Welcome to the June issue of The Beacon.
As I'm sure you've noticed, our newsletter has a new look. We're now using the newsletter function from our website. It's still easy to join, and contains all the standard links, including those to articles in the news.
We hope you enjoy The Beacon and the new format!
As always, we'd love to hear from you. Send your comments or questions to: AACBeacon@gmail.com
With warm regards,
Susan Bennett & The Beacon Team
Declare July 28 National Adoptee Equal Rights Day
July 28, 1868 the 14th Amendment was ratified giving the Federal Government the right to intervene when states and local governments deprive citizens of their rights. This crucial amendment has become the basis for all the Civil Rights legislation in the last 125 years.
This petition may persuade the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, and the President of the United States of America to declare July 28 National Adoptee Equal Rights Day to heighten awareness of this little known civil rights issue facing adopted citizens and the need to restore their rights by repealing laws that unjustly discriminate against adopted persons.
Please consider signing.
AAC supports this petition created by Mirah Riben,
Author of, The Stork Market.
Looking for Support?
Join other members at our first online email forum.
Are you looking for support between conferences? Do you want to stay in touch with AAC friends? Do you live in an area where there is no local support group but want to chat with other adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents?
If so, we hope you will join the AAC email forum.
Open only to AAC members, the email forum will provide a safe, caring atmosphere in which AAC members may share their thoughts and feelings about adoption and its impact on their lives. Just as members do in an in-person peer support group, members of the email forum may comment, support, and cheer on other members as they explore their feelings about adoption.
If you choose to join the email forum, messages from forum members will appear in your email inbox. When you reply, every member of the forum will read your response and have the opportunity to reply.
It's easy to join:
1. Go to Members Only area on website.
2. Read the rules for the AAC Email Forum and make sure you agree with them.
3. Key in your email address in the box marked “Google Groups. Subscribe to “AAC Search Reunion”. Click on “Subscribe.”
4. This will take you to a page telling you to check your email mailbox for a confirmation message.
5. Go to your email mailbox where you will find an email from noreply@googlegroup. If the confirmation does not appear right away, check your spam folder. Open the message and confirm your subscription by clicking on the link.
6. This will take you to another page asking for your state and position in the adoption triad. You can choose whether to answer these questions. They are optional. Click on “Apply to this group.”
7. This will take you to another page telling you that your application has been submitted. As soon as the Email Forum moderators approve your application, you will receive a message telling you to expect messages from AAC email forum members. Applications from all AAC members will be approved.
If you're not a member, join today.
I WANT TO JOIN!
You can also search for local support groups by
STATE and INTERNATIONALLY.
Where Things Stand in NJ
CALL TO ACTION!
Governor Christie has 45 days in which to act on S799…until June 24th. We understand he will be meeting with counsel during the coming week.
Please write Governor Christie and ask him to sign the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill, S799.
Send the text of your letter in an email via the Governor’s website:
Children and Families,
Adoption and Foster Care
ALSO send a snail mail version of your letter to:
Governor Chris Christie
P.O. Box 001
The State House
Trenton, NJ 08625-0001
Your continued support is greatly appreciated!
When things are heating up this summer, stay inside and join us on our new internet radio program.
Pam Kroskie will be introducing AAC's first live internet talk-radio show.
AAC Adoption News and Views
Have an idea for a show topic?
We love feedback, email Pam at pkroskieAAC@gmail.com
Even if you've never listened or called into a radio show before, you won't want to miss this! Pam is lining up some great guests.
More information is coming soon!
If you are an AAC Member, watch your mail boxes for the summer issue of The Decree. It is packed full of great articles, and the wrap up from the exciting, "Many Faces of Adoption" conference in Orlando, FL. If you are not a member, join us today!
Reform Legislation Heats Up!
Paul Schibbelhute, Legislative Chair
This has been a busy legislative season with so many people working hard for the best possible bills. These four states have had the most activity:
Louisiana SB 155 passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3-2 on May 17, 2011. It will now go to the Louisiana Senate for debate. SB 155 would allow adult adoptees access to their OBC at 24 years of age. The bill’s sponsor is Senator Danny Martiny, R-Kenner. We look forward to hearing from Elise Lewis on how things play out in the coming week; her story will be in the next Beacon. For details on how you can support SB 155, click HERE.
Connecticut SB 890 was voted out of the Children and Family Law Committee by a vote of 11-1 on March 3, 2011. SB 890 was then assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where they voted 27-16 against the bill. SB 890 a clean bill would allow all adult adoptees access to their OBC at 21 years of age. The bill was submitted by the Children’s Committee without having a key sponsor.
Rhode Island H5453 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which held a public hearing on the bill April 12, 2011. The committee has not taken a vote on this bill as of May 26. S 0361, Senate mirror bill to H 5453 was assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which held a public hearing on the bill May 4, 2011. Both H 5453 and S 0361 are clean bills that would allow all adult adoptees access to their OBC at 18 years of age. H 5453 sponsor is Representative John Carnevale and S 0361 sponsor is Senator Donna Nesselbush.
