Saturday, April 29, 2006

BAD NEWS IN MASSACHUSETTS

If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has its way, adopted people as a group will be divided into three distinct categories with regards to unconditional access to their original birth certificates.

1) ADOPTEES WHO ARE NOT YET BORN will be able to get their obcs when they reach the age of 18 or 21 - that is, in the year 2024 or 2027.
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2) ADOPTEES WHO WERE BORN BEFORE 1974 will have unconditional access to their obcs.

3) ADOPTEES BORN BETWEEN 1974 AND 2006 will continue to be treated under the current law which does NOT allow original birth certificates to be issued to adoptees. These adoptees’ original birth documents will remain sealed to them. Inside sources report talk of setting up a passive registry to enable some adoptees born between 1974 and 2006 to make contact with a birth parent.

Bastard Nation remains firm in its support for the original bill, SB 959, sponsored by Senator Fargo.This bill was patterned after the New Hampshire law that passed in January, 2005. All adopted adults would be able to request and receive, without any conditions, their original birth certificates. Contact preference forms, attached to obcs, would be available for birth parents to express their personal wishes concerning contact.

Bastard Nation opposes any bill that does not treat all adopted adults equally.

HISTORY OF THE BILL

A hearing on the SB 959 was held way back in October, 2005, by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. An overflowing room of supporters from all over the commonwealth and indeed, all over the country testified to the excellence of SB 9xx. The Committee did not act upon the bill then. Rather, they voted to table it for further work.

The deadline for the initial work session to end was March 15, 2006. The Committee asked for and was granted an extension until May 11th .

While the actual bill with its changes has not been made public yet, inside sources reveal that:





SB 959 IS NOT THE SAME BILL ANYMORE. IT’S ORIGINAL INTENT HAS BEEN OBLITERATED.

Bastard Nation does not ever adhere to the policy of “something is better than nothing.” We know better!

ANALYSIS

I. Prospective-Only Clauses

Bastard Nation opposes all "prospective-only" clauses. A prospective -only clause separates out those adoptees NOT YET BORN and gives them the right to access their obcs upon reaching the age of maturity. - earliest year would be 2027. The rights of all adoptees born before the arbitrary date are totally ignored by any such clause. Prospective only clauses are discriminatory against all adopted persons, adults and children, living in the Commonwealth today

Prospective -only clauses are the latest means of RESTRICTIONS in a long line of restrictions placed on adopted adults’ ability to access their original birth records. It appears that legislators will resort to almost any excuse rather than give adopted men and women of today their original birth certificates without conditions.

One of the dangers of "Prospective-only" clauses is not what is in the bill. The insidiousness lies in what is NOT in the bill and that makes it an insult to all adoptees. What happens to all the other adopted people in the state? They are not equally represented in any bill containing a prospective-only clause.

Prospective only bills allow legislators to avoid making a decision about the rights of today’s adopted adults. Once a prospective-bill becomes a law, we know that the true civil and human rights of adult adoptees will not be addressed anytime soon. "Prospective-only bills" make it possible for legislators to erroneously think that they’ve really done a good deed for adoptees and can now in good conscience put the issue behind them.

A "prospective-only" clause is a “feel-good” escape for legislators who don’t want to face up to facts and recognize the rights of all adoptees. These clauses are very dangerous! They are too easy for legislators to agree with and they are too easy for other states to copy.

II. SEPARATING RIGHTS INTO TIERS

Massachusetts is about to create three different tiers of adoptees. What rights adoptees will be given will be determined upon arbitrary dates of birth.

All citizens must be treated equally under the laws and that includes all adopted adults. A civil right and a human right is one that all citizens of a state or country can enjoy equally. Civil and human rights can only be ALL OR NOTHING. Anything in between is not a civil or human right.

Massachusetts is taking away the civil and human right of all adoptees to being treated in the same way as all other citizens of the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts is discriminating against adoptees solely on the basis of the circumstances surrounding their births.

3. REGISTRIES

Setting up registries implies that adopted adults want access to their original birth certificates in order to search and locate their birth parents.
Searches and reunions are an entirely separate issue from being able to access one’s own birth documents that are being withheld from them by the state.

Adopted adults know that the state has finished its job once they have reached maturity and blend in with the rest of the citizens of the state. The Commonwealth must recognize the equality of adopted adults. It cannot set up arbitrary restrictions upon the rest of its citizens in order for them to get their own birth certificates and so must not do such thing to adoptees. Anything less than being on a par with all citizens is an injustice to all adoptees. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Creating a registry is an insult to all adults who were adopted as children. It is just one more restriction that is made because legislators do not want to do the right thing and allow all adopted adults to access their original birth certificates in the same way as all citizens. Setting up a registry is just one more attempt by the state to withhold, as long as they can, original birth documents from the very people for whom they were created - adoptees.
Anita Walker Field

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