Archive for the Adoption Category

ebd-records-bullshit-updateI think it’s really bad form to start off a post with a dictionary definition, but unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people out there who are obviously not clear on the basics.

human rights, pl.n. The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled…

There’s that word in the middle: “all.” Human rights, if they are rights, apply to all people. A simple concept, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of adoption, various camps – primarily, the institutions that make up the adoption industry itself – have a lot to gain from complicating the simple things.

Let’s take Adam Pertman as today’s rather timely example. Pertman is the Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, which I’ll call “EBD” for short. What is this “Institute?” Take a look at their own website, and you’ll see what spawned it – an adoption agency, Spence-Chapin. Heck, the “Institute” is even named for the onetime president of this adoption agency:

The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 through the initiative of the Board of Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children, which saw a need for an independent and unbiased adoption research and policy organization. Evan B. Donaldson was a member of the Spence-Chapin Board of Directors continuously from 1977 on, serving as president from 1986 until her death in 1994.

I think it’s quite appropriate to laugh at those words, “independent and unbiased.” The EBD’s sole business is the promotion of adoption, providing backing for adoption agencies in general, while Spence-Chapin is still featured prominently on the front page of the EBD website as an “organizational partner.”

As for Adam Pertman, his book and his rhetoric hammer the same themes over and over, that the practice of adoption “for growing a family” must be somehow considered completely normal, societally normalized. His function is that of advocacy from the point of view of the satisfied customer. The problem with this is that such advocate-customers often seek to validate their past decisions by preserving and promoting the business that supplied them with a product or service. It is secondary to advocate-customers if the business is found to be doing harm in the process of providing that service, or is detrimental to the people who are integral to that product, only that the business continue to function to serve even more customers just like Pertman. Such advocate-customers can also be completely without a clue about details that are vitally important to others affected by such a business – in this case, Pertman ignores the actual details and history of the process of actually opening birth certificates to adoptees through legislation.

That the “product” here involves real live human children should in itself raise a few red flags. That Adam Pertman, an adopter and adoption promoter, is barging in and opportunistically seizing upon the language of adoptee rights that has historically been primarily the domain of adopted people themselves, crafted by the adoptee rights movement, should also raise some red flags, particularly among exactly those adoptees.

Adam Pertman has had a decade or so to appropriate the language of adoptee  rights for his own uses, making some inroads among some adoptees and adoption-related groups who are, inexplicably, supporting the latest spectacle created by Pertman and the EBD, including the AAC and CUB. Problem is, every time Pertman opens his mouth, he takes a simple issue – access to birth certificates for all adopted people, no exceptions – and complicates it beyond all recognition, subverting it so that, in practice adoptees end up being left behind. Pertman does not act as if he was concerned with a matter of gaining civil rights for each and every member of an affected group, which is not resolvable through legislation that makes that civil right conditional on the permission of others.

His lack of concern for actual rights is necessitated by his role as a marketer. His role is to promote the EBD and adoption through a number of methods. The promotional method that most clearly hampers adoptee rights is through EBD’s repeated practice of submitting and presenting testimony to state legislatures whenever legislation involving access to birth certificates is being considered.  Unfortunately, Pertman and EBD never address the merits or faults of the particular proposed legislation, but have merely carried and repeated from state to state the same canned presentation for the past five years or more. Testimony by Adam Pertman does not accomplish the actual work of convincing legislators to open birth certificates for all, but is primarily to raise his image and that of the EBD as “experts,” as providers of marketing-survey-based position papers that uniformly prop up adoption, which he repeatedly calls a “wondrous institution.”

The restoration of rights to adoptees is unrelated to this kind of glowing, and unwarranted, description of the adoption industry. Instead, it’s that kind of exaggerated language, the vague promise that adoptees might know the facts of their origins, and the outright confusion of birth certificates with seldom-specified “medical records” that complicate, if not sabotage, the relatively simple matter of restoring a basic civil right and equal protection under the law to adoptees. No one should be compelled to disclose personal medical information to others, even family members – in fact, it’s against the law – but the repeated, and completely irrelevant, pounding on the availability of medical histories is not germane to restoring the basic civil rights of all adoptees by restoring access to original birth certificates.

What, then, is Adam Pertman actually doing? Having been exposed to his empty rhetoric for years now, and his most recent endorsement of legislation (“we urge swift passage”) such as that now under consideration in New Jersey (A1406) which would permanently create sealed birth certificates for some individuals (link from June 2010), I’d say that Pertman isn’t interested in “rights” at all. What he’s pushing is what I’ve come to call openness™ in adoption, which is, first and foremost, a marketing position taken by the adoption industry, which is why I sarcastically add the italics and trademark to the word.

openness™ is not focused on individuals, so it actually doesn’t take the fact that individuals have rights that apply to everyone as a fundamental basis for policy. openness™ is, instead, primarily about preserving and growing the institution of adoption, through rehabilitating the public perception of adoption through marketing the idea that everyone involved in adoption will come to feel good about it, and about each other. It is about the relationships among the people involved with adoption, mediated, if not being the outright puppets of, the state and the institutions of adoption, including agencies and attorneys involved with adoption. All of this is to grease the rails so that more and “better” adoptions occur: parents, particularly mothers, must give up their children and their privacy of medical information, adopters get assurances that they’re receiving a quality product, and adoptees… well, if everyone else thinks it’s okay, they might get access to, perhaps, some portion of an official record of their origin, to which they have, under the openness™ model, no absolute right, merely the possibility of an arbitrary privilege of access.

It’s not surprising that self-described “Bastards,” with knowledge of history and experience with adoption politics, have a problem with this. Members of Bastard Nation, the adoptee rights organization, have successfully worked to open birth certificates to all adoptees in several states including Oregon in 2000. Recently BN helped hold the line against proposed legislation in Oregon that would have reversed that ten-year-old victory, limiting birth certificate access only to those adoptees “whose birth parent has filed a Consent to Release of Original Birth Certificate,” to quote from the proposed legislation. It is this kind of threat to the fundamental rights of adoptees that is enabled by the openness™ regime; when the right to access is not taken as absolute and inviolable, virtually any trivial objection by anyone else who was involved with or once participated in an adoption may be allowed to take precedence over that right.

