williams that CARE doesn't care what I think and that since I have my information already that I don't have "skin in the game" and therefore what I think is immaterial. I suppose I could send them helpful suggestions anonymously but that's not the way I roll.
I have read comments you made in your Blog and commenting on others that were very likely quite hurtful to people that were read by their children and family. I have not met Stephanie but a close friend has worked with her and she is a smart nice lady who means well. I am aware of her taking input from various people including me indirectly. If the small group of people that you at least appear to be associated with weren't so nasty, I know any good smart input would be considered.

I'm sure you know about human nature. Once all those negative things were said online readable by children and family ( e.g. like the whole smoking something - crack smokers pictures etc.), its not surprising you would get the feedback you mention.

I don't know what your relationship with the group of Bloggers and commenters who are so nasty but it appears you are part of the group whether that's accurate or not. Your Blog's have been held up by some of them as the leader of their group. I'm sure you can see why someone like myself who doesn't know you or them would notice the association. They have held you out a number of times. That has given you a bad wrap even though it seemed to me you became more sensible. People just don't like it when someone obviously cares and who is willing to speak out but doesn't to so constructively. I'm aware of one person that is a fairly high profile anti-AB372 person who is so embarrassed and disgusted by some of the behavior, they don't want to speak up anymore on AB372 or participate with CALOpen. This is because it associates the person with such bad behavior that they don't want to be known as part of that. That sounds to me like high school MySpace like behavior. Its quite sad on such an important issue. I think you could contribute somehow and just accept whatever will happen with B372 bu do your best to get it tweaked to be optimal give the privacy reality.

I don't belong to any groups, I'm a freelance bastard at this point.

You should also be sophisticated enough to know that bills are written to encompass the wishes of widely disparate interests. Nobody expects everybody to jump up and sing Kumbaya, what's it to you if I blog on the sidelines? Do you have a pathological aversion to conflict? Perhaps you should avoid politics.
You may not be part of any group but your online association and participating such that it looks like you are all buddies behaving badly. You may not be but it looks that way and perception is part of reality.

Of course bills are always a that way but we are all stuck with that. If one wants to move the laws in better directions, its always polluted but better is better.

I really don't care about conflict but I'm rather fascinated and amazed to watch a group of people passionate about the laws being unfair and seeing them self destruct themselves. Its sad and I'd like to see people like yourself use your intellect and knowledge to help an issue I know you care about. I can see why its so hard to change the unfair laws because not only is there the politics of he legislature but the politics, egos and emotions of the very people affected who cannot even pull together. As I see it, nothing will ever change and the victims role some of this group lives with will just live on. Many people just live to propagate their own little victim's role so they can always blame others. I can see that here in a big way. I'm curious if its something emerging from the adoption trauma. I'm curious if if you can rise above all those victims and find a way to help them.
What you are hearing and seeing is the response of people who feel locked out of a process that will impact their lives on a very deep level. People who've been told they have no skin in the game by the state, and then CARE.
They are not told that, they are just playing victim reading into it or setting themselves up. That groups mantra is "Somebody else did it too me". If you Blog angry stuff, you will create a self fulfilling victims prophecy. I suspect some of those people have built their lives around this and simply can't let go as its now their identity. Its fascinating as many of the people are quite smart. That victim's identity and the group think has created a monster. I'm curious if you can break away from it.I'm sure you know that many of the negative bloggers have constructed lives and identities around this model. Its sad they can't turn positive, help in whatever way they can, accept whatever that is, put their ego aside and use it to break away from the victims role.
My criticism of CARE? They haven't done the groundwork to claim they represent CARE's million adoptees. They presumptuously decided to pursue a legislative campaign with no base of grassroots support. They have not outreached to the million of adoptees they're actions will impact. They should be ashamed.
No you should be ashamed as you just can't let go and be nice. You are reading into their words whatever supports your position. Its sad.
As far as first moms, I get along fine with them. "Birthmother" is a class distinction endowed by the state. I think everyone enjoys the same rights as every one else. No more, no less.
That's good. Some of these people can't say anything positive or even neutral. Oh well. Be good and think positive.

10:06 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

Ok, constructive criticism. Gotcha.

1. Go learn the methodologies of social change movements. There is no need to reinvent the wheel on this, there are ample resources available.
Saul Alinksy's "Rules for Radicals" is a good place to start, as is Kim Klien's "Fund Raising for Social Change." Randy Shaw's two books, "The Activist's Handbook" and "Recliaming America" are also good.
Alinsky has some very good stuff relating to "niceness" that you might find interesting and useful, anon...

2. Build the base of support that will sustain your effort to effect the change you want. Take your time. Create opportunities for leadership development.

3. Become political. Politics will be essential to achieving your goals. Participate in other campaigns and see how they succeed and fail. Learn the language, build relationships.

4. Become media savvy. Learn when and when not to do inappropriate things to get attention. Be fearless.

5. Create an achievable strategy for victory with measurable benchmarks. Begin by making small achievements that build to a larger goal. For instance, the goal may be to pressure legislators to make significant changes in attitude or to statute, as in gay marriage. Work on the local level first, get local jurisdictions to affirm your position first. This will get you media, and if you're successful, it will build your momentum and membership. My favorite example is before you try and save the world, go to the city and try and have a stop sign installed on a dangerous intersection.

I could go on and on, with PowerPoint... How to talk to legislators, how to craft message, how to keep message discipline, etc... To litigate or legislate, what's the case law? How to create an inclusive strategic planning process that creates buy in and builds a team.

I met with folks many of whom are now in CARE last year and spoke about a number of things I've mentioned here. It didn't seem to sink in, except for my observation that if I had it to do over again I'd engage a lobbyist. That they liked, evidently. So see, I have helped CARE, nicely.

If people are drawn to the stuff I'm writing it's because they're hungry for someone to talk to them directly and bluntly about what is going on. I'm not representing an organization so I don't have to be diplomatic or nice, if you will. People are free to agree with me or disagree me. You know folks who are fed up with the opposition, well folks who initially supported or were sympathetic to CARE contact me regularly (more and more so, lately) complaining that dissent is not tolerated there. They've been shut out. Things, as they say, are tough all over...

As far as getting personal, well, my favorite quote from last year's presidential race was from Barack, "I didn't throw the first punch, but I will throw the last." I'll just leave it at that and you can draw you own conclusions.

I don't subscribe to victimhood. My entire life as an activist in adoption issue has been based on the premise of adoptee empowerment. It's a tough go, because so many adoptees are inculcated with the notion that they must be quiet; grateful; accept that they are normal only if they pretend they aren't adopted; accept that they are normal only if they feel pathologically impacted by their adoption; accept less-than. So many different flavors of Koolaid...

But it's getting late, so I'm going to stop musing. If I were you I'd stop worrying about me being nice. You can't control what people feel. There is a program for that...

1:23 AM  
Blogger BB Church said...

Oh, I forgot the most important positive thing I can say about all of this. And it is really really important.

If you are an adoptee you must DEMAND that folks leading you have the skills and training to do so. They must be accountable to YOU. Their intentions may be the best, but without the wherewithal to succeed, you cannot expect a good outcome. They are answerable to you, and no one else.

1:46 AM  

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