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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why does America lag behind on adoptee rights?

"The closed records adoption system was a violation of the human right to know oneself. ... To have birth rights stripped away is utterly immoral and wrong."

Can you imagine a US government entity making such a pronouncement anytime soon?  Unfortunately, that scenario is improbable, given that the vast majority of states in America still prohibit adult adoptees from accessing their own legal documents of birth.  Yet this conclusion from a comprehensive study just completed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies gives me hope.  Progress in America is agonizingly slow, but I'm confident that injustices in the adoption system will one day be recognized here as well.

I have no doubt that if a scientific survey of adult adoptees were to be conducted in the US, the results would be similar to those compiled by the Australian study.  The research there included the input of 823 adopted individuals, and you can read the report for yourself here.  Recurring often throughout the paper are issues relating to identity and belonging, whether the adoptive home was loving and secure or not.  The consensus across the board seemed to be "that everyone has the right to know who they are and where they come from."

According to the study, almost nine out of every ten adoptees surveyed said they had tried to uncover information about their original families, although some kept their searches secret for fear of hurting the feelings of their adoptive parents.  I was struck, as I read through the adoptee comments, how closely their thoughts mirror those of adoptees who are currently active in the adoption reform movement, or who recently commented on the New York Times Motherlode article entitled "Adoption, Destiny and Magical Thinking."

"Access to my information is my right, not my privilege," says one Australian adoptee, objecting to the fees she must pay to try and secure information about her own history.

"Why should I have to pay for something that's my right to know?" says another.

"That I had to pay for my own information disgusts me," another comments.

In reacting to the contact vetoes that original mothers had been permitted to place, blocking the release of information, one adoptee asks, "What makes her better than me, in terms of being able to know who I am?"  Another adoptee frustrated with the veto system adds, "We have moved forward as a society enough that we should allow adults to deal with adult situations."

According to the Australian study, respondents believed strongly that they had the right to know their own genetic identities, "not just for themselves, but also for their children and grandchildren."  The fees they were required to pay to government agencies to access information about themselves angered many, as did the veto system active in some districts.

One interesting finding of the research project was that "adopted individuals appear to have been the 'gatekeepers' of other people's needs/expectations in the adoption circle."  In other words, many adoptees feel as if they must protect the feelings of their adoptive parents, who sometimes feel threatened by the existence of the natural family.  They also feel as if they need to be extra sensitive to the feelings of the natural family.  What then, are they to do with their own needs and feelings?

As one adoptee astutely observes, "The loudest voices and agenda setting come from relinquishing and adoptive parents."  The report acknowledges that most adoptees feel as if their experiences and feelings count for little, especially in the matter of adoption policy.

One adoptee laments the fact that many of the same mistakes in adoption and now reproductive technology are still being made, because people are not paying attention to the adult adoptee perspective.

"I think the underlying root of the problem is the baby-supply industry.  The same issues are coming up with donor conception, surrogacy, 'selling' children on the internet, especially in America.  I'll never know who my father is and I'm seeing people put in similar situations where they will never know who their father is.  They're told, but you've been given life, you're better off because we want you.  It's about the needs of the parents, not the child."

In conducting studies like this one, in which the adult adoptee perspective is sought and valued, the Australian government is making a concerted effort to come to terms with adoption abuses of the past and to improve the practice of adoption for the future.  In America, an overwhelming majority of those who actually live adoption -- adoptees, original and adoptive parents -- believe that adult adoptees should have access to their own original birth certificates.  But powerful ideological and special interest lobbies that profit from the practice of adoption continue to drown out their voices, in spite of all the compelling evidence that sealed records do not support the best interest of the child.

But times are changing and more and more people are speaking out.  Adoptees are objecting to being left out of policy discussions, and they are objecting to a media portrayal that too often glamorizes adoption without addressing the ethical challenges that need to be confronted.  I hope to live to see the day when one of our government bodies proclaims that "the closed adoption system is a violation of the human right to know oneself."  It has already happened in Australia.  How long will it take America, the long-admired Land of the Free, to catch up?

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adoption and Magical Thinking

There is a very interesting discussion going on this week over at the New York Times website Motherlode in response to an article entitled Adoption, Destiny and Magical Thinking.   You can read the article and the subsequent comments here.  The centerpiece of the story is a study showing that many adoptive parents feel that fate, destiny, or the will of God has played a part in bringing their adopted children to them.

