News From Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

October 2003        Vol.1 No. 5
Please forward and redistribute by print or e-mail. Help spread the word!

By Marley Greiner, Executive Chair, Bastard Nation

The draft of the Hague implementation regulations--The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA)-- was released a few weeks ago. Bastard Nation, along with many other organizations, is currently studying this proposal and preparing comments and rebuttals to be forwarded to the State Department. As written, the proposed regulations look quite dismal. While there is much to be unhappy about the "Fox in the Hen House" regulations, the following points affect the mission of Bastard Nation, the rights of those adopted internationally, and potentially the domestic open records movement. As now written, the IAA:

--takes international adoption agency regulation and licensing-- which it nicely calls "accreditation"--out of the hands of the State Department and into the clutches of the Adoption Industry which the IAA claims will "self-regulate."

--decides who should retain records and effects and for how long based in part on cost and storage space.

--separates records and record gathering procedures and retention into "State" and "Convention" files held in different locations; the former at an agency and individual state level and the latter by an as-yet created federal Department of Homeland Security bureau.

--fails to regulate, record, and tabulate the out-sourcing of US-born children to the foreign adoption market.

--can potentially privatize adoption record retention procedures, possibly leaving at some future date, international adoptees with no records access rights via FOIA and state sunshine laws.

--could be a dry run for a Bush administration initiative to remove public records from the public realm by privatizing government records retention and to further deny the public's access to all government-held records via FOIA (see:

The current IAA proposal was clearly written to make adoption better for agencies--easier and more profitable, with little public or private accountability. Unlike the implementation language of other countries, the IAA contains NO genuine talk of best interest of birth parents, adoptive parents or adopted children and adults. The IAA grievance procedure is tedious and convoluted, created to discourage and wear down those who dare file a complaint against an agency. Rather, the IAA concentrates on accommodating industry "concerns" about "confidentiality" and "profitability" and in the end simply stands as an attempt to manipulate the marketplace and create super agencies that would control not only process but public policy. That its main thrust is accreditation, not ethical procedures, should be of grave concern to everyone in the adoption community.

Despite what IAA proponents say, in the current political climate, federalization of adult access to their own records, based on Hague precedent, is a distinct possibility. If international adoptee access to their personal information becomes limited or impossible under Hague regulations, state-held-records shut-down will not be far behind. The hens need to gather their troops now.

To read the IAA language proposal go to


"We had nearly One Hundred (100) Sacramentans come to our Reg Day this year. It was absolutely amazing! ALL sides of the triad came out, with a large percentage of adult adoptees. " So reports Bastard National Jean Uhrich who was a driving force behind the successful RegDay programs at sites all over the country. States participating this year included California, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. REG DAY is an annual international event which provides a public service by publicizing the International Soundex Reunion Registry (I.S.R.R.).

University of Wisconsin Law Review

Wisconsin Law Review: V. 2000, No. 6. Comment: A fundamental rights debate: Should Wisconsin allow adult adoptees unconditional access to adoption records and original birth certificates, by Jennifer R. Racine.

Imagine a law review article beginning with these beautiful words! " Bastards of the World Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Shame is the battle cry of the Bastard Nation, an activist group for adoptees' rights." It's true! These are the very words Jennifer Racine uses to introduce her discussion about fundamental rights and adoption in the University of Wisconsin Law Review.

Read a comprehensive review of the article in next month's Byline.


The Oregonian, Portland's major newspaper, lauded the US Census Bureau for releasing a first-ever count of adopted children in the United States. In an editorial on September 1, 2003, the editors state that putting numbers on adoptions is a step in the right direction.

Oregon is the home of Measure 58, the law which allows adult adoptees to see their original birth certificates, unconditionally upon request. The Oregonian opposed Measure 58 when it was put to the electorate, but it has since changed its stand.

"Measure 58 has on balance been good for adoptees, 7,619 of whom have requested their birth certificates, fostering countless reunions with birth parents."


"I wanted to bring y'all up-to-date on some Louisiana activities. Just got contacted this week by a New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter seeking to do an "update" story on SB 941 and where we're taking it. I told him, "Back on up to the state legislature in Baton Rouge". The article, "Adoptees Haven't Given Up," was published on October 6th.

"I told how I located my biological parents in Baton Rouge and built a warm relationship with them. But it took a judge's ruling to take possession of my personal records -- to illuminate the blank year neither my birth parents nor adoptive parents knew anything about -- even though my birth mother was in court supporting my request. This experience was the birth of a movement to change state law and make it merely a matter of paperwork, not detective work or litigation, for adult adoptees to gain access to their adoption records."

