Thursday, April 22, 2010

Update on Illinois HB 5428

It passed, yesterday 4-21-10.

Tough to weed through all the buzz about the bill--it's controversial and there are many misperceptions out there. Full text of the bill is supposed to be posted here, but it's not. However, here's what I can discern:

The bill is a restricted access bill, which--for now--restores rights to original birth certificates only to adoptees born before January 1, 1946. For adoptees born after that date, we're still potentially blocked--access is restricted according to preferences of the birth mother.

Again we see the confusion between access to birth certificates and search/contact between adoptee and birth parent: the first is a right, and the second is a choice. A birth mother should not have the right to block adoptees' rights to their own original identity. A birth mother should have the choice to request no contact. It's conflating rights with reunion, which are two different things.

P.S. Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine have restored unrestricted access adoptees' original birth certificates in recent years. ~17,000 birth certificates have been unsealed, with none of the “social unrest” that was feared. (Bastard Nation)

In some ways, it's a victory, because more people have access to their birth certificates, which is a basic civil right (adoptees are the only people who are blocked from accessing their own birth certificates.) But it's not a full victory, because many, many people are still blocked. And, as Bastard Nation points out, having a partial-restoration-compromise-type bill often just adds more red tape and makes it difficult to convince legislators to revisit the issue in the future.

Now, in November of 2011, if no contact veto has been filed by a birth mother, then supposedly ANY adoptee can apply for his/her birth certificate. This date seems arbitrary, and the term "supposedly" was used by a fellow adoption advocate (have these provisions failed in the past?) It seems to me a light at the end of the tunnel, though a lot can happen in 18 months.

Hopefully I'll get my birth certificate next November, a few weeks after I turn 30!


Katy said...

forgive my not knowing this, but do you mean adoptive folks can't get any birth certificate at all? how do you get a driver's license or a passport?

Liberty said...

Hi Katy,
We have "ammended" birth certificates, issued after finalized adoptions, with information changed--specifically names. Adoptive parents' names and our new names are listed. On mine, we think even the hospital info was changed. This is supposed to be a legal document, and you can get passports/licenses with it. However, it does add complication in some situations when you're trying to verify your background--such as prove you are part of an American Indian tribe for a scholarship to Kansas State. Or, as a friend of mine is struggling with right now, proving that you are Colombian by birth so that you can gain citizenship and visit your birth parents or adopt.

And remember all that hype when people were demanding to see Barack Obama's birth certificate? They wanted proof of his birth and origins, showing how important it is in the public consciousness that we know where we came from.

Thanks for asking!

Jane said...

I really wish that people would actually red this bill, prior to voicing opinions about it. The internet is rife with misinformation, and various lobby groups, like the Illinois Right to Life group, that are swamping the internet with misinformed propaganda. This bill is a huge step forward for Illinois, and it respects the rights of all parties involved. This January 1, 1946 date is not arbitrary and meaningless. All adoptees whose birth parents consent to identification will be eligible for this information on November 15, 2011. I have waited 40 years for this date. If your birth parents do not consent, then the information becomes available upon their demise. Hopefully adoptees are smart enough to think for themselves, read for themselves, and not jump on to a bandwagon led by those who were not even adopted in Illinois. Support this bill!!!

Liberty said...

Hi, Jane. Thanks for your comment.

It was hard to find the full bill online to read. I'm on several list-servs that disseminate information about adoption legislation, and honestly it was hard to weed through all of it. To me, it seems like a victory as well--I am Illinois-born. But, to some it does not, so I wanted to explain why (or at least my understanding of it.) I guess some feel that because the veto option is there it is still privileging the birth mother's perceived right to privacy over the adoptee's right to his/her own information.

It gets tricky... That's why I post these things publicly and hope for open conversation, so that people like you can help me keep up and understand!

Jane said...

Here is the bill.
The crossed out parts are deleted from the bill as it stands now. Read for yourself, and do not be swayed by othr interest groups who feel this is 'unconstitional', etc. The most vocal people on the net imploring us to support vetoing this bill, are not even Illinois adoptees.

Liberty said...

Hi, Jane. Thanks for your commentary again. Check out my next post and the comments following--two readers who say they disagree with the bill. I think people are bothered by the fact that there is still a veto option, and that this bill condones more regulation in regard to searches.

It's hard to know where to stand!

My thoughts, at this point, are that restoring access, by November next year, to almost all adoptees, is better than none.

Gretchen said...

I'm searching for my deceased father (the adopted). I'm 40 as well and can't imagine not fully knowing who I am (by lineage). However, I can't wait to see people who look like myself and my three brothers! Oh, who am I kidding - I want desperately to get a glimpse of someone that looks like my Dad. I miss him so much. The law benefited our family. It doesn't mean it's right. But selfishly, I can say that it's a start. I hope that the wait for November 2011 flies by for you all. God speed.

Liberty said...

I know that having your father's original birth certificate will be very meaningful for you. And I hope it leads you to more information about your biological heritage. Best of luck to you and your family!