This week, Adam Pertman and the EBD will be hosting an event in New York that they call “For The Records.” As with Pertman’s other activities, from reading the invitation on the EBD website, it’s not altogether clear how anything about this event will actually support advocacy of legislation that opens birth certificates for all adoptees. It’s more about the vague language of openness™, which is all about marketing the institution of adoption, not the reality of effective advocacy for open records legislation. And since it’s all about the marketing of openness™ and promotion of the institution of adoption as clean, wholesome and desirable, the event takes on the form of some kind of bizarre corporate promotion, complete with musical and comedic entertainment:

  • Oprah Winfrey, who is not going to be present, nor, as far as I know, is in any way substantially connected with Pertman or EBD, is named on the invite through reference to an “Oprah Winfrey Reunion Story” that we’re all supposed to already be familiar with. Those of us who aren’t completely transfixed by celebrities or who consider following the details of Oprah Winfrey’s life a waste of time might find this reference a bit mystifying, but I suppose such contortions on the part of this event’s promoters are absolutely necessary, lest they miss the opportunity to associate their brand with a public figure loved and followed by millions.
  • Appearances by two celebrities, rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Zara Phillips
  • The “world premier” [sic] of the two-year-old music video featuring McDaniels and Phillips that’s all about openness™ but that fails to convey the basic fact that opening birth certificates is a matter between adopted individuals and the state, not between them and their parents
  • Book signings of allegedly “just published” books by Adam Pertman  and Zara Phillips. Pertman’s book is a “revised and updated” edition of his “Adoption Nation” from 2000, Phillips’ is the US edition of her 2008 UK release. Like any other marketing-focused event, there are books and videos to be promoted.
  • A video by comedienne Alison Larkin, who likewise has a book to promote and a career to keep afloat.
  • Video from, and appearance of, filmmaker Jean Strauss, who is best known among some for her involvement with California CARE, and an abortive effort to introduce a bill there that would have taken a bad situation for adoptees in California, and made it much worse.  Strauss, author of a “guide to search and reunion,” likewise has a  number of DVD’s and books for sale on her website.

So if you’re keeping score, you’d know by now that of all the announced guests, only one has been involved with spearheading an organized legislative effort: Jean Strauss. But Strauss, in the course of organizing that doomed effort, has explicitly denied that open birth certificates are a civil right of adoptees. Regarding the advocacy of her organization in California, she wrote,  “… this is not an effort to ‘right a wrong’ or a ‘fight for our Constitutional rights’.” This exactly matches the model of openness™ which likewise deliberately evades the fact that individuals have rights with respect to the state, that should apply to everyone. In the same letter, Strauss threw some unknown number of adoptees overboard, announcing that their goal was only “of providing access to original birth records for as many California adult adoptees 18 and older as possible.” From the looks of the proposed legislation, that would have been very few California adoptees indeed.

Adoptee rights activists who have successfully organized legislative efforts in states like Alabama, New Hampshire, and Oregon – where birth certificates are open without conditions – are nowhere to be found on this stage. That is as it should be, because what this event is about is marketing of everything else about adoption, particularly the mystique – to those who aren’t adopted –  of search and reunion necessitated by sealed records. The substance of equal rights for adoptees cannot be found amidst all the pontificating about how wonderful adoption is, and the selling of products. The language of equal rights may appear there, but only in service to the industry, and to the marketing: of videos, of books, of celebrities and their careers, of the position papers and testimony offered by Adam Pertman and his organization.

There’s a hint of where this leads, right there in the description of the event on EBD’s page, where they claim the event is about “the need for states to restore adult adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates” (my emphasis). This language is disingenuous with respect to human rights, as it points out a need for justice, but is not attached to an exact definition, a concrete plan,  demonstrated actions, or an organizational history that shows how those rights might uniformly be gained for all people. A perpetual need, never fulfilled, for such access may well fill a particular marketing niche among the promoters of the institution of adoption; it provides a subject to talk about, to gain entry into the halls of legislatures as well as the media, through a never-ending series of search-and-possibly-reunion stories made possible by the inaccessibility of birth certificates that document the historical fact of one’s birth. openness™, and its cousin, conditional access legislation, might grant birth certificate access to only a very privileged few adoptees. The passage of conditional access legislation is the legacy of EBD’s vague, unfocused advocacy and self-promotion.

A genuine initiative that actually worked to grant open birth certificates to all adoptees, across the board, would speak with clarity to act as a civil rights movement for adoptees. (Such a movement has long existed, but it won’t be participating in EBD’s spectacles.)  The vagueness and ineffectiveness of openness™, with much obfuscating talk of search, reunion and medical histories, builds upon ongoing, continued injustice, and mere talk of rectification, as a framework for perpetual marketing of the institution of adoption.  That is why Adam Pertman’s adoption marketing poses an ongoing threat to human rights.

The letter I sent this morning to all Illinois Senators with regard to HB5428, legislation which purports to open birth certificates but in reality creates bureaucratic and statutory blocks for many if not most adoptees. Access to birth certificates must be unconditional.

Dear Senator:

I am writing to urge you to vote NO on HB5428, which is NOT an adoptee rights bill, nor is it an open records bill.

This bill – far from opening records or preserving rights – instead creates new statutory and bureaucratic roadblocks between adoptees and their unaltered birth certificates.

Unlike all other citizens, who may simply request and receive a copy of their birth certificate, adult adoptees are regularly treated unequally and are denied their civil right to equal access to government-held records simply as a consequence of their personal circumstances as a minor.

HB5428 does not correct this fundamental injustice and unfairness. While giving lip service to “the basic right of all persons to access their birth records,” the bill’s provisions do not give access to “all” persons. It sets up a bureaucracy that, among other things, would make that access conditional to the whims of others, and conditional on the date of the adoptee’s birth.

If birth record access is a “basic right,” why is an 80 page document required to set forth all the conditions negating that “basic right?”

I would suggest instead that an effective, uncomplicated, inexpensive and non-bureaucratic means to restore this basic right to adoptees may be stated in a single sentence. This is the entire text of the Oregon ballot measure which proposed releasing birth certificates to adoptees. Adoptees in that state have had unconditional access to their birth certificates since 2000.

“Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the state of Oregon shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Oregon pursuant to ORS 432.120 and 432.146. Contains no exceptions.”

Certain parties may claim that there are other conflicting interests that somehow demand that access be made conditional upon the whims of others. Courts have held that those who have relinquished or have lost custody of children no longer hold any rights concerning the adoptee upon relinqishment. The state’s impoundment of birth certificates, denying access to adoptees, is a completely separate matter that has become an unnecessary aspect of the adoption process.

