Hot off the press, here's an NCSL Chicago 2016 Update from ARC Board Member Connie Gray:
Becky Drinnen, Lynn Grubb, Gaye Tannenbaum, Michelle Melendy Lahti and Connie Gray staffed the Adoptee Rights Coalition booth at the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures Summit in Chicago. This was ARC's ninth year representing adoptees at this conference and educating legislators on restoring access to original birth certificates.
The conference had approximately 5,000 attendees and this was the very first time there was a panel discussion on access legislation. The breakfast event was scheduled for Tuesday morning and we spent Monday evening going from table to table at a social event inviting people to the breakfast, giving them cards with the ARC booth number on it and telling them about the DNA kits we were giving away.
FTDNA donated two kits, three $35 off coupons, and gave us handouts for discount codes which were good for attendees for the week. Texas Adoptee Rights donated two Ancestry DNA kits.
When we mentioned DNA, people would talk about "Finding Your Roots", CeCe Moore, and the 20/20 Episode on Foundlings.
Illinois State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, an adoptee, assembled the panel which included my personal idol, Elizabeth Samuels. Feigenholtz worked in Illinois to restore access starting in 1996 and was able to get legislation passed in 2010 which allowed 99% of adoptees access to their original birth certificates.
There were about 60 attendees and the panelists spoke eloquently on the issue. Each promised that they are willing to "go anywhere we are needed" to help pass access legislation.
Rep. Feigenholtz specifically thanked ARC for our many years of dedication to the conference and also mentioned the American Adoption Congress as they came this year and contributed money towards the event.
ARC gave out information cards to the attendees and invited them to stop by the booth and enter the drawing for a DNA kits. Many of them were interested in hearing more about the issue.
A reporter with Stateline was at the breakfast asking questions and came by the ARC booth multiple times for further information. The article she wrote can be read here: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/08/12/with-push-from-adoptees-states-open-access-to-birth-records
There are a few erroneous statements within the article and a formal evaluation is being written and will be posted soon.
There were several legislators who stated they were ready to work on this issue in their state, the public event at NCSL really inspired people!
We had Legislators stop by from the following no access states:
Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Do you live in any of those states? Do you know people in those states who are interested in this important civil rights issue?
The tide is turning and the legislators need to hear from YOU!
Your voice is important and your action can help restore access to all adoptees. Please email ARC@adopteerightscoalition.com for more information or to get involved.