The story struck a nerve, as many of the comments show.  As a mature adoptee, I concur with many others in saying that entirely too much magical thinking occurs in the world of adoption.  When cold, real facts about adoption are not confronted, the adopted child is likely to suffer because she learns early  on that she must keep some of her deepest feelings to herself.  If her placement in her adoptive family was "meant to be," then how can she freely express her conflicted feelings or explain the desire she may feel to know and understand her original family?

The comments to the article are powerful, and I'll share some of them here.  An adoptive parent provides this eloquent perspective:

"When our cherished adopted children are young, we can hug them tightly every night and repeat the story of the magical journey that brought us together.  But no matter how much we love them, and no matter how steadfast our belief in our shared destiny remains, we need to prepare for a future in which magical thinking is no match for the reality of an independent child with critical thinking skills.

Adoptive parents are only one third of the adoption triad.  It may be best to consider the perspectives of the other people involved, as fate and destiny are in the eye of the beholder."

I love this writer's statement that "magical thinking is no match for the reality of an independent child with critical thinking skills."  Most adopted children do think about their original families once they are able to comprehend how most babies become a part of the family unit.  And as one adoptee writes, "Even children in very loving adoptive families must confront the fact that their birthmother decided, for whatever reason, to relinquish them, and no amount of "magical thinking" can wish that very real pain away."

Separating a child from her mother often causes intense pain for the relinquishing parent, as many original mothers have come forward to tell us.  And the fact that she has been relinquished often causes pain for the adoptee who allows herself to explore that part of her past.  Naturally, these mothers and surrendered children as adults often feel a need to reconcile their feelings about each other, and they should not be prevented from doing so by archaic state laws that obstruct so many and "protect" a tiny minority.

I cannot tell you how much I resent the law that tells me, as an adult, that I cannot explore my own genealogy.  I know my original mother's identity, and my original father has long been deceased.  The adoption agency knows his name but will not share it with me.  Who in the world is there left to hurt?  As some adoptees who are thwarted in searching for knowledge about their own history say, "I feel as if I were born in a file cabinet."  Talk about magical thinking!  Denial is forced upon many of us, whether denial is a natural coping mechanism for us or not.

What many adoptees find when they do discover their biological relatives is that the stories they were told don't quite fit with reality.  One commenter who was able to find her original family shares the story that the relinquishing parents had requested pictures and updates but had never received them.

"I do think of my adoptive parents as my parents, and I don't blame them for anything," she writes.  "But they and other adoptive parents would have benefited from a framework of thinking about adoption that was less adoptive parent-focused and more empathetic towards birthparents."

And as another adoptee says, "Bring in any child into your home with love and compassion, but do not strip them of their sense of self or identity."  The adopted child comes into a family with its own DNA and its own genetic predisposition.  As one commenter says, "She is not a Cabbage Patch doll."

For me, the problem with adoption is that for too long, it has been defined by adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and adoptive parents.  Many of those entities promote "magical thinking" in order to sell adoption.  The voices of the original parents and the adoptees themselves have, in many cases, been silenced.  I'll give you an example.  The adoption agency that won't reveal my original father's name to me and that has stood on the sidelines for the past 30 years as adoptees have lobbied for equal rights in New Jersey, does not have one adult adoptee on its board -- just attorneys, hospital executives and social work "experts."

The result of all of this is that many adoptees become angry -- and then determined to change the antiquated laws that certainly don't promote a child's best interest.  I want to make it very clear that I am not angry with my adoptive parents, whom I loved, nor am I angry with the original family I've been prevented from knowing.  I am angry with an unfair system that prevents full-grown adults from knowing their own genetic history for no good reason.

Not one legal document has ever been produced to show that relinquishing parents were promised confidentiality.  Presumably, adoptees always had the right to petition the courts for their records if they could show "good cause."  So how could any surrendering parent have ever expected that she would remain forever unknown to her offspring?  The opposition's arguments are ludicrous, especially given statistics that show the vast majority of relinquishing parents are open to contact.  It would seem that the adoption industry opposes giving full-grown adults the equal treatment under the law to secure their own birth certificates for one reason, so they can continue to promote the "magical thinking" that sells adoption.

I'll save the most potent comment about "magical thinking" for last:

 As an adoptee, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard and been told magical things such as "she loved you so much she gave you away" and "you were chosen." Spin, rationalization and magical thinking are quite the trends in adoption.

One could argue that engaging in magical thinking allows adoptive parents to avoid acknowledging the very real, and rather unethical, aspects of the adoption industry. If one believes it is fate or a higher being that brought a child to you, it is much easier to ignore such facts as 1) every single state government falsifies the legally-recognized birth certificates of adoptees so that that adoptive parents are listed as the natural parents; 2) the heavily promoted open adoption agreements are not legally enforceable in any state; and 3) adoption agencies are allowed to charge thousands upon thousands of dollars to transfer a human being from his or her natural family to other people. 

Something tells me that those checks written by adoptive parents while obtaining a child are not made out to "Fate and Destiny." Those checks are written out to a government or private agency in exchange for a human being. As such, the real danger with the magical thinking of adoptive parents is that adoptees are often expected to buy into it. As an adoptee, I can tell you that the healthiest thing for adoptees is to, at the very least, actually be allowed to live an existence grounded in reality--not magical thoughts and fake birth certificates.

Adoptive parents, I know you love your children, just as mine loved me.  For that reason, please join us in the state-by-state efforts to restore adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificates.  When adoptees are treated like second-class citizens, the entire institution of adoption is diminished.   Sealed records are ludicrous, insulting and unnecessary, and they do not serve your children well.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shading the Truth to Ease the Fears of Adoptive Parents

I recently had a conversation with one of my daughter's closest friends, who had struggled with infertility for several years before becoming pregnant.  As we talked, she related that she and her husband had briefly considered adoption -- both yearned for children, and both were hurting because they so badly wanted to begin building a family.

While she saw the merits of open adoption from the beginning, her husband was wary and initially favored a closed arrangement -- he was afraid that the child might feel more loyalty to the biological parents than to them.

While such fear and insecurity is totally understandable in a couple who has struggled to conceive and who want desperately to become parents, it is a fear and insecurity that needs to be addressed directly by adoption professionals, and here is where many who negotiate adoptions fail so miserably.

Research about adoption shows clearly that secrets never serve the best interest of an adopted child.  An adopted infant has two sets of parents, and each set contributes to the child's unique disposition and personality.  Pretending that the original parents don't exist or negating their importance is a disservice to the original parents, for sure, but it is also a grave disservice to the adopted child and the adoptive parents.  Building a family through adoption is not the same as building a family biologically.  Certain challenges must be confronted and met in order to serve the best interests of the child.

Instead of educating prospective adoptive parents about those realities, too many adoption brokers cater to the adopting parents' understandable fears and insecurities.  Consider this excerpt from a booklet for hopeful adoptive parents issued by the New Jersey State Bar Association:

"While open adoption is a legal option in some states, it is not legally enforceable in New Jersey.  In other words, while adoptive parents may agree to permit some form of contact between the child and the birth parents, they are not legally bound by these promises, even if they are made in writing."

Another section reads: "In New Jersey all records relating to adoption proceedings ... are sealed by the court clerk, and may not be opened to inspection or copying without a court order, which almost never occurs."

So adoption attorneys go out of their way to assure prospective adoptive parents that they needn't have any contact with original parents -- ever.  They have nothing to say about the fact that most adult adoptees feel they have a right to know who they actually are and where they come from.

Adoption attorneys have a vested interest in reassuring prospective adoptive parents, the paying customer.  But are they really helping these parents for the long term when they say, in effect, that the original parents are irrelevant?  For the adoptee, the original parents are rarely irrelevant across an entire lifetime, whether she talks about her deepest feelings or not.

I loved my adoptive parents, just as they loved me, and they shaped me in many ways.  However, I believe the practice of adoption is deeply flawed.  My parents and the practice of adoption are two separate things.  My genes, obviously, come from a different set of parents, and I greatly resent the fact that all kinds of legal roadblocks exist to keep me from knowing more about them.  Should I be automatically disqualified from having any interest in genealogy just because I was adopted at the age of three months?

The fact that people profit from the practice of adoption causes all kinds of ethical dilemmas, much like adoption attorneys leaving out pertinent details about what actually best serves the interest of children.  As Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) states on its website: "Adoption should be about the formation of a family for the benefit and best interests of children, not the destruction of identity."