It is long past time that the relationship between the adoptee and the state be recognized to be the same as that of any other citizen. Like all other citizens, adoptees must have these unconditional rights restored to them: the right to obtain government records pertaining to them, and the right to demand that secret, inaccessible files not be held by the state that pertain to them, that document the facts of their birth and early childhood.

Please vote NO on HB5428. Thanks for your consideration.

Mike Doughney

American citizens pose for a photo at police headquarters in the international airport of Port-au-Prince, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. Associated Press photo/Ramon Espinosa.

In my earlier post I suggested that the overwhelming demands to move children out of Haiti for adoption elsewhere were in a way a twisted expression of American consumerism. I wrote, “It…. matches the consumerist mindset, in which by simply acquiring the right things – even your very own “orphan” – your situation, and that of the world, will improve.”

I didn’t quite expect that in little more than 24 hours, events, driven by a founder of a company that sells consumer products online, would serve to drive home that point and others I was trying to make. It’s the mythology of international adoption that is driving American prospective adopters, politicians and Christian organizations to organize the exporting of Haitian children to the United States, amid calls for legislation to simplify adoptions for prospective adopters by creating a dedicated office for it at the State Department.

Central to those calls was the demand for rapid visa approvals from the State Department. Seldom heard from this crowd was any mention that the Haitians, assisted by aid organizations, might have some interest in monitoring, or even restricting completely, the flow of unaccompanied children out of their country, making the issue of the State Department’s speed rather moot.

Most American churchgoing suburbanites are unable to drop everything, get on a plane and run off to Haiti and see if they can, for themselves, run their own version of what some of us are calling “Rendell’s Raid,” in which the governor of Pennsylvania flew to Haiti, twisted the arms of various politicians, put pressure on what was left of the Haitian government, and finally, packed more than 50 of Haiti’s children on a U.S. military plane. But inevitably, someone with some means and willing accomplices, if not connections, would actually make such an attempt – this time, ending with ten Americans being arrested by Haitian police. At this writing it’s very likely that they’re sitting in jail cells in Port-au-Prince.

It’s clear from all the documentation available online that one of the primary people involved with all this is Laura Silsby, the founder and CEO of, an online gift shopping service based in Boise. Through a bit of digging online, mainly on Facebook, its obvious that there are numerous connections between Silsby and the others arrested, including Paul Thompson, the pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.

It’s on Thompson’s church website where the “smoking gun” can be found, a document completed on January 19 which outlines the entire plan, for a so-called “rescue mission” to Haiti, to scoop up 100 children, some unspecified portion of them directly off the streets of Port-au-Prince, and to transport them to a temporary headquarters in a newly-rented hotel in Santo Domingo. But the whole document reads like a bit of a pipe dream; it has that feel of a lot of evangelical writing, where the expectations of the writer aren’t quite connected to the physical realities of the planet.

Silsby lists herself in this document as the “Executive Director and Founder” of “New Life Children Refuge,” a brand-new nonprofit organization which filed its incorporation papers with the state of Idaho just two months ago. Interesting, that the incorporation papers read “Personal Shopper” at the top of every page, suggesting they were sent from a fax machine at the office. There isn’t any evidence of this “Refuge” having even so much a website or a telephone number, much less any substantial tangible resources, but that didn’t stop Silsby.

From their “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission” plan (local copy here):

The Plan:

Rescue Orphans from Port au Prince, Haiti

  • Friday/Saturday, Jan 22nd : NLCR team fly to the DR
  • Sun Jan 23rd: Drive bus from Santo Domingo into Port au Prince, Haiti and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages, then return to the DR
  • Mon Jan 24th: Bus arrives in Cabarete, DR at New Life Children Refuge

The obvious problems with this “plan” are numerous, from even just these few lines. The trip from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince, as can be easily learned through a brief online search, is over six hours by scheduled bus under normal conditions. Were they serious about making a daytrip out of this run, it would have been little more than a snatch-and-grab of whatever kids they could have found on the streets over a few hours.

For whatever reason, they didn’t finally attempt to return to the Dominican Republic until January 29, almost a week later than they planned.  Regardless, this plan made their intent very clear: they thought they could just show up in Port-au-Prince unannounced, pick up some kids from some unspecified place that they couldn’t identify beforehand, and drive them back across the border.

As if this complete cluelessness about the conditions under which they could legitimately pick up and transport Haitian kids wasn’t enough, their facilities in Santo Domingo didn’t exist. They were going to rent a hotel for the Haitian children to land in, until they could implement the rest of their “plan” of building their own facility.

  • Interim New Life Children Refuge Location: NLCR is in the process of buying land and building an orphanage, school and church in Magante on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Given the urgent needs from this earthquake, God has laid upon our hearts the need to go now vs. waiting until the permanent facility is built. He has provided an interim solution in nearby Cabarete, where we will be leasing a 45 room hotel and converting it into an orphanage until the building of the NLCR is complete. This interim location will enable us to provide a loving environment for up to 150 children, from infants to 12 years old.

It’s not clear where the expectation that building a new orphanage for 150 children in the Dominican Republic would be something that a bunch of suburbanites from Idaho without extensive experience with such a project, and considerable resources, could pull off even over the course of many years. There’s no evidence that anyone involved with this little operation was in any way already familiar with Haiti or the Dominican Republic, except perhaps from some short-term visit as a missionary tourist. Often, when browsing people’s profiles on Facebook, their previous experience and interests are obvious, and when someone is actually familiar with things like international adoption, relief work, or long-term missions – which is clearly what’s intended in this description – it shows. But not here.

Nobody in this crowd seems to have any international experience at all to speak of. When, for example, you look at their Facebook profiles, like that of Laura Silsby, you’ll see things like the fact that they’re a “fan” of Sarah Palin, or a “fan” of the Manhattan Declaration, the anti-gay, anti-abortion, statement issued by a bunch of prominent evangelical personalities including convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson. Others are “fans” of things like the local anti-abortion groups, or maybe, the Southern Baptist disaster response organization. Anything that might indicate an in-depth knowledge of the task and that part of the world that would be necessary to accomplish that sort of mission? It’s just not there.

