Thursday, January 27, 2011

Equal Access; SMAAC's Official Position

We Mothers of SMAAC do support the efforts of our adult children to procure access to their Original Birth Certificates. We also believe that access should be equally available to all those whose identities have been hidden by this legally sanctioned fraud. Too many of us kissed our infants goodbye with a whispered promise that we would see them again. Too many of us were given false promises of reunion when our child reached the magic age of 18 or 21 only to find that this was a lie. The heinous use of the Natural Mother's presumed "confidentiality or anonymity" must stop. Mothers must be allowed to speak for themselves and make their own decisions concerning our relationships with our adult, surrendered children. Here is the official position of SMAAC on this vital issue.

EQUAL ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES (OBCs)

The term “Protection” in adoption has been grossly misused when it comes to the violations of rights of both adoptees and their natural mothers. Protection, as used in Government, means “That benefit or safety which the government affords to the citizens ”, not the protection of one group of citizens from another. As adults, individuals are capable of monitoring and maintaining their relationships with other adults and it is unprecedented under law that protection of one class of adults be protected from another when neither class has committed any crime. The entities using "protection" in an erroneous manner, often those whose incomes depend on increasing adoption, have become increasingly presumptuous in speaking FOR natural mothers who are NOT all of the same mind and are older, experienced women capable of speaking for themselves.

The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, grants all people equal protection of the laws, which means that “the states must apply the law equally and cannot give preference to one person or class of persons over another ”. In regards to the opening of adoption records, most specifically the Original Birth Certificate, the identity of the natural mother is the one piece of information that is consistently made known. Access to identifying information on one party without providing equal access to identifying information of the other parties violates the Equal Protection intent. Providing the adopted adults with their original birth certificate, with the mother’s identifying information, while not providing the mothers with the amended birth certificate with their adopted child’s new name, is unequal and therefore violates the equal protection clause.

Since the Amended Birth Certificate contains identifying information on the adoptive parents, they also should be provided equal access to the identifying information of all parties to the surrender and adoption process. It has, in fact, been found that often adoptive parents have had identifying information on the mothers of their adopted children from the very beginning, in either the court documents, original birth certificates or social security cards. Some states, including Kansas and Maine, already give the original birth certificates to the adoptive parents, by law. The records were sealed to protect the adoptive parents from the natural parents, not to preserve the anonymity from adult adoptee that was imposed upon mothers.

Anonymity and confidentiality are two separate concepts in the law. Confidential records are almost never confidential to the parties involved. Confidentiality of the medical records, counseling files, and other documents that pertain to the mother are private and should remain confidential. In the early days of the Baby Scoop Era, Mothers were granted confidentiality during their confinements, prior to delivering their infants to protect them from the prying eyes of neighbors and others. Confidentiality in adoption was not intended to be continuous, unasked for, anonymity from the children to whom they gave birth and surrendered. Anonymity refers ONLY to identity. Seldom is mandatory anonymity codified by laws and if not, the promise of perpetual anonymity to (natural*)mothers used as a reason to maintain an unnecessary anonymity hasn’t a precedent.

Medical Updates

Natural Mothers, as all citizens of the United States, are guaranteed “the protection of their privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information ,” which would include our and our family’s medical history.

HIPAA laws state, quite simply, that the individual “owns” their medical history. It does not become the property of the physician who treats the person, and that the individual has the right to take their medical history with them when they move to a different physician. That made it possible for the person to avoid unnecessary duplication of testing, x-rays and diagnoses. It also made it possible for people to deny someone else access to their private medical history, including family members.

Summary

Natural mothers surrendered their rights to parent their minor children and their responsibilities to their infants, not the right to ever know their children or their welfare.

No one can be compelled to violate their own rights. One cannot waive one’s Constitutional Rights. In fact, laws that violate constitutionally guaranteed rights are not legal and will not withstand a challenge in a court of law. Legislators are aware of this fact, if writers of legislation are not, and do not want to have their names attached to bills that will not withstand a constitutional challenge in court.

In order for a bill to pass, it must be able to withstand a constitutional challenge. It must be fair, equal and just. The ones that are being written that exclude the rights of one party in preference to other parties are not legal. A fair and comprehensive bill would offer equal benefits for all parties involved, including the mother who surrendered.

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This is an open message to all those entities who benefit from closed records and adoption. It is past time for you to stand back and allow us to speak our own minds. For too long, you have capitalized on our silence. We are speaking for ourselves and we aren't saying the same things you are. Natural Mothers are not puppets, pawns nor are we still frightened teens hiding from a scornful society. Our surrendered children are no longer defenseless infants and are not the property of those who adopted them. They are their own people. Allow us to seek the answers to our own questions and handle the results as the adults we all are.
 
In other words, SHUT UP, ALREADY!!
 
Sincerely,
Robin Westbrook (who takes complete responsibility for the paragraph beneath the asterisks)

10 comments:

Linda said...

Thank you!!!!

*Peach* said...

Thank you for writing this.

Jenn said...

This is fantastic! Thank you so much!

BD said...

Woo-Woo! Great statement!

Stephanie said...

The paragraph below the asterisks sums it up BRILLIANTLY, as usual for you, Robin. Bravo!

Robin said...

My APs were told my fmother's name, age, home city and state and religion. There never seemed to be any understanding that this was supposed to be confidential. I was quite surprised to find out that so many people from the BSE had no idea what their nmother's name was.

Coleman Moms and Babes said...

This is awesome. I have believed in this for a very long time.

Cedar said...

Good paper! The only suggestion I would make is that you have a large heading near the top "EQUAL ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES (OBCs)" but further on down the article you talk about the amended birth certificates as well. Maybe this should be highlighted?

This discussion has come up recently on a Cafemom board for natural mothers, with definite support for equal access.

I also wrote an article about it as well, A Tool for Adoption Activism: Model Open Records Legislation. This is the way it should be! Not with mothers gathering to support adoptees and meanwhile considering themselves to be undeserving of equal treatment. Neither of us had any choice! The only parties with choice were the baby-brokers and their paying customers. :(

Robin said...

Cedar, the correct title is on the SMAAC page. This was my blog post title. It has also been posted on Sandy's blog, the SMAAC site and the adoptee activism site. This position paper was written for us but also for the adoptees who we will be joining in August to state our case.

maybe said...

Right on, sister!