The Not Quite Live Report About Not Really Testifying
So to begin the rescheduled public hearing for A909, the NY Adoptee Rights bill, was on a really bad day for me. My dear daughter turns 13 today and while I do dread having a teenager in the house, she does deserve a celebration because she is pretty excellent. So despite planning on having 8 girls sleepover, I figured I did not have enough to do with making cupcakes and all, so I planned on testifying on behalf of A909 the Bill of Adoptee Rights in New York State.
Hudson Valley Represents! HV’s Travelling Adoption Triad
So with my RSVP in to NYS, my copies of my testimony made, my red silk shirt freshly laundered, I got up at 5am today (I think I ONLY do 5am for adoption related things) put on my big girl clothes and Joanie and I got on the train to NYC. Lola met us down there as she had to grab the next train due to parking being..well… a real bitch. However, all the other “getting there in time” plans worked out just fine and by 10:02, we were finding our seats in the meeting room.
The hearing was live streamed and it was great to see so many following and commenting on Facebook. I believe it will be archived and available once they get it up and if so I will link it directly once that happens.
Obviously there is so much that can be reported on, but this would be a VERY long post! So I am breaking it up appropriately.
The one thing that I feel is needed is an added Part V of Talking About Adoptee Rights To Legislators or Anyone Else which will cover my opinion of what NOT to do when discussing the issue of adoptee rights especially during opportunities such as the said hearing. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer and discourage folks, but I do see every opportunity as a lesson where we can learn from mistakes and improve.
The other issue that demands its own post is a discussion on the “The Awful Surrogate’s Court Judges”. Yes, it took all my personal restraint not to throw shoes at them, but I did find them awful enlightening as well.
Best Moments of the Adoptee Rights Hearing
So the first “illustrious” speakers on the schedule were a handful of lawyers and judges, aka the opposition. As I said, they get their own post because they were just that “special”.
My FAVORITE part about the Awful-ass Judges, was witnessing how their bullshit lies and excuses just made Adam Pertman twitch. Ok “twitching” is not the right word. It was more of a visible reaction of Adam doing what the rest of us were doing which was “not-jumping-out-of-out-seats-to- scream-LIES!!-in-their face”. However, Adam Pertman did have the time down perfectly, so that he could follow up and speak AFTER the “judges” while their words of BS still rang clear in the room. Now I do not want to put my emotions to him an say I know what he was feeling at that moment, but as a witness and hearing him? I would say his anger at the lies perpetuated was palatable. It was pretty much priceless.
Now, I do know that we usually do not want “others” to be speaking “for birthmothers“; however when our truths are magnified and expressed as perfectly as they were; then folks, I am NOT going to complain. The way I see it; what is most important is the message and that it does get received. And when it is the right message and is being received, then I am not going to find fault with the conduit.
In the same vein, having Spence Chapin also come on in strong support of this bill is also a most excellent thing. Having other professionals whether or not that are personally affected is also a great thing. An ally is an ally and I’m not going to push away any; we need all the help we can get.
I Was Supposed to Testify
I had RSVP’d and was on the list. I had said I was on a time crunch and got moved up the list to #16. And That would have worked out perfectly IF then, the list didn’t start getting messed with during the last hour. At that point, as they were bumping some waiting folks ahead due to their having to leave, I went and told the receptionist aka keeper of the list that I also was one for the folks who was going to have to leave. It wasn’t even her fault as I guess someone else was messing up her plans, but alas, the clock was ticking.
We pretty much HAD to be out of there at 2 to make the 2:43 train out of Grand Central. At 2, they called another name and we waited for those five pages of testimony to be read. I had to say at that moment, “if my name is not called next we have to go.”
- If I had been called, then I would have missed the train.
- If we did not have a huge party planed for my daughter, then I would have just missed the train.
- If it was any other day, I would have missed the train.
But, they did not call my name next and at 2:14 we rushed out and I made the train.
I AM disappointed and I DO wish I had been able to stay, but the way I see it; I already missed one child’s 13h birthday due to adoption. Adoption was not going to take another child’s birthday away from me. My family does support my work and is very understanding, but at 2:14, I had to call it. My family needed to come first.
The legislators did have copies of my testimony and I will follow up with emails, but this is what I did not get to say.
My Not Spoken Testimony at the NY Adoptee Rights Hearing:
Privacy Concerns in the Social Media Age
My name is Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy. I was born in Mineola, grew up in Massapequa Park, have lived in Manhattan and now I live in Kingston, NY.
I am birthmother. I was 19 when I relinquished my son to a closed adoption in 1987. I found him in 2004 thanks to Google. I contacted him directly on MySpace back in 2005 before social media had a name and met him in 2007. We are all very happy with our reunion.
I serve on the board of directors for the Adoptee Rights Coalition. I have spent the last five summers helping to organize the National Adoptee Rights Demonstration and lobbying at the National State Legislators Convention all over the country. I also authored Musings of the Lame, a website about adoption truths and the community of reform activists, since 2005.