There’s another peculiar aspect to this “plan” document. In the “Prayer Requests” section, which often summarizes the things that the writer either doesn’t know or hopes won’t go wrong, are these entries:

Prayer Requests

  • For discernment of God’s will and direction throughout this trip and for Him to prepare the way before us
  • For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the DR
  • For God to guide us to the children He wants us to bring to NLCR and for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing

The second of these reflects the same kind of myopia often seen among adopters, and currently, American politicians, extending to the State Department, when dealing with international adoption. Emphasis is always placed on the receiving end, while any concerns on the part of the family or country of origin of these children is completely disregarded or viewed as false or illegitimate. Here, Silsby only cares that the Dominican Republic grant permission for them to bring in the children they’ve already collected. Even after all the recent press coverage that’s been given to the problem of child trafficking in Haiti, and the work by the Haitian government and NGOs to require full documentation of the status of each child departing the country, Silsby seems to think that that concern does not apply to her.

This became clear after her arrest, where she repeated her claim that approval from the Dominican Republic was all that was required:

But Laura Sillsby from the Idaho group told Reuters from a jail cell at Haiti’s Judicial Police headquarters, “We had permission from the Dominican Republic government to bring the children to an orphanage that we have there.”

“We have a Baptist minister here (in Port-au-Prince) whose orphanage totally collapsed and he asked us to take the children to the orphanage in the Dominican Republic,” Sillsby added.

“I was going to come back here to do the paperwork,” Sillsby said. “They accuse us of children trafficking. This is something I would never do. We were not trying to do something wrong.”

As I wrote previously, when examining the world of international adoption, there’s this element of oscillation between the global and the personal. If you grow up into a privileged, successful, entrepreneurial suburbanite in a country where people you respect are going around saying things like, “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,” perhaps when you find yourself in a “crappy little country” you might think you can do whatever you want without being suspected of something heinous like child trafficking. Silsby and her entourage seem to have found out otherwise, the hard way.

Also telling in this section is the part expecting “God” to “guide” them “to the children he wants us to bring” to their vaporware orphanage. Prayer requests are often very telling in this way; clearly, they didn’t know what they were doing, down to the basics of understanding that the only children that they might be able to take out of the country, already in the approval process for adoption, would have been identified long before they arrived in Haiti! When I say Silsby was planning a “shopping trip to Port-au-Prince,” clearly, as with other kinds of shopping, she didn’t quite know what she would be getting until she saw the merchandise.

How can someone expect to go to Haiti, do these things, and not understand that they would clearly be suspected of trafficking children?

That kind of expectation – that child acquisition and international transport by Americans can never be questioned or challenged – on the part of people like Laura Silsby is exactly what I was working to explain in my last post, where I wrote:

Television provides an illusion of participation, that by simply watching a moving image the viewer feels that they’re somehow involved in events in a far away place. But because merely being a television viewer is unsatisfying in such times, many feel moved to act in some way. The things that an average American can do with respect to such huge tragedies are few; often the only answer is to send money. The popularization of international adoption, even when the practice is overwhelmingly corrupt and may violate human rights, seems to me to fill exactly this void; the impulse to get one’s hands on the children of an earthquake-ravaged country is created by these media portrayals of external calamity interacting with the cultural predisposition that it’s the American national mission to save the rest of the planet.

This self-defined role of planetary savior, that through adoption almost anyone can indulge in, a romantic and ostensibly altruistic myth, is exactly that: role-playing. It exists independent of the actual children and people of Haiti and their realistic needs. It’s the extension of the American exceptionalist myth, expressed through its military and foreign policy of planetary enforcer and order-keeper (regardless of actual results on the ground after billions of dollars are spent), made accessible to any citizen who’s willing to meet the most basic requirements, and who can afford the fees. It also matches the consumerist mindset, in which by simply acquiring the right things – even your very own “orphan” – your situation, and that of the world, will improve.

The solution for the children of Haiti, created by those who see the world through these lenses, is simplistic, crude and appeals to the acquisitional American who thinks they can buy or trade for anything and by doing so will do no harm, to the point that we now see suggestions like this one: “What if….we could find a plane that had just dropped a load of humanitarian aid and load it up with orphans?” There’s no hiding that the writer of that sentence, a professional promoter of adoption in the Christian context, thinks it’s a fair trade: he drops off aid, he extracts “orphans” to satisfy the enormous demand he’s been helping to create in his subculture for adoptable children. If the “orphans” don’t actually exist, they would have to be manufactured, through the endless redefinition of the term, “orphan,” which today seldom means what people think it means.

When I say that evangelicals (and not exclusively evangelicals) regularly seek to strip-mine less fortunate countries of their children, I’m not using that terminology for its shock value. People like Laura Silsby are seeking to establish an industry of extracting Haitian children for adoption by Americans. The third page of their so-called “rescue mission” lays out a long-term plan – hopefully permanently derailed – to create a fully vertically-integrated industrial operation in Santo Domingo to obtain and prepare Haitian children for export, into international adoption.

Future Buildings and Plans for NLCR in Magante

  • Nueva Vida Refugio de Ninos: Provide a loving Christian home‐like environment for up to 200 children, both boys and girls, initially focused on ages 0 ‐ 10 years old, later expanding to include teens up to age 16.
  • Nueva Vida Escuela Cristiana: Provide a solid education for children in the refuge as well as in the local community if have sufficient space/resources. Plan to begin with PreSchool/Kindergarten up to 6th grade, teaching English/Spanish, Reading, Math, Science, History, Geography, Health, Music/Art, as well as Christian values/truths. Plan to add higher grades and courses on vocational skills when needed.
  • Nueva Vida en Christo Capilla: On site Chapel for the children from the refuge and the community
  • Sick Bay/Medical care: for incoming children that are in need minor medical care
  • Greenhouse/Livestock: Provide for nutritional needs of the children by growing fruits and vegetables and raising cows/chickens for milk and eggs
  • Seaside Villas at Playa Magante*: Villas for adopting parents to stay while fulfilling requirement for 60‐90 day visit as well as Christian volunteers/vacationing families.
  • Provide opportunities for adoption through partnership with New Life Adoption Foundation which works with adoption agencies in the U.S. to help facilitate adoptions and provide grants to subsidize the cost of adoption for loving Christian parents who would otherwise not be able to afford to adopt.
  • Seaside Café at Playa Magante*: small beachfront restaurant serving the community and adopting parents

Looked at from the point of view of an entrepreneur, what are these things? First, establish a warehouse for the merchandise, and processing facilities to make the merchandise suitable for the customer. Second, expedite the process of governmental approval which customers must obtain, making them as comfortable as possible while they fulfill the government’s mandate of a 60-90 day stay. Third, provide financing for the customers. Fourth, provide food and refreshment to the customers, which along with the lodging provides a “bubble” in which customers need not interact with the locals.