Last May, Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a column for the New York Times entitled "Markets and Morals,"  In it, he quotes Harvard political theorist Michael Sandel, who asks in his book What Money Can't Buy: "Do we want a society where everything is up for sale?"

While the free market can provide great solutions in many areas, says Kristof, some things simply should not be for sale.  I would say that babies are one of those things.  "Where to draw the line limiting the role of markets isn't clear to me," Kristof writes, "but I'm pretty sure that we've already gone too far."  In the field of adoption, where Caucasian babies cost more than African-American infants, and in the field of reproductive technology, where again, Caucasian infants cost more than half-Indians who are the product of an anonymous sperm donor and an impoverished Indian surrogate, the lines were crossed years ago.

The history of adoption demonstrates quite clearly that secrecy and a lack of transparency invite  dishonesty and fraud.   Am I saying that every adoption should be fully open?  Not necessarily.  There may be some cases in which a child could be harmed by exposure to original parents who have addiction problems or who suffer from mental instability.  But these cases are the minority, and there is no doubt in my mind that every adopted individual should have access to his or her legal document of birth as an adult.  While children may need special protections, adults do not, and they are entitled to the truth about their own lives.

While many misconceptions about adoption persist, I am encouraged that more and more adoptees, original parents, and adoptive parents are speaking out about the need for adoption reform.  Consider this comment by adoptive parent Gayle Swift to one of my posts:

"I'm the adoptive mother to two now-adult children.  We've been fortunate enough to benefit from open access.  This allowed each of my children to reconnect with their birthmothers.  All of our relationships have benefitted!  Our culture judges adoptees for wanting access to their original birth certificates and their roots.  At the same time, "Who Do You Think You Are," a prime-time TV show, touts the joy and spiritual fulfillment of genealogy research.  It is human nature to want to understand where one fits in the flow of the generations.  Moreover, for health reasons, it is often essential to have access to birth family records.  My daughter asks me why she has to have a 'fraudulent' birth certificate that lists me as having given birth to her.  I have no reasonable answer.  I am her adoptive mom and believe her birth certificate ought to reflect that.  I'm not ashamed to be her adoptive mom and do not find it any less valid.  I do not need the sham of a birth certificate that is essentially a lie.  I vote for truth."

You can read Swift's beautiful article about this issue here.

What legislators considering adoptee rights bills should be asking themselves is this: Who is promoting sealed records in adoption and why?  And do documented facts support their positions?  Those entities that profit from adoption often shade the truth to ease the concerns of nervous and insecure prospective adoptive parents.  Such sales pitches are not rooted in the facts about adoption, and they are highly unethical.  We know better, and we can and should do better.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ignorant Comments Adoptees Must Endure

Recent posts by fellow bloggers Amanda and Von have really hit home for me.  Amanda in a pictorial this week says, "I am an adult adoptee activist.  This is not about my parents, my childhood, or a 'bad personal experience.'  I lend my voice because adoptees are the only people who can tell you what being adopted is like.  I'm tired of being a secret.  I am adopted.  I am not afraid to speak my truth."

Wow!  As usual, Amanda sums up the truth in just a few powerful words.  So many people immediately assume that those adoptees who speak out for equal treatment -- having the same access to their legal birth certificates that everyone else has -- must have had a "bad personal experience," and couldn't possibly represent the views of all those "happy" adoptees out there.

When it comes to the topic of adoption, active listening is a much-needed skill, but it is unfortunately seldom put into practice.  Myths and assumptions continue to dominate the discourse, particularly in the political arena.  As Amanda says, "Adoptees are the only people who can tell you what being adopted is like."  But many politicians aren't all that interested in what adoptees have to say.  They would rather let entities like the NCFA, the Catholic bishops, and the State Bar Associations do the talking.

As an adopted adult, I find few things more irritating than people who don't know what they're talking about speaking for me.  That's why, like Von, I am one of those adoptees who has found blogging to be "more and more rewarding."  My blog is a place where I can address the myths about adoption, where readers can ask intelligent questions, and where hopefully, some real understanding and learning can take place.

As Von says, "Enduring the assumptions the judgements and the harshness of non-adoptees ... is an added burden" for the adoptee.  To illustrate the truth of what she says, I'll share just a few exchanges I've had with people over the years since I've spoken out for adoption reform.

