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Monday, March 10, 2014

A New Alert Has Been Issued: Catholics, Ask Governor Christie to SIGN S873/A1259

Another guest post from Jenn, Susan's daughter.

I became a Catholic the year after I graduated from college, while I was serving for a year with the Franciscans in Wilmington, Delaware. Moved by my experience working with the poor, the disenfranchised, the migrant, I saw only the beauty of the church during that year. Several years later, when by chance I met and sat with Maria Esperanza, a woman whose sainthood cause was opened at the St. Francis Cathedral in Metuchen, New Jersey in 2010, and who has been described by the Catholic Review of Baltimore as "a Venezuelan woman believed to have seen 31 apparitions of Mary who spread worldwide a message of family reconciliation and fraternal unity that she said Mary relayed to her," I deepened a faith that I've continued to practice these past 15 years.

 
Me, with son Joseph Rocco, after his baptism three years ago

So it is especially upsetting to me to see an "ALERT" issued on the webpage of the New Jersey Catholic Conference stating "Ask Governor Christie to Veto S799/A1406," which, though incorrectly referred to here (the bill currently pending is S873/A1259), is the Adoptees' Birthright Bill, just passed in the NJ Assembly and Senate, and waiting for Governor Christie's signature. I read through the Statement by Patrick Brannigan in Opposition to S799 from March 3, 2010, posted underneath the ALERT, because I am a person who likes to consider others' views and make sure that my own are rooted in the truth. There are so many things in that statement that I would like to address that I will have to do it over several posts, but here is what I need to address first (all quotes are from this Statement, which pulls heavily from Mills, in which, apparently, "the court reviewed at length the interests that are involved in placing adoption records under seal"):

"The child is the most important party to the adoption"   - Yes! I agree. Nothing should come above protecting the rights of the child.

"The State has the obligation to protect the interests of this voiceless party" - Yes! I agree again. The child placed for adoption has no voice. Thank goodness so many adult adoptees have bravely spoken up in past years to let us know what the interests of the adopted child are. For who else, other than someone who has lived adoption, can speak to these interests? Adult adoptees have told us that adoptees don't necessarily need reunions (though I have learned from my mother's experience that reunions can be sweet, and healing, and beautiful) but rather the right to their own birth certificate, and the right to navigate those deeply personal relationships without State interference. That is what the law currently awaiting Governor Christie's signature provides. It is just and certainly protects "this voiceless party," the child adoptee who will some day grow up, with rights long denied. If the adoptee chooses never to search that, of course, is fine. This is a rights bill, not a reunions bill.
My mom as a child, the "voiceless party" in adoption.
Now an adult, she doesn't need, or want, the State's "protection." 

"[Sealed records] protect the child from any possible stigma of illegitimacy which, though fading, may still exist ... "   - Wait! What? This is the only argument being used to say that sealed records are in the best interest of the adopted child? Is anyone truly still thinking of adopted children as "illegitimate"? Adoptees have spoken out strongly in favor of NOT sealing records. Though some adults may choose not to search, they certainly don't feel that they need the State's protection from any "stigma." There must be some other argument showing how sealed records benefit adoptees. Apparently, though, there is not. All other arguments cited in this Statement are for the benefit of some other member in the triad of adoption -- and I don't find them any more credible then those purporting to look out for the adopted child. But more on that tomorrow.

As a Catholic, I would like the New Jersey Catholic Conference, New Jersey Right to Life, and Governor Christie (who is Catholic, and who cited the position of New Jersey Catholics when he last conditionally vetoed this bill in 2011) to know I do believe that the most important party in an adoption is the child, and that the State does have an obligation to protect this voiceless party. The way to do that is by encouraging Governor Christie to sign S873/A1259, the Adoptees Birthright Bill. Or, if you are Governor Christie, by simply signing the bill yourself.


**Similar bills (for adoptees' rights to their original birth certificates) have been supported by the Catholic Conference in other states.



a Venezuelan woman believed to have seen 31 apparitions of Mary who spread worldwide a message of family reconciliation and fraternal unity that she said Mary relayed to her. - See more at: http://catholicreview.org/article/life/metuchen-opens-sainthood-cause-for-venezuelan-mystic-who-died-in-us#sthash.oExFuRF6.dpuf
Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, a Venezuelan woman believed to have seen 31 apparitions of Mary who spread worldwide a message of family reconciliation and fraternal unity that she said Mary relayed to her. - See more at: http://catholicreview.org/article/life/metuchen-opens-sainthood-cause-for-venezuelan-mystic-who-died-in-us#sthash.oExFuRF6.dpuf
Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini, a Venezuelan woman believed to have seen 31 apparitions of Mary who spread worldwide a message of family reconciliation and fraternal unity that she said Mary relayed to her. - See more at: http://catholicreview.org/article/life/metuchen-opens-sainthood-cause-for-venezuelan-mystic-who-died-in-us#sthash.oExFuRF6.dpuf

3 comments:

  1. Hi Jenn (Susan),
    First of all, my thoughts and wishes are with you and your family. I only came across this blog recently (less than a year), but in that time, I've been heartened by Susan's voice, advocacy, strength, love and dignity. I sincerely wish her all the strength, love and focus on her own battle at this time.

    I'm also hoping that NJ (and other states) will update their civil/human rights laws so that adopted people are treated with more equality. Thank you, Jenn, for helping us all continue.

    I'm also confused about the Bill that you mention above (I think that was an old, proposed bill from a few years ago). I believe the current, proposed bill that we WANT passed in NJ is the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill (S873 / A1259).

    So, our focus is now on S873 and A1259. The NJ House and Senate passed them on 2/27/14 and we are asking Gov. Christie to sign it and pass it now. It's a more equal bill than the old proposed bill from 2010.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/302224103259275/http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/new-jersey-is-one-signature-away-from-equality-for-adoptees/

    Thank you, Jenn, for continuing Susan's advocacy and being strong for her. My deepest wishes for her health and all of your family right now.

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  2. Hi Kym. Thank you so much for your comments. I will relay your thoughts to my mom (I am at her house now, so that will be easy!). I, too, am heartened by her voice, advocacy, strength, love, and dignity.

    Thank you, also, for pointing out my error on the bill. You are absolutely right, and I've changed it in the post! Strangely, the 'ALERT' issued on the New Jersey Catholic Conference website has the old bill numbers, which is what I originally referenced (and what I've thus kept in when talking about their ALERT in the post).

    Thank you again, Kym, for reading my mom's blog and for your comments tonight.

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  3. I do not understand how the Catholics in NJ are so invested in trampling the rights of the adopted. As a former Catholic who grew up with nuns and priests I liked, I find this opposition so troubling, so immoral, so sinful and wrong. What is wrong with these people?

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