But as a business plan, there’s nothing to it, if the people putting it forward can’t seem to grasp the basic illegality of its initial premise. The children of Haiti are not theirs to process and export, to satisfy the endless demand for adoptable children without history, a demand their mythology creates.

I made some observations on my “About” page, some years ago, about the relationship between the practice of adoption and the way in which many Americans view the rest of the world. In recent days, that relationship has become quite obvious in the media coverage that has followed the earthquake in Haiti, and the subsequent actions by organizations, politicians, and prospective adopters in this country.

baltimore-sun-website-201001221610Unlike the self-described “bastards” I know, love, and work with, my personal interest in these matters is a little different, as I have no direct personal involvement with adoption beyond the fact that I live with a “bastard.” For me the subject connects with my interests in understanding how people handle information. Having had a tiny hand in popularizing the Internet years ago, how has the ‘net, and the concurrent growth of 24-hour television news, improved, or warped, how people view the world around them? Of course, one of the primary interests of “Bastards” – obtaining unaltered birth certificates that disclose historical facts of their origins – is likewise tightly connected with this issue of how people handle, or mishandle, or can’t handle, information, or construct elaborate structures of misinformation. Recent events are more about the global than the personal, but still these realms overlap, or oscillate from second to second, from the international to the individual.

I summed it up in a recent one-liner: “A city of millions of people leveled, and what’s on ABC tonight? ‘Is the baby I ordered still on its way?’” I was referring to a multi-night series of stories on Nightline, a program that’s been completely worthless ever since Ted Koppel retired. Days later, the habit continues, as with the Baltimore Sun website pictured. It’s all adopters, all the time. From the looks of it you’d think there have regularly been thousands of adoptions out of Haiti every year, and this vital flow was in danger of being interrupted.

Facts are, that’s not the case. There it is, on the U.S. State Department’s website: “The Total Adoptions from HAITI from 1998 to 2009 is: 2712.”  Twelve years, averaging two hundred twenty six every year. That is all.

Throw “haiti adoption” into Google News right now, how many hits do you get? “About 6,102.” That’s not counting the ads for international adoption and adoption agencies that will also show up on the search results. “Adopt from China, Russia, Haiti, Guatemala, and more!”

It doesn’t help that elected officials here in the U.S. don’t seem to have more important things to do with their time, and hop on the adoption bandwagon while it’s in the media spotlight. Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, his Federal judge wife, and U.S. representative Jason Altmire fly to Haiti on a chartered plane to transport over fifty children from an orphanage run by two Pittsburgh suburbanites. It doesn’t matter that the Haitian government hadn’t signed off on letting 26 of those children out of the country. Two American women pitch a hissy fit, Rendell and Altmire work the White House to pressure what’s left of the Haitian government, and the next thing you know all 54 children are on a U.S. military plane.

When those children got to Pittsburgh – transported on the pretense that they were “already in the pipeline for adoption” – the truth comes out: seven of them hadn’t even been matched with adoptive parents. They ended up in a faith-based residential treatment center that had only 24 hours to prepare for their arrival.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of needy kids here in America, and in Pennsylvania. Eventually, that fact merits a small mention, here in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

But social service providers – and the Rendell administration – have a message for the families willing to open their homes and hearts: Don’t forget the 3,000 Pennsylvania children waiting for permanent homes.

“While the plight of the Haitian orphans has attracted much attention, it is important to recognize the many other children for whom we are always working to find a supportive family and safe home environment,” said Harriet Dichter, acting secretary of the state Department of Public Welfare.

Child advocate Cathleen Palm said that when she heard about the rush to adopt the Haitian children, she wished there was a way to assemble all the needy Pennsylvania children in a stadium and have the governor rescue them.

“We want to make sure people aren’t losing sight of the fact that kids are in crisis in Pennsylvania, too,” said Palm.

Why is it, when Pittsburgh has its own share of needy children, many in foster care, that all this attention – and the involvement of state and federal politicians – has been focused on Haitian children, attention that has as its goal, moving large numbers of them out of their country?

Perhaps a small hint of what might actually be going on here comes from this comment I saw go by on Facebook: ”I saw the little boy that Cooper Anderson helped pull from the rubble and he looked good, but you could tell he is still shell-shocked. That’s the one I would take home with me for a while…”

Television provides an illusion of participation, that by simply watching a moving image the viewer feels that they’re somehow involved in events in a far away place. But because merely being a television viewer is unsatisfying in such times, many feel moved to act in some way. The things that an average American can do with respect to such huge tragedies are few; often the only answer is to send money. The popularization of international adoption, even when the practice is overwhelmingly corrupt and may violate human rights, seems to me to fill exactly this void; the impulse to get one’s hands on the children of an earthquake-ravaged country is created by these media portrayals of external calamity interacting with the cultural predisposition that it’s the American national mission to save the rest of the planet.

This self-defined role of planetary savior, that through adoption almost anyone can indulge in, a romantic and ostensibly altruistic myth, is exactly that: role-playing. It exists independent of the actual children and people of Haiti and their realistic needs. It’s the extension of the American exceptionalist myth, expressed through  its military and foreign policy of planetary enforcer and order-keeper (regardless of actual results on the ground after billions of dollars are spent), made accessible to any citizen who’s willing to meet the most basic requirements, and who can afford the fees. It also matches the consumerist mindset, in which by simply acquiring the right things – even your very own “orphan” – your situation, and that of the world, will improve.

The solution for the children of Haiti, created by those who see the world through these lenses, is simplistic, crude and appeals to the acquisitional American who thinks they can buy or trade for anything and by doing so will do no harm, to the point that we now see suggestions like this one: “What if….we could find a plane that had just dropped a load of humanitarian aid and load it up with orphans?” There’s no hiding that the writer of that sentence, a professional promoter of adoption in the Christian context, thinks it’s a fair trade: he drops off  aid, he extracts “orphans” to satisfy the enormous demand he’s been helping to create in his subculture for adoptable children. If the “orphans” don’t actually exist, they would have to be manufactured, through the endless redefinition of the term, “orphan,” which today seldom means what people think it means.

