Liberals, evil people & the politics of open records

I wasn’t going to tell you about this, because I know you’re sick of how I complain about the forums. But I was reading a really good post at O Solo Mama this morning that talks about the issue of international adoption search where she mentions her forum escapades, so I feel empowered.

Yeah, I got thumped again. Not saying when or where, because I only went there to read an post that came up in a google search. The post had to do with adoptive parent involvement in adoption reform, and I made a couple of points about the fact that APs should be involved in the effort to open birth records.

A guy responded to my comment with one entitled something like "liberals vs evil people" that basically said that adoptive parents who get involved in issues like open records are a) being PC, b) must have kids with no problems, or c) put their kids second.

Whoa, partner! Let’s talk about that.

It was pretty amazing to hear someone suggest that exercising one’s civil responsibility to be socially engaged was just being "PC." It is not. We ALL should be doing this, on all kinds of issues, and can if we try. Our life responsibilities may take precedence, but it takes very little time to become educated about an issue and to support it when the opportunity arises.

I also get really frustrated with the idea that you can carve up adoption and only associate with the bits that suit you. No prospective adoptive parent should approach the adoption of a child with the attitude that they can shield themselves from parts of it as will. When we adopt, whether it be a child from within our community or from a country far away, we accept responsibility for all the issues that make up adoption today. We may try to be selective, and some of us even succeed – but at the end of the day, every adoptive parent is responsible for all of adoption, whether it touches them directly or not.

Example: I may not be an expert in attachment disorder, nor may my children have experienced this particular challenge. But I have an obligation to understand how attachment disorder weaves into adoption, and how this affects others in the adoption community. When the opportunity arises for me to use that knowledge and to direct people to the experts, I should do that. It’s part of the package.

Same with open records. Perhaps, if you’ve adopted an older child from care, you have the child’s birth information and maybe even a relationship with his or her first family. It could be easy for you to dismiss efforts to change closed records laws as unimportant. But you shouldn’t. By remaining silent on this issue, you send as strong a message as those who are working hard in the trenches, and that holds the entire effort back.

Now let’s talk about that "liberals vs evil people.” My thumper seemed to be saying that working for open birth records for adopted people was a liberal activity, and it was pretty clear he wasn’t paying me a compliment.

But think about this for a moment. We typically define conservatives as individuals who believe the government should stay out of the lives of individuals as possible, right? Now think about what happens when birth records are sealed. I'm pretty sure you can call it government intervention. Go a little further and try to think of a way in which the government intervenes in a person’s life on a more personal or fundamental level. Bet you can’t think of one, and anyway if think you do I’ll argue with you.

A person’s birth identity is about as personal as it gets. Conservatives should be all over the open records issue, and should be SCREAMING for closed records laws to be overturned.

(Wait, sorry – forgot about the disproven-a-gazillion-times-over notion that opening adoptee birth records leads to more abortions. Never mind.)

All kidding aside: Open records is an issue all adoptive parents should understand and should support.
  • If you believe in truth and transparency in adoption, open records is your issue.
  • If you believe in keeping government out of our personal business, open records is your issue.
  • If you believe in the right of individuals to manage their own relationships, open records is your issue.
  • But most of all, if you have adopted a child, open records is your issue. Because it’s simply the right thing to do for your child.


rosemary said…
Fantastic Post!! Love it!
Mei-Ling said…
Margie? You forgot the other "but what about the birthmothers who want PRIVACY" disproven theory. ;P
Margie said…
How could I have left that one out??? I also forgot "it's best this way so you can move on."

Nope, none of them work anymore.

I forgot to include this link in my post, just added it and will include it here, too:

The current trend is that when records are open, abortion stats go down.
Deb said…
Great one Margie! I tweeted this.
M and M said…
Thank you for this post.
*Peach* said…
Thank you for this post and supporting adopted people. It means a lot.
osolomama said…
Thanks, Margie, and I really like your list.

Yes, these are indeed "our" issues too. No way around that one.

I do feel overly negative and grumpy at times about some of the boards but I don't write about it every time. That would be, uh, daily.
Anonymous said…
I love you, Margie!!!! (((HUGS)))
maryanne said…
Very good post, Margie! In fact, both supporting and opposing adoptee rights cuts across traditional liberal and conservative party lines.

Need I say more than opponents of open records in many states have included ACLU and Planned Parenthood on the Left, and Right to Life and various fundamentalist and Conservative Catholic religious groups on the Right?

Coversely, here in NJ some very conservative groups and individuals have supported us, as well as some liberal groups, and in some states like MI Catholic Charities are pro-open records.

Adoptive parents supporting open records, some since the 1970s,have always been those who put their kid's needs first. Nothing "PC" about it, in fact they often took a lot of flack from other adoptive parents, and still do in some cases as you know:-)
Memi said…
Thanks so much Margie. I appreciate your approach toward changing rhetoric to dialogue.
Dee said…
Great Post. Just a point on the comments. Mei-Ling referred to the "birthmothers who want PRIVACY" theory. I just want to comment, they do exist. I know, I have met birthmothers who would be horrified if their identities were ever discovered. Sad but true.
Alyson and Ford said…
Great subject! You're right about not being a unique item for either party. Not sure about how open records are in China since I thought there was no records; I guess I need to do some research!

Alyzabeth's Mommy for One Year

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