In 2003, I wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, detailing my frustrating quest to secure my medical history after I had suffered a serious bout of malignant melanoma.  The Sunday after its publication, the husband of a friend approached me in church and said, "You're absolutely right -- you should have access to your medical history, but those mothers -- they should have the right to keep their names secret."  He expressed this view with such confidence that I was momentarily stunned.  Here is a man who, as far as I know, has no personal experience with adoption, has read no research on adoption, but is completely comfortable with his assertion that original mothers have a "right" to keep their identities secret from their offspring for life.

His response should have been, "As someone who has lived with adoption, what do you think the solution to this problem is?"  But like many, he wasn't so interested in what I thought;  he was much more interested in telling me what I should think.

Another acquaintance listened to me talk about the rights of adult adoptees during a social outing and observed, "But adoption is a much nobler solution than the alternative."  Ah!  That red herring -- abortion.  As most readers here know, there is no correlation between adult adoptee access and abortion rates, but once again, that annoying and unfounded assumption rears its ugly head.

This same acquaintance later related the story about a woman adoptee who "wasted" years of her life searching for her birth family.  The clear message here is that adoptees should just move on and be "grateful" for the lives they have.  The curiosity as to why an adoptee might feel compelled to spend years of her life searching for birth relatives is noticeably absent, but the judgment comes through loud and clear.

The comments I've related so far came from friends and acquaintances.  They get worse when we adoptees start to interact with adoption agency personnel, attorneys and legislators.  When I paid $400 to initiate a search at the agency that placed me for adoption, the first question I was asked was, "Why do you want to know?"  The inference, to me, was, "Why aren't you OK not knowing?"

I'll spare you the details of my frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful search through the agency, but along the way, I was subjected to hurtful and patronizing comments like, "How would you like to be approached by a child you relinquished?" to "Your desire to know will be seen by the courts as 'idle curiosity'" to "You are very emotional."  My quest ended with a patronizing letter from the agency's president and CEO.

I was particularly infuriated by her conclusion: "I hope your efforts to advocate for adoption reform impact the secrecy that surrounds the nature of adoption to make a positive change for the future."
These words from a woman whose agency has stood on the sidelines for the past 30 years as a grassroots group has advocated for adult adoptee rights in New Jersey!  How hypocritical can you get!

I responded to the CEO this way:  "Please don't patronize me and tell me that you have compassion for my feelings.  Believe me, your behavior speaks much more loudly than your words.  It has become clear to me that no one is willing to stand up for the rights of adoptees except the adoptees themselves, along with those who love them and have witnessed firsthand the hurt that you perpetuate by remaining unwilling to take a position.  To be treated like a perpetual child as an adult is both demeaning and unfair, and I am amazed that as so-called professionals in the field, you seem unable to recognize this simple fact."

I was quite angry then, and I have a feeling that those were the words that branded me as "highly emotional."  But the whole debacle was a valuable learning experience in that I finally recognized that the "experts" don't have my best interests at heart at all.  I was fortunate that I was able to locate my original mother on my own through adoption networks, and that we were able to exchange information in a compassionate way that worked for us.  This we were able to accomplish with no interference from state or agency "experts."

The laws as they now stand are unfair and outrageous, and the resistance to change continues to amaze me, given the data we now have.  My blog is just a little contribution to the discourse, I know.  But I'm inspired by the many other bloggers out there like Amanda and Von, who encourage me to keep moving forward.  As adopted adults, we are truly the "only people who can tell you what being adopted is like."  And at least in some quarters, it appears that some are starting to listen.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Gov. Chris Christie, Adoptee Rights, and Political Games

This summer, NJ Governor Chris Christie has been visiting coastal towns as part of his "Endless Summer of Tax Relief: A Conversation at the Jersey Shore" tour. Ah, if only I could convince the governor that signing an adoptee rights bill would lower tax rates in New Jersey -- then maybe he would be willing to talk with me! Gov. Christie appeared in Brant Beach on Long Beach Island in July, and I briefly thought about attending his event since I was vacationing just a few miles away, but then I remembered how other members of the adoption reform movement have been treated during his public meetings.

