Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Letter Writing Campaign Starts Now!!

How can YOU help?

By writing your legislators. If you don't know who your legislator is, or
where to send your letters, here's a great link:

Find Your Representative

Enter your zip code in the box and click ‘GO’. Many zip codes split
legislative districts, so enter in your full ZIP+4 code. If you don’t know
your ZIP+4, just enter your zip code in the box, and on the next page enter
your address. The site will find your representatives that way.

On the results page, you’ll be given every representative, from the
President all the way down to your local assembly. While it sounds good to
get the word all the way to the top, you’ll want to skip writing to the
President or Congress. They have no power nor authority over our birth
certificate access, and honestly don’t care. The individuals you want to
focus on will be on the right hand side of the results.

Clicking on an individual’s name will bring you to a page with their contact
information. The page will have an option to send an email to your elected
official. We’d like to ask you to please consider not emailing them; rather
sending them snail mail instead. Many legislators do not value emails, or if
they do, value personal letters over emails. Sending a personalized fax is
acceptable if you’re running out of time close to a deadline, but letters
via US Mail carry the most weight.

So, you're ready to write your legislators but you don't exactly know what
to say? Here is a sample to help get you started. If you take these basics,
and personalize your details into the mix, you'll have a great letter!

A quick note... access to original birth certificates is not about a right to reunion. Access to our records is about ending the discrimination being done to adopted people.

It really is that simple. That is truly something that no statistic, no fake privacy rights, no adoption agency can counter. There is no argument that overrules our discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination. And we, the adopted, ARE being discriminated against by being denied access to our original, unaltered birth certificates.

You’ll want to keep your letter short – under one page – and you’ll want to focus on the civil rights issue of sealed birth certificates for only one class of citizens – adoptees! Arguments and compromise measures come up over the ideas of reunion and medical history, but no one can argue that the non-adopted have unrestricted and unjustified access to their birth

Here is a sample letter- it's a sample, so tweak it a bit to make it more personable, but stick to the main topic- ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOR ALL AMERICANS.

Dear Assembly member X — or Honorable Senator Y:

    This August, individuals from across the Nation will be traveling to San Antonio, Texas, to take part in the annual Adoptee Rights Demonstration. As a registered voter in your District, I wanted to advise you that I have made plans to attend the National Conference of State Legislators, and add my support to those who view adult adoptees as equal citizens under the law.

   The State of X must stop discriminating against adoptees and allow them the same unfettered access to their original birth certificates that non-adopted citizens enjoy. As an adoptee, I am clearly treated differently because of out-dated assumptions and misleading statistics concerning privacy and secrecy.

    As my elected official, your support and agreement on this matter is extremely important to me (if your state has pending legislation,—- you can add in: as is your support of /opposition to Bill xxxxxx).

    Thank you for your time and attention to this important civil rights issue. I hope you will be attending the convention, and will visit The Adoptee Rights Coalition booth inside the convention center.

    If you should have any questions or wish to speak with me, I can be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx.


For those from restored access states

    As you are aware, in 200x our state restored the rights of adopted adults to access their original birth certificates. As reported in November, 2007 by the Evan B. Donaldson Foundation, there have been no negative repercussions since then by the passing of this bill. I hope you will be able to visit the booth supporting restored access at the National Conference of State Legislators this August and show your support for adoptees currently working to pass similar bills in their states. Your experience and voice as a legislator in a restored access state will be invaluable.


Other points to consider….

The United Kingdom and Australia have restored birth certificate with great success. During your time at the convention, I encourage you to enter conversation with representatives from Alaska and Kansas where birth certificates were never sealed. Other states that may be of interest to you are Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine, as they have reversed sealed birth certificate laws and restored access to adoptees from their states. I believe you will be encouraged by the positive reports from your peers.

OBC access is NOT ABOUT REUNION.      

Millions of adult adoptees’ original birth certificates are currently sealed, denying them basic genealogical information.

Adoptee's original birth certificates have been sealed for less than 60 years in many states. They were sealed as a "courtesy" to the adoptive family.

Opponents of birth certificate access have claimed that birthmothers were promised privacy under the law. No such law exists. Birthmothers were not party to adoption documents.

Adult adoptees obtaining their original record of birth is a basic right, a legitimate need in the search of their complete identity.

In many states, adult adoptees must now petition the court, and provide “good cause” for the release of the original birth certificate. The decision for release is left to the discretion of the judge. This constitutes unequal treatment as non-adopted persons have their birth records without petitioning the courts and at their will.

In states where adoptees are provided equal access to their original birth certificate, no negative consequences have occurred.

Of course, if you can visit your state reps in person, that's great, too!! See if you can schedule an appointment.

Thank you for your help! It is up to all of us to make this a reality, and every letter helps, as do your donations to The Adoptee Rights Coalition and your presence at the demonstrations.

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