Friday, April 17, 2009


Someone posting anonymously commented on one of my earlier blogs: "It would be very sad if a small group of misguided activists blinded by their unwillingness to “Be Open” caused yet another failure in the healing of the many deserving adoptees."

I'm not going to go too deeply into the conflation of "healing" and the enactment of compromise legislation. But I am going to respond to the main contention in this remark, that a small group of activists, misguided or not, can derail C.A.R.E.'s effort. What does it say about C.A.R.E.'s capacity as an effective organization seeking political change if a small group of folks can cause their failure? Doesn't this point to a failure on C.A.R.E.'s part?

Personally, I think all the major national adoption reform organizations have problems with the issues of accountability and legitimacy. Even ones that I agree with on ideological matters. None of them have mounted serious membership campaigns, none of them have initiated significant outreach campaigns to reach adoptees outside the small circle that develop an interest in the issues at play and search the organizations out. All of the major organizations make claims in the name of vast numbers of adoptees who don't even know that these organizations exist, let alone that they're lobbying to change laws in their name. So C.A.R.E. is not the lone bad actor in all of this.

Nevertheless, if C.A.R.E. is going to blame me, or anyone else, for a failure for their legislative program to gain traction they are missing a valuable educational experience. In other words, they need to look in the mirror. If they can't overcome the opposition of some lone adoptee blogger, then it's not the lone adoptee blogger's fault. It's not even a matter of my ideas being better or worse than theirs. It's that they have a very low capacity.

And if I threaten their effort, how are they going to fare against California's Department of Social Services, which considers AB 372 a hostile bill, or the ACLU (whichever chapter, northern or southern) which can rally thousands of members if it feels the need? How many members can C.A.R.E. rally?

I'm not even going to argue about rights, needs, or law. Whichever strategy an organization decides to follow in California is going to take a maximum effort. What surprises me about C.A.R.E. was how precipitous their effort was, no organizing component at all. The net result: they are threatened by individual bloggers and other "small groups". What do you think the lesson is? That I'm evil (again, debatable, but ultimately beside the point)? Or that C.A.R.E can't even handle small threats to its claims of legitimacy?


Blogger BD said...

The fix is in on this BB. When CARE is defeated, and I think it will be rather easily, BB Church, me, Bastard Nation, CalOpen, AAAFC, whoever, will don the goat suit and be blamed for CARE's problems.

I absolutely agree with you on the outreach and membership building criticism. I have been very frustrated over the years with the refusal of people to get out there and recruit the "masses" because we'd have to step into search and reunion territory, or so the story goes. Well, so what. I dont care who supports us, as long as we grow and break balls. There is an unreasonable liberal fear of power.

8:38 AM  
Blogger BB Church said...

Yeah, well, whatevs... the kid in the crowd gets cred for shouting it out, but the Emperor was the guy strutting around in his birthday suit...

The dynamics of political orgs are simple and Darwinian: grow or die.

CARE's had a tough time because their "sausage-making" legislative strategy produces messages that are inconsistent with their overall message. The memo from Assemblywoman Ma is a "tell" that they haven't come up with a means to overcome the legal obstacles they need to surmount to achieve even a modest improvement in existing law. All they can come up with to reconcile this is "Trust us!" which is the worst political message in the world. If you have to say it, it means people don't trust you, and it tends to make people more suspicious than they were before.

I can't take credit for any of this, I met in Portland with some of these folks and came away with the understanding that they were going to do groundwork for a couple of years before they went to the legislature. I was reconciled to a compromise bill that was backed by a solid effort. I wouldn't have supported it, but if it looked sound politically I wouldn't waste a lot of time opposing it either.

I've been told that nobody in CARE cares what I think. I've been told that I am misinformed. Again, whatevs...

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, BB.


6:42 PM  
Blogger BB Church said...

See, I really don't moderate comments here...

9:41 PM  

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