 When NJCARE member Zara Phillips last winter said she didn't understand why an adoptee rights bill couldn't work in New Jersey, when adult adoptees in England have had access to their original birth certificates since 1975, the governor replied, "Oh, I see you're from England -- you don't understand how things are done here in New Jersey."

 The way things are done here in New Jersey, apparently, is that a bill that has been thoroughly debated and approved by a democratic vote in both the Senate and Assembly is completely rewritten by special interest groups behind closed doors and then reintroduced as a "conditional veto" by the governor.

 That scenario, in fact, is exactly what happened with the adoptee rights bill approved by the Senate 27-10, and by the Assembly 44-26 during the last legislative cycle. I can't tell you how much it irritates me that Gov. Christie has claimed in public forums that "some adoptees won't compromise," when it was he who renounced a compromise access bill that had been approved by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, many of whom had listened to hundreds of hours of testimony.

 The term "conditional veto" in this case is grossly misleading, since what Gov. Christie really did was replace a simple civil rights bill with a completely new version prepared with major input from opponents to adoptee rights, a version to which the Legislature and the public never even had the opportunity to respond. So was Gov. Christie's action a fair or even democratic response? Hardly. It was an autocratic decision drafted to appease the concerns of the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops, The NJ Bar Association, NJ--ACLU, and NJ Right to Life.

 One wonders when we look at Gov. Christie's objections to the original bill whether he even understood its intent -- to allow adopted adults access to their own legal documents of birth at the age of 18. The bill was not about reunions -- it was about treating adopted adults just like we treat every other American citizen.

Currently in New Jersey and most other states, adult adoptees are denied the same rights as other citizens to secure their own legal documents of birth.  Instead, adoptees are issued amended birth certificates when they are adopted as children, and their true document of birth is "sealed" by the state.  To remedy that inequity, Gov. Christie proposed that we create and maintain a state-run system of confidential intermediaries to act as a buffer between adult adoptees and their original parents -- thus perpetuating a system in which adoptees are viewed as forever children singled out for special and separate treatment.

Gov. Christie said that the bill passed by the Legislature, which allowed adult adoptees to apply for and secure their original birth certificates just like anyone else, could have had "a potential chilling effect on adoptions" -- here he uses the telling and misguided language of institutional opponents to adoptee rights.

In another revealing comment, he said, "Yet I also strongly empathize with the adopted child, and adopted parents who may long to know the identity of the birth parents."

Why is the adoptee referred to as a child here, when the Legislature had approved a bill addressing only the rights of the full-grown adopted adult?  And why, once again, was it assumed that the bill was all about reunions, when it was really about the right of adults to secure their own legal documents?

In conditionally vetoing the bill last year, Gov. Christie perpetuated all kinds of myths and stereotypes about adoption.  Despite his statement that an adoptee rights bill would have a "chilling effect" on adoption, adoption rates are not lower in states with access legislation, nor are abortion rates higher.

Gov. Christie and other opponents to adoptee rights bills maintain that the original mother's right to privacy is paramount, and that this right trumps the right of the adopted adult to know his or her own true identity.  Even if adoptee rights bills were about reunions, such a position makes no logical sense.  The data shows that 95 percent of original parents are open to contact, and in states like Oregon, which passed access legislation in 2000, fewer than one percent of original mothers have filed "no contact" preferences.  Higher courts in Oregon and Tennessee have also weighed in on this issue, ruling that there is no constitutional right to privacy for original parents that would be violated by releasing the birth certificates of adult adoptees.

I keep sending these facts and others to Gov. Christie's office, in the hope that someone, someday, will pay attention.  To date, I haven't received any replies or invitations for constructive dialogue.  And were I to speak out at one of Gov. Christie's public forums, I might ask, "Why, Governor, if you believe in less bureaucracy, would you suggest that we create an unwieldy and expensive state-run entity to control contact between adoptees who are adults and original parents who are adults, when simple, inexpensive civil rights bills have worked so well in other states?"

I suppose the governor would respond that I simply don't understand how New Jersey government works.  But sadly, after working for a fair adoptee rights bill for over ten years, I do.  The facts, which can easily be secured from the websites of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the American Adoption Congress, and NJCARE, show that granting adult adoptees the right to secure their own legal documents of birth is the fair and ethical thing to do.  We are still waiting for those facts to outweigh the fears and myths promulgated by the opposition, and for simple justice to become more important than the games that some politicians play.

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