Here again the hiding of information, and the contrast between “orphans” acquired outside the United States, and the reality of children in genuine need who might be available for domestic adoption, becomes clear. The imperative to hide information about the actual origins of children put up for adoption is one of the reasons international adoption exists. With the barriers of distance, international boundaries, and language, the entire history of what happened to these children may disappear, or be made inaccessible. The same goes for their biological parentage.

Couple that need for information hiding to a catastrophic natural disaster, and the resulting chaos and actual elimination of records, the entire history of where these children came from may be destroyed.

Contrast how that history can be hidden or destroyed in this international situation, with the prospect of domestic adoption out of foster care, where past history cannot be eliminated with such ease. This is, I think, why the governor of Pennsylvania isn’t spending the same amount of time and energy doing something for his state’s own needy kids. The facts about those kids’ lives can’t be wiped out with a plane ride, it lives on in files and records and the memories of people who might be neighbors, instead of being physically separated by thousands of miles.

After more than two weeks have passed since the earthquake, two camps have clearly emerged. One is driven by American foreign policy and all its concomitant myths and baggage as I’ve described them. Faced with a bonanza of the newly-opened opportunity to strip-mine Haiti of its children, American politicians are now calling for the State Department to set up a separate office to make sure that absolutely nothing stands in the way between American prospective adopters and Haitian children. Gordon Duguid, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, is quoted as saying, “we will send no child out of Haiti who does not have cleared, vetted and accepted parents waiting for him or her in the U.S.”  Interesting redefinition there of what a “parent” is, equivalent to “adopter,” a redefinition that’s not necessarily shared by the rest of the world. As is to be expected, there’s no mention of how the U.S. will confirm that children arriving in the U.S. from Haiti will be shown to be genuine “orphans” without any parents or family remaining in Haiti, or even relatives here.

All that matters to the State Department is satisfying the needs of prospective adopters, and all the intermediary organizations that stand to benefit by facilitating such a mass migration.

The other camp, of course, is that of UNICEF and other aid agencies that have placed a priority on the reunification of children with their families.

Meanwhile, the government of Haiti has reportedly halted the departure of so-called “orphans” from the country, for among other reasons, concerns that children might be removed from the country while they still have relatives there who could care for them.

As can be expected, the whining of a relatively tiny number of prospective adopters may now be occupying a disproportionate amount of the time of many American politicians. One example of many is this story from Terre Haute, Indiana, where a prospective adoptive family is “on an emotional roller coaster ride.” As usual, such prospective adopters, by whatever means, believe that the child they visited in some far-off country is already theirs, it’s just a matter of finishing the paperwork. Never mentioned is the possibility that the so-called “orphan” they expect to arrive any day now may not, in fact, be an orphan. Inevitably, increased scrutiny of the cases of children about to depart Haiti, on the part of government and aid organizations, will leave some American prospective adopters empty-handed.

It is in these situations where the fallout from the promotion of the mythology of romantic, altruistic, child-saving international adoption by Americans, will at least be a bit more evident. Children in poor, disaster-ravaged nations are reduced to a mere natural resource, who could easily fill that role if they could only be stacked shoulder-to-shoulder in aircraft headed back toward the United States. Their transport here serves to appease those who never question that myth and who often see their actions as heroic. It’s up to those on the ground without such an agenda to challenge that myth, to put forward the idea that adoption is not a solution to poverty, and to work toward the reunification of families separated by disaster.

For more reading:

Baby Love Child

The Daily Bastardette

Haiti Statement by Adoptees of Color Roundtable

Update: This quote was in the “sidebar” of this blog from February through September of 2008. It’s still relevant when considering the efforts of UNICEF in Haiti today.

If justice comes (and I have serious doubts that it will), it will come from the International community and NOT the United States.

- MichiganGirl, February 5, 2008

PhiladelphiaIn my last post I directed readers to my partner “Baby Love Child’s” blog, where there’s a rather lengthy, illustrated discussion of a so-called “adoptee rights demonstration” in Philadelphia last week. It’s hard to figure out where to start, since there is much I could comment on from the Sleeps with Bastard perspective. To clarify, I am Sabina’s/Baby Love Child’s partner and I provide some technical assistance with her blog. I’ll first start off with a suitably inflammatory title and these important notes:
  1. If you go out on a public street and participate in a political “march” – better yet, an event in a public place that was promoted online and to the media and that even received press coverage prior to the event – others may take your picture and write about your event. They can even write about your event in ways you don’t like. They don’t need your permission or a release from you first, and the legal precedent for this is vast.
  2. Traveling to such an event in a public place and watching it – and in fact, never at any point interacting with the event participants – doesn’t constitute “stalking.” Neither does taking pictures of the event and the people who were there and publishing them, particularly when the individuals in the photos are barely recognizable if at all, and in fact, aren’t even individually known to us.  So don’t write to us and demand that we remove our pictures of your demonstration from our blogs. We now even have a form letter with which we’ll reject each of these nonsensical requests.
  3. If you’re going to accuse people (us) of libel or slander (different legal terms meaning different things, though obviously those making those accusations can’t be bothered to know the differences), you’ll have to demonstrate that something that we wrote or said was actually false. Truth is generally an absolute defense against such claims. Just because statements made a year ago were deleted from various blogs and online forums doesn’t mean copies weren’t saved for later reference to establish what was written at the time. Those who are accusing us of libel and slander have yet to even express an understanding of what we have written, much less show any inaccuracies in our writing. We do, however, disagree strongly with the Adoptee Rights Demonstration (ARD) organizers and we maintain that the ARD in its present form may have the ultimate effect of actively undermining the cause of obtaining open records for adoptees regardless of its organizers’ and participants’ intentions.
  4. Having been completely vilified and attacked at the time for simply withdrawing our (Sabina/BLC and my) support for the ARD one year ago, and writing about that, we will not be considering any future participation in their event in any form. A number of commentators seem to think that some sort of positive engagement with ARD organizers by us is possible. It isn’t. For one example of why that was so, take a look at the comment thread on this July 2008 post from Bastardette’s blog. Commenter “joy” there and elsewhere, Joy Madsen, a current member of the ARD organizing coalition, wrote, “… there is no way we are touching them [Sabina, Marley Greiner, and Bastard Nation] with a 10 foot pole next year, we have learned our lesson. Next year… we are not letting them near us.”
  5. For current examples of invective being thrown about by members of the ARD organizing coalition, take a look at this blog post by current committee member Jimm Mandenberg that contains this: “Baby Love-child? BLC? Gimme a break. More like Bitchy Little C*nt.” There’s also, of course,  this lovely little blog post by coalition member and alleged “founder”  Kali Coultas, who did in fact not bother to show up this year to see her stillborn creation, repeating more falsehoods alleging that there was an organized Bastard Nation campaign against their event (“… BN mocks the very people who would fight hard for them. They… will turn on you in a heartbeat if needed.”) In fact, BN, organizationally, has been silent about the ARD since withdrawing from the coalition over one year ago. Coultas further alleges that by simply operating a blog, or showing up on a Philadelphia street corner to watch, Sabina/BLC “has tried to sabotage the protest from the moment she was asked to leave the committee.” Sabina and I voluntarily resigned, after a number of irregularities and the attempted involvement of an adoption agency in last year’s event came to light, and were never asked to leave, as I discuss below.
  6. ARD organizers and its “founder” falsely allege or imply that Sabina and Bastard Nation are conspiring together, by attributing commentary written by Sabina/BLC to Bastard Nation, or by claiming that Sabina was “sent” by BN, as in this by Joy Madsen: “… BN bailed, that was their choice. I mean obviously they are so busy with, with, with, well something I am sure. Not too busy to send nutter BabyCakes to stalk the protest. “ Our only relationship with Bastard Nation is as lifetime members. We do not set policy or otherwise direct the organization. Likewise, Sabina and I are independent and our writings reflect our opinions and not those of any other individuals or organizations.

That said, I’ll throw out a few more points that will perhaps clarify the rest of my comments. These come from a decade of being around activists who’ve worked on these matters in the field of restoring access to original birth certificates, with a track record of success and a great deal of knowledge of the history of these efforts.

  1. You might, in fact, want your original birth certificate. That’s great. But if the visuals and words you’re providing to the media and the public are  full of “I want my mommy” sorts of messages, when it’s time to deal with an actual bunch of legislators with the power to change the laws, don’t be surprised if they try, instead of the simple act of unsealing birth certificates, to “give you your mommy” by some other means. Namely, through the expansion of “mutual consent” registries with vetoes and the use of intermediaries, both of which insert other parties and institutions – in many cases, the same institutions that promote adoption and have an interest in keeping records sealed – between you and your birth certificate.
  2. Likewise, emphasis on finding “my mommy” brings up a whole set of complicating details, that often involve the gross misuse, misunderstanding and outright abuse of the word, “privacy.” So every public discussion that drags in the slightest whiff of the stench of “I want my mommy” gets answered with some intentionally-created-out-of-thin-air obstruction like “We must respect your mommy’s ‘privacy’.” See “mutual-consent” registries, above.

whose-my-mommaExhibit A  for the above two points is the Philadelphia Inquirer article that accompanied this outright assault on the cause of adoptee rights orchestrated in the form of the so-called “Adoptee Rights Demonstration.” With a photo of a “demonstrator” carrying a sign saying “WHOSE MY MOMMA” – let’s hear it for the organizers who certainly went out of their way to check demonstrators’ signs for horribly stupid, humiliating spelling errors – the article is yet another litany of the manufactured objections to open records  by the institutions who have the most to lose from open records, containing no articulation or response to those objections. It makes adoptees look like delusional children.

I understand that some ARD organizers are quite proud of that article. Perhaps they suffer from some problem with gross illiteracy or even simple understanding of what actually appeared in the newspaper; certainly the photo suggests that the ARD has some general difficulty dealing with the English language.

It’s not enough to see yourself reflected in a newspaper article. The rest of the article isn’t about you. It’s about maintaining the status quo of sealed birth certificates; today, much of the function of the press has become maintaining the status quo and ridiculing, mocking and making impotent those who advocate change. ARD, with its childish signs and messaging, fell right into their trap.

As I wrote above in # 4 of the first list, Sabina, Bastard Nation, Marley Greiner, and others along with I were attacked and vilified for merely withdrawing our support of the “Adoptee Rights Demonstration” one year ago and speaking about it. That withdrawal and its aftermath set the stage for what is happening now.

There’s a fundamental difference between those who continued with these demonstrations and us, and that is that we want to see, and work toward, concrete progress toward open records.

Despite many claims that the ARD organizers likewise are working toward open records, as far as I can tell, the ARD organizers are instead solely focused on a (poorly funded and ineffective) presence and awareness raising at this particular yearly conference, hopefully, from their perspective  in perpetuity, paid for by others in the community, and a(n attempt at a) street “demonstration”  nearby. Neither can be shown to stand a snowball’s chance in hell of producing such progress. Neither has generated any progress over the past year since the first event in New Orleans. (We’ve asked if there is any evidence of progress as a result of ARD 2008. None has been forthcoming. It seems these questions are sidestepped by wild accusations of “slander” and “stalking” directed at us, perhaps because we merely raised this question.)

When the pointlessness of the event became evident to us last year, along with all other irregularities, we pulled out. I’d written on my blog how among other reasons, the active involvement of an adoption agency, which was fundraising by using the demonstration as some kind of marketing opportunity, without our knowledge and consent, and the close relationship between one of the organizers (Amy Burt, aka “Amy Adoptee”) and that agency, fundamentally made this something that I could not be involved with.

But I think there’s a kind of perfect storm here, which starts with a group of people who basically knows nothing about how government works and doesn’t care to learn. (Here’s one such example.) As is true of a lot of noise we see elsewhere, government seems to serve as a kind of sink for complaints that government cannot rectify. “I want my mommy,” clearly front and center among the “demonstrators,” is one such complaint, which is another part of this perfect storm; it’s the personal component. But that won’t get you an open birth certificate because the government can’t get you your mommy for you, nor can it get you your medical records.

The third part is the basic militant ignorance of members of the ARD coalition who, when faced with people who see what they’re doing and choose not to participate (and worse yet, clearly articulate why they refuse to participate), cast them out as outsiders, and lash out at them should they dare comment on their continuing actions which are potentially damaging to, generally, all activists everywhere and the cause of open records. Going to watch, to confirm that the event actually took place, and so that we can knowledgeably and accurately discuss their action,  just gets us labeled as “stalkers,”  since to them we are clearly already the enemy for simply refusing to participate in what we’ve come to believe is a destructive effort.

There was to have been a  ”bastard boot camp,” an educational session that was to have been a core component of the New Orleans ARD event while Bastard Nation was involved with it. BN offered a preliminary educational effort, before people went out on the street or met with legislators, discussing the history of sealed records and open records activism, and what strategies, rhetoric and tactics have been effective in opening records in the states that BN has helped open.

Unfortunately, these plans were met with a clear, militant, outraged, contemptuous  response from a subset of ARD organizers, many of whom remain today. They believed that they  did not need, nor would they participate in, such an instructional session. It also became clear that we were dealing with a narcissistic bunch of uneducatable, incurious fools who would do whatever they were going to do without regard for how much damage they would do to the cause, both through their uncivil online behavior and their incapability of sticking to a rational focused message that would result in open records legislation instead of some alternative mess like the most recent round in California (to address “privacy”) or state mandated mediators or registries (as an alternate but ineffective method of finding one’s mommy while continuing to empower the adoption industry’s institutions.)

So as for the comments we’re seeing in various threads noting our non-participation and asking why we aren’t involved and actively engaging with the ARD organizers,we have done that, to no avail;  this is why we cannot do that, they won’t let us do that, they’ve demonstrated since last year that they will take zero constructive input from us. Unfortunately, their actions, without the involvement of BN or any group of experienced activists who’ve historically worked around this issue, is making  adoptee rights activism look ridiculous. That the ARD organizers don’t recognize that that’s what they’re doing, and call any criticism that points that out to them “slander,” makes clear that civil discussion with them is impossible.

The fact that ARD leaders completely avoid considering what messages they are sending becomes obvious when they complain that Sabina “attacked” a 13 year old for posting a YouTube video. In fact, if the 13 year olds among this group of adults are coming away from the event with a message, spread all over the net, that continues to infantilize adults as eternal children, incapable of self-defining as mature individuals and political actors – and that, if popularized, will undercut any future efforts to obtain open records – an objection must be raised. This is clearly the message that the next generation gets from ARD – and ARD organizers seem quite pleased with this result!

The creation of a video montage with pictures of adults, and labeling them “forgotten children,” only serves make all future political progress impossible. It plays into the widespread, pre-existing insistence that adoptees will be forever children, without the rights of adults, including the right to an unaltered birth certificate. That ARD organizers are incapable of seeing the problem of this message shows what the ARD has become: a group of narcissistic, blathering, clueless and ultimately ineffectual people, who cannot be bothered to understand that some messages that their participants (regardless of age) come away from the event with will completely undermine any progress toward their alleged goal of opening records. But of course, if the actual goal is completely inwardly focused on this group of individuals, their social interactions, their group’s self-perpetuation, and their issues that would better be handled in therapy rather than out on the street, then we’ll just be seeing more of this, and perhaps, no further progress toward open records for the next few lifetimes, were they to become the sole focus of adoptee activism.

Fortunately, there are viable and experienced alternatives.


The above is not a picture of Baby Love Child; it’s the author of a blog entry that she tagged “Baby Love Child Sucks.”

(A great example of a title gone wrong when inevitably displayed out of context.)

I’ll heartily agree with the “time to run” sentiment as it appears here!

I’ll probably blog more about this ongoing fiasco that “demonstrated” only that “activism” in the sense of going out on the street and doing… something… is dead… later.

In the meantime, for those of you with an attention span longer than that of a gnat, check out my partner Sabina/Baby Love Child’s in-depth analysis and commentary.

I commented over on The Daily Bastardette on the circumstances of Bastard Nation’s withdrawal from the “Day for Adoptee Rights.”

I am merely a lifetime member of Bastard Nation and have no formal role with the organization.

When an event planner books a block of hotel rooms, and about a month and a half before the event (that’s been talked about for most of a year) a miniscule number of people have made the most minimal effort to pick up the phone and make a fully cancelable hotel reservation – thus signing their name to their intended participation in a way that matters – it is time to decide whether or not the event is viable.

Bastard Nation’s leadership, as far as I can tell, has evaluated the situation and made what I think is the only sane decision.

The actions of Abrazo, while critically important and disturbing in their own way, are distinct from the fact that, at the time the decision was made, nearly nobody was attending, and that’s what the decision had to be based on.

A mailing list of people who may be casually interested in the event, and even a verbal statement that someone hopes to come (which included some organizers of the event but not me/us), is not sufficient to gauge interest. Since there’s no formal registration involving paying a fee as there would be with a conventional conference, this is a reasonable alternative to measure how many people are seriously considering coming, even if some were planning to stay with relatives or friends.

I think it’s obvious that if you’re coming to a conference or other event like this, you first register for the event, and then you book your hotel room. This shows the organizers your intent to do something, because if you don’t you’re going to have to make another call and cancel that hotel room.

I do this all the time. It’s not rocket science.

Since there’s been a distinct lack of adoption content here, even though I’ve promised to eventually write on that subject, I thought I’d repost this. This is something that I had to write last night in an invitation-only venue. “OBC” refers to “original birth certificate.”

I am not here to promote adoption. I am not here to create events or other means that others coopt so they can continue strip mining pregnant women for product.

This is about getting information out of the state, without compromise. This is not about teaming up with the industry’s marketing efforts that are not about getting information out of the state, but about continuing and growing their business, and nothing else. They will compromise and bargain away unconditional access to OBC’s because they have no stake in those OBC’s, only their business of selling kids on their own terms independent of the state.

The contents of [an adoption agency's] websites are about the terms by which they move product, not about how bastards everywhere are going to gain their OBC’s.

Update (June 1/5:37pm ET), to include a bit of background:

This is an adoption agency collecting money through a website that makes reference to an “adoptee rights demonstration.” Note on the top of the page that “donations to the cause benefit ABRAZO ADOPTION ASSOCIATES,” the agency itself.

This is a person who is subscribed to an organizer’s mailing list for that same “adoptee rights demonstration,” a list that was set up by the primary organizer of the demonstration. Here she is encouraging donors to give money to that same adoption agency.

This is my partner’s resignation from an organizing role with that “adoptee rights demonstration.”

Update (June 2/12:37am ET): The formal announcement by Bastard Nation withdrawing from the event includes even more details on this matter.