NCSL 2019 Report
by Lynn Grubb
The Adoptee Rights Coalition was pleased to attend the 2019 National Conference of State Legislatures in Nashville last month. Local Tennessee advocates, along with others from Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South America came to the Country Music Capital of the World to staff our annual booth. As we do every year, we educated legislators, staff, and other attendees about the need to restore equal access to original birth certificates to adopted adults in those states that do not allow access.
Dolly Parton set a positive tone in the opening session, discussing her international child literacy charity, Imagination Library, with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. She delighted thousands of attendees with two songs in closing. What an inspiration she is.
This year we added something new – the Wheel of Adoptee Fortune or Misfortune. It proved to be an intriguing educational tool to show differences in various state laws. Some states have tiered laws and some states have no or very few restrictions, while other states require a court order. The wheel generated a lot of interest as did our Ancestry DNA kit drawing.
Adoptees are using home DNA kits to “match” their cousins through Ancestry, 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA, My Heritage and Gedmatch to learn about their ethnicity and to find out who their birth parents are. This is an especially helpful tool for adoptees born and adopted in states that have no access to original birth certificates.
We educated conferees about how an adoptee's direct access to his or her original birth certificate is now more private than a DNA test. A discreet personal contact between mother and adult adoptee is much more private than locating a cousin through DNA resulting in conversations with multiple family members, sometimes "outing' a birth parent.
We were excited to have visits at the booth from Florida adoptee and Rep. Richard Stark, NY Rep. David Weprin, and IA Rep. Michael Bergan, all of whom sponsored legislation this year. Reps. Stark and Weprin have always been big supporters of our cause and we are looking forward to working together with them to organize a legislative breakfast at NCSL 2020. If you would like to donate to next year’s breakfast panel, you can click on the green Donate button at the top of this page.
After daytime sessions and activities close, the evening social events begin. They are always fantastic -- but this year Nashville rolled out a special kind of southern hospitality, including an unforgettable private catered concert event with country icon Trace Adkins. Attendees also enjoyed a private tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
All in all, it was one NCSL we won’t soon forget. We look forward to connecting with even more legislators in Indianapolis next year!