Kenny also sends news of an upcoming adoption conference sponsored by the Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board (LAAB) in New Orleans in December. It will feature a keynote address on the complexities of opening access to original birth certificates. The address is being presented by the Deputy Judicial Administrator for Children & Families with the Louisiana Supreme Court. Writes Kenny, " I've already e-mailed her offering assistance with her presentation preparation, which she's gladly accepted & encouraged."


Bastard National Maryanne Cohen presented a workshop, "A Personal History of Adoption Reform" at a conference in Lancaster, PA, in early October. The conference, "Coming Home," was sponsored by Adoption Forum to honor Penny Callan Partridge and past presidents of that group. Other presenters included Adam Pertman, Carole Schaeffer, and Linda Slobotsky.

Maryanne reports: "All in all the best part was seeing old friends like Penny, Pam and others, and the food and wine were good and cheap!"


Damsel Plum, 1997
"...allow me to say categorically that Bastard Nation is indeed militant. This does not mean that we plan to burn Cabbage Patch dolls on Gladney's front lawn or storm Vital Records offices across the nation. We do not. It does mean that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to the cause of equal rights and truth for all adult adoptees.
"And yes, we will do what it takes, from organizing and educating triadians and those who care about them on a local level to national and world-wide media campaigns on issues concerning adult adoptees. If this is militant, so be it."

Leslie LaRocco, 1997
"I think Charlie Brown must be a Bastard. Only a Bastard would keep going after that football, knowing that Lucy will probably, likely, almost certainly (oh, but there's still a hope!) pull it away at the last moment. And down he goes, again. Resilient little Bastard, our Charlie Brown. Here he comes again."

Shea Grimm, Nov. 4, 1998
"Damsel, Marley and I went through hell early on, taking abuse and working like dogs just to get BN off the ground. ... When we decided to try a ballot initiative, BN, Helen, and I in particular got ridiculed for being too extreme, too risky, and for playing around. Well, obviously we've proved we're not playing house here. We did it, guys! All of us. No matter what happens, they can't take that away from us."

Marley Greiner, 1998
"Good afternoon, Bastard Nationals and Friends of Bastard Nation - and welcome to Philadelphia and to the Liberty Bell...
"'s good to see so many happy, smiling, squeaky clean Bastardly faces out there today. There was a time, not too long ago, when nobody in their right mind would have admitted, except to his or her most trusted confidant, that they were adopted, much less show up at a national rally and proclaimed themselves a Bastard in front of God, family, and country. But those days are over."
[The Byline welcomes your comments. What is Bastard Nation according to YOU? Write us at]

Kentucky University Graduate Program

Bastard Nation has received a request from a graduate student in Social Work at a Kentucky university. The student, an adoptee, would like to work together with Bastard Nation to complete her practicum leading to her Master's degree in Social Work. Bastard Nation is eager to participate in this program and is currently working with the University on the details.


Premier Ernie Eves of Ontario called an election for Oct. 2, 2003. This means that the horrendous Bill 60 with only future adoption records open and a $100,000 fine for searching is now dead. It also means that Bill 16, the bill with contact vetoes and a mere $20,000 fine for contravention of a veto is also dead.


Mari Steed, Bastard National born in Ireland and adopted in the United States, will be attending a special conference in Dublin this month. Brian Lenihan, the Minister of Health and Children, has assembled the conference. The first day will be devoted to discussions of foreign adoption and current in-country adoption policy and process, including the Hague.

Day two will be a discussion of the proposed Adoption Bill. There will be formal submissions by a number of adoption-related groups who oppose the bill, including Bastard Nation. The bill has been highly criticized in the media, by adoption groups, and by the public in general. Among its provisions are contact vetoes with criminal penalties.

Committee members of AdoptionIrleand have sent Mari a special request: bring over some Bastard Nation T-shirts.

Where The Action Is

Stay tuned for updates and action alerts about legislation that impacts adoptee rights.


Nevada Open Website

Missouri Open

Louisiana Adoption Advocates

Arkansas Open Needs Volunteers for Future Efforts!

Virginians for Adoption Reform and Education

OORAH - Oklahoma Open Records



October 26 and 27, 2003
Sheraton St. Louis City Center Hotel
400 South 14th St., St. Louis, Missouri
Registration Fee: $35.00

Friday, Oct. 25th, 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. Hospitality Suite
Hang out! Have Fun

Saturday, Oct. 26th 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
Breakfast, Business, Brainstorming

Saturday, Oct. 26, 8:00 p.m. 'til..
BN Raffle, BN Awards, BN Fun

Sunday, Oct. 27 8:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast, Workshop: "Ballot Initiatives"
Laura Barrett, St. Louis, Missouri, is a Board Member of SNAP along with her husband, David Clohessey. She has developed a federal legislative lobbying strategy which has created a national model for grassroots lobbying.

Hotel Reservations: Phone (314) 231-5007, (888) 627-8096, or register on line at

Unlocking the Heart of Adoption
A film by Bastard National Sheila Ganz

West Coast Premier
November 7, 2003
7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Delancey Street Screening Room
600 Embarcadero at Brannan
San Francisco, CA
Tickets: $15.00
Seating is limited.

East Coast Screening
October 26, 2003
Caldwell College, N. J.
Phone: (415) 564-3691.


November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Watch this space for exciting announcements.


Terri Sawtell is the proud mommy of a 6 lb. baby girl.

David Ansardi is a proud Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Anita Walker Field will be the proud owner of a new knee.


The Magdalene Sisters
Reviewed by Mari Steed

I was invited to a private screening in Philly of THE MAGDALENE SISTERS where Peter Mullan, producer and director, was attending for a post-Q&A session.

I was lucky enough to be personally introduced to Peter after the film and ended up spending four hours with him over pints afterward. We waxed Celtic about the church, his very keen and insightful observations on adopted people and their rights, and in sum, I have to say that he "gets it."

My one-word review of the film - "Brilliant." Mullan did a great job of placing more (and very intense) focus on his characters than the larger tragedy, so you don't get overwhelmed. His cast is will take those girls home with you (be sure to leave the nunnies behind, though). He said most of the young women were local amateurs culled from open casting calls...only two are trained stage actresses.

Rolling Stone seemed a bit miffed that "all the nuns were baddies." But the truth is...they all were. The few who may have had a sympathetic bone in their body are bad for not blowing the whistle.

Mullan told me how he got the chance to tour a former Magdalene laundry, "Sunday's Well," in Cork, -- the place where my mother spent ten years.

Casa de los Babys
Reviewed by Peter Kristian Mose

In Casa de los Babys, US independent director John Sayles has turned his attention to the world of yuppie Yankee adoptions out of Central America. He profiles a group of a half-dozen white 30-something women who are ensconced in Mexico for a couple of months lounging poolside while waiting for the local bureaucracy to hand them their anticipated Mexican babies.

The women kvetch and bristle and bond, and bond and bristle and kvetch. Some of them are likeable; some less so. Most are married to unseen men who are back home in American suburbia, though one New York adoptive mom is single.

Then Sayles explores behind the scenes of the other side of the equation, the Mexican culture from which these children will be removed. He shows us its goods and its bads: the adoption nursery, the adoption lawyers, the young birthmothers, the street kids, the unemployed adults, the class system.

Casa de los Babys -- great title -- is more subtle than a Hollywood film and it is not clear where Sayles' sympathies lie. There's not much plot or much characterization. It feels like a short story hastily turned into screen fare.

Worth watching, though, and I don't think it is a film a Bastard would hate on principle. Far from it.


Finding Me In a Paper Bag: Searching for Both Sides Now

Reviewed by Anita Walker Field

Opposite the title page of this intriguing new book, there is a photo of a stern looking nurse holding a two-week-old infant. The caption reads: "Who are the Parents of this Abandoned Baby?" The photo is from a York, Pennsylvania newspaper dated February 6, 1939. This is Sally Howard's birth announcement.

Nineteen years later, Sally Howard is raped, becomes pregnant, and must give up her daughter for adoption.

Abandonment, adoption, and relinquishment are all part of Sally Howard's life. Ms. Howard takes the emotional journey back into her past to find out her own birth story. At the same time, she wants to find the daughter she relinquished for adoption thirty-five years ago. Sally Howard is not looking for reunions; she is looking for the truth.

Take a look at adoption laws through the eyes and heart of a foundling who became an adoptee who became a birth mother. The book may be purchased directly from Sally Howard or from Amazon or Borders.


Want to help make a difference in how adopted people are treated and viewed in society? Want to support the efforts of the only adoptee-led national organization dedicated to promoting the equal treatment and dignity of adopted citizens? Want to enjoy all the benefits of membership? Join Bastard Nation!

Fill Out an Application now at

Learn: http://



Talk Back: e-mail us at



Editors: Anita Walker Field and David C. Ansardi
c. 2003 Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

Please share Byline: Bastard Nation with your friends and colleagues and with your other e-mail lists. Crossposting is encouraged. You also have our enthusiastic permission to print out Byline: Bastard Nation and share it with those not on the internet.

Back to byline index page main page