In the summer of 2012, I left my employment to focus on adoption issues full time, but before that I was the Director of Social Media and trained as an Search Engine Optimization professional for DragonSearch, an internet marketing firm with offices in Manhattan and Kingston. I know the web.
I would like to take this time to directly address the concerns of the New York State legislation in terms of “birthmother confidentiality” as this is the reasoning given as to why A909 cannot be passed into law especially in terms of the internet and social media.
Aside from the fact that there could not have been “promised anonymity” as the original birth certificate was the only legal identity of the child until the adoption was finalized, and that the legality of the surrender documents have been examined and any privacy inferred was given on behalf of the adoptive parents not to the birthmothers, and that historical data supports that relinquishing mothers want contact with their grown adopted children, let’s look at what has transcribed because New York State has so far refused to restore the adult adoptees civil rights:
We know now that it is human nature to want to know where we come from. No state, no law, no decree, no signed papers, can change that. No matter what the state governments have or have not done in the past, adoptees -and birthparents – search anyway.
What could not have been known at the time that the NYS laws went into effect is the use of DNA testing and the rise of social media today. It is these two unforeseen avenues used for adoption searches which should be looked at if the legislators are really concerned about a birthmother somehow being “outed” against her will.
I do not claim to be an expert on DNA, but DNA testing through 23andme is a huge boon to adoption searches. Across the whole community, we have members submitting their cheek swabs and sending their cells into the ever growing data bases. Now, they are not being matched with their birthmothers or fathers or even siblings directly. Matches are commonly made from 3rd or 4th cousins back along the family tree and then the stories of the adoption are shared. Then the remote family members become the guides that ask hard questions within the family; trying to find the mother who relinquished her child. How is that private? How is this honoring any supposed confidentiality?
Yet this is what the state does when adoptees are denied access to one simple name that exists on their legal documentation.
At least, however, DNA matching happens usually within a family.
Social Media searches reduce the adopted citizen to begging strangers for assistance . Adoptees by the hundreds are posting images of themselves with whatever bits of information they have about their own births and posting them to Facebook, or making Facebook pages, or making YouTube videos. These images are being shared all over nationally both inside and outside the adoption community in the hopes that someone… perhaps a sister’s friend, or a cousin, or a babysitter, school mate or neighbor…might recognize the face and the circumstances surrounding the story. How is asking strangers to remembers decades old rumors and then act on them respecting any sort of privacy?
Here is Alysia from Bath, NY with over 4,000 shares of this image which resulted in over a half million possible views:
Or Tina, who is looking for twin siblings from Herkimer NY with almost 10 thousand shares which resulted in over one million one hundred and seventy seven thousand possible views.
And Mary who hails from Poughkeepsie, NY with over 11,000 shares on her plea for family which bought close to one and a half million pairs of eyes:
If the average number of friends every Facebook user has is 130, then 10,000 shares means that over 1 million three hundred people can be viewing the intimate details of a birthmothers “hidden” pregnancy before she is found by the one person who is looking for her.
Now these three ladies are not exceptions, but rather just three of many.
Take for instance, Frank who contacted me because he is looking for his birthmother who lived in my town Kingston at the time of his birth. I wrote a blog post for his story and created a Facebook page for him.
His page might only have 411 people who “like” it but a single post can be shared and seen by close to 10 thousand people:
The blog post that I wrote for him was viewed 2,085 times.
That doesn’t count twitter, or people who saw and read the information on my personal page or his or on anyone else’s personal profiles. Just close to 12,000 views that I can track. Then, there was the MSN News story that picked it up.
Legally, Frank’s mother had no privacy, but now, because he cannot have his original birth certificate, who knows how many people have read the private details of her pregnancy. But we are worried her privacy being compromised if Frank knows her name?
When all the “adoptee search photos” started making the rounds last year, another NY adoptee, Jason, put together “Adoptee Photo.com” to help share them and make sure they get indexed properly by the search engines. Jason shared his stats with me. On AdopteePhoto there has been over 16 and a half thousand visits with over 35 thousand page views in about a year’s time.
Now, these numbers are not huge by internet traffic standards, but when we consider that any and all intimate details known about an adoption are viewed by thousands of people, literal and virtual strangers, that is many pairs of eyes looking when we are “concerned” about privacy.
This bill would allow the communications between a birthmother and her adopted child to be exactly that – a communication between the parents and the adoptee.
Until we pass A909 in New York State, I can promise you that people like Jason and myself will be doing all we can to make sure that others are using the internet to its fullest potential so that they can find their families. There might come a day that all a person needs to do is put in their birth date into Google to be found because people will still search and they will reunite if they want to. But until the state passes the Adoptee Rights bill, the government will still be discriminating against adoptees and still acting out of fear.
Just don’t say it’s because of privacy concerns. The use of DNA and social media demands that we pass this bill.
More Supporting links of Adoptee Searches Nationwide: