Sunday, April 11, 2010

Adoption House Bill in Illinois--birth certificates!

As of 4/6/2010, Illinois HB 5428 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary committee. This is a bad, bad bill that makes it even more difficult for adoptees to access their original birth certificates and identities. Please visit the petition site on to sign your NO vote to the bill. 
The sum of Bastard Nation and others' arguments against the bill:
  • Identity is identity, whether you are adopted or not.
  • HB 5428 cannot be amended to support adoptee rights. It needs to die in committee.
  • HB 5428 contains a disclosure veto disguised as a contact “preference.” There's a difference between the right to identity and search or reunion. The former is a basic right of all citizens, the latter an individual choice.
  • HB 5428 penalizes adoptees who research their origins to the tune of $10,000 or more – for what non-adopted people refer to as “genealogy.”
  • Some adoptees cannot afford the existing intermediary program, or are not accepted into it.
  • The sole entity contracted to provide these services has pre-approval over petitions before the judge sees them.
  • There is no oversight nor accountability.
  • In states with birth certificate access, abortion rates are lower, and mothers feel more comfortable considering adoption knowing that their children, once adults, will have access to their origins.

Full Petition text:
"In the USA and all civilized nations, a birth certificate is the proof of the individuals existence and the cornerstone of his or her identity. Currently, when people are adopted in Illinois, they are issued a totally new and fraudulent birth certificate instead of a document verifying that they have been adopted. It's as if one's existence has been erased. It is a violation of the human rights of an individual who is most likely an infant and unable to defend his or her original identity. 

It's time for this to end. To single out certain people for different treatment under the law based solely on their birth status is to create an unconstitutional minority of second-class citizens. It is long past time for adoptees to be treated as equal in these United States. 

Lawmakers seem to be confusing the right of every adult to his or her own identity with the rights of another adult to confidentiality. This confusion flies in the face of two simple facts. One, women who surrendered a child to adoption were not promised that their name and relationship to said child would never be revealed. And, two, the confidentiality of both parties can be protected without anonymity. Adult adoptees should not be penalized and criminalized simply for wanting the same thing everyone else takes for granted: access to their original birth certificates. 

Adoption reform advocates have long maintained that confidentiality and anonymity are not synonymous. Interestingly, the adoption industry's lobbying organization has even changed their rhetoric once they realized their error. In other states where this matter has been debated, courts have agreed that no confidentiality was ever promised in written form, and if promised verbally, was not enforceable. 

There is no guarantee that a child relinquished for adoption will successfully BE adopted. If not, the child continues through life with the name they were given at birth and their original birth certificate is never sealed. And, if an adoption takes place, the mother's name is published in the newspaper and read out in court. Hardly a situation that provides anonymity. Contrary to myth, adoptee access to birth certificates does not reduce adoptions or increase abortions. In states with birth certificate access, abortion rates are actually lower, and mothers feel more comfortable considering adoption with the knowledge that their children, once adults, will have free and unfettered access to their identities. 

The only thing that is worse than the absurd lengths to which state governments will go to maintain the “secrets” of private individuals is the greed with which the state and its designees will try to profit from them. This is particularly true in Illinois, where adoptees must go through the state's ineffective Registry and its accomplice, the expensive and often inaccessible Confidential Intermediary program. In fact, such programs require adult adoptees to contact their birth mothers in order to gain information, whereas access to original birth certificates would provide that information with no intrusion upon the mother at all. 

Identity is identity, whether you are adopted or not. We call upon Illinois legislators to stand up for equal treatment under the law for all its citizens regardless of adoptive status, and to join with us in seeking to defeat HB 5428, the latest in a series of proposed laws that seeks to enhance the profits of the adoption industry at the expense of individual adoptees. 

Further, we ask for sponsors of new, clean legislation that would restore the civil rights of adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates: “Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the state of Illinois shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Illinois. Contains no exceptions.”"

If you disagree with the bill, please visit the site and vote NO. 

At first, I thought it right to vote no. Here's what I wrote to Senator Hultgren
Dear Senator Hultgren,  
I'm concerned with the new HB 5428 which puts additional barriers to adoptees accessing their original birth certificates, which is a basic civil right. It privileges one person's perceived rights over another's. In my personal situation in Illinois, the adoption agency (buttressed by the state's sealing of my birth certificate) concealed my racial background from myself and my parents, which caused a lot of grief as I grew up. They were also unhelpful in helping me recover simple information about my birth origins (info which, due to medical conditions of both my birth parents, was vital for me to know).  

Let me dispute a common misperception: It's not about reunions. It's about rights. It's about information. It's about transparency. It's about making adoption a better, more healthy practice.  

I do hope you will, with compassion, consider turning down this bill.  


Liberty Hultberg, Illinois native, born 1981 as Emily Hackett, adopted 1982


triona said...

Thank you so much for helping us oppose this bill. You and others can also help by writing to the Senate sponsors and Judiciary Committee members. Contact info here:

There is a hearing tomorrow (T 4/13/2010) at 2:30pm at Capitol 400, Springfield where the Judiciary Committee will discuss this bill. I will be in attendance as representative of Adoption Reform Illinois and I am bringing with me the written testimony of many who oppose but can't attend in person. So if you intend to write it's best to do so before tomorrow's meeting.

I'll be reporting on my experience both on the Adoption Reform Illinois site and on my personal blog:

Thank you again!

Peppermint Patty said...

YOU'VE WON AN AWARD! Come pick it up! :)