New Jersey The New Jersey General Assembly, by a vote of 45-26-2, passed Adoptees' Birthright Bill, S799 (A1406) on May 9, 2011. The bill is now in the hands of the governor, Chris Christie who has 45 days to pass, veto, send back to legislature with recommended changes, or simply let the bill become law without his signature. The bill’s sponsor is Assemblyman Vincent Prieto. Please see Judy Foster's article, "Where Things Stand in NJ" for what you can do to help.
NJ.com News Story by Susan K. Livio, Statehouse Bureau.
The Day of the Vote
May 9, 2011 was a beautiful morning. Lois DeStefano, Pam Hasegawa, Jean Strauss and I were heading to Trenton for the historic vote on the NJ Adoptees’ Birthright Bill. We were totally psyched. Jean had huge suitcases of filming equipment that we stuffed into the back of my SUV and off we went. We arrived early to catch any Assembly folks walking into the building so we could give them one last push to vote for our bill.
There are 80 Assembly members, 47 Democrats (Ds) and 33 Republicans (Rs). We needed 41 votes for the bill to pass. Going in, we knew we had 38 Ds and seven Rs who confirmed support for our bill, and we hoped for half of the 22 on the fence. Our hearts dropped when our Assembly Democratic Prime Sponsor, Vinnie Prieto, told us that three of our Yes voters were absent that day. He asked me to see if I could get a count from the Republican Prime Sponsor, Assemblyman Bramnick, as both parties were in their respective caucuses.
We knew that this would not be a “party-line” vote, that is, the party does not take a position or try to sway the vote. The Minority Leader had told me ages ago that this would be a “conscience vote,” meaning each member votes from their heart/head. I waited outside the R caucus for about a half hour. When they broke, our R sponsor said they had about five and a half votes! 35 Ds and 5-½ Rs…my blood pressure went thru the roof!
To complicate matters, a respected R member told several NJCARE members that he and several others were not convinced this bill was right for NJ and that we didn’t have the votes for it to pass. He was one of the supporters of the Confidential Intermediary bill that was introduced in January as a “compromise”. That bill had been discussed in the D caucus and was not supported by them.
We had a quick lunch and went to the Assembly chambers to await our fate. About 30 of us were there talking in hushed tones when the Assembly finally came to order. Now remember, this bill passed in the Senate four times in eight years, and each time Senators alternately spoke for or against the bill from the floor before the vote, so we anticipated a lively discussion in the Assembly.
We waited an hour and a half for the bill to come up. Assemblyman Prieto spoke for two minutes about the reasons why its time had come. In a blink of an eye, the Speaker called for the vote…there was no discussion… the board started to light up and we could hear the pings each time someone weighed in. We held our breath while the vote hung at 38, then 40, and then it was over. 44 Yes, 26 No, 2 Abstentions.
Someone let out a huge sigh…a moan almost, and a few of us started to clap and then the Speaker cut us off.
We left the chamber and were met in the hall by Assemblyman Prieto and Assemblyman Bramnick. There were hugs and tears, and a reporter asking for comments. We hung out in the hall for quite a while talking and tallying the vote. Pam had taken a picture of the board, so we could see how they voted. There were a few surprises, as I suspect there always are, but we did prevail.
I was disappointed that most of the Republicans took the easy way out by voting NO, including my own two Assemblymen. They really don't know the Governor’s position, and I think they can say to the Catholic Conference and Right to Life...well, I didn't vote for it. I recalled what our Senate Prime Sponsor told us…we only need 41 votes, and no one will remember how many voted for it anyway. Speaker Oliver added her vote after the meeting making it 45 Yes, or 62% of those voting.
About 22 of us went to a cute Spanish restaurant in Trenton and had a nice dinner. We had two people from NY, two from MD, two fm PA, one from WA and the rest hail from NJ. Jean Strauss passed the mike at the end of dinner and asked what today meant for us. Thank you, Jean, for capturing not only those poignant comments, but for filming the day’s events with your son, Jonathan.
Interestingly, of the 30 or so at the State House, only three adoptees will benefit from New Jersey’s changing the law. The rest of us are either in reunion, or were born out of state. It amazes me the number of folks involved who have nothing to gain...except the satisfaction that a civil right will be restored to a group of people who have been denied their truth, in some cases, for 71 years!
To see the proceedings and the vote, go to
Click on View for Monday, May 9th and scroll to 1:24:40 for the vote.
Watch reactions to the vote;
Thank you all, for caring about New Jersey!
Book Club Corner
Patrick McMahon,a long time member of AAC, has written a memoir, Becoming Patrick.
We are proud to highlight his book in our very first Book Club Corner.
Becoming Patrick is the story of one adopted man’s quest for himself by uncovering the truth of his past. After an anguished search, the call to his original mother changes his life. He absorbs her shocking revelations, comes out as gay once again, and during a sometimes turbulent unfolding, forges a profound bond which shapes a new future.
You can also order at www.patrickmc.com/
If you are interested in having your book highlighted in the AAC Book Club Corner, or on our website, write to us at AACBeacon@gmail.com.
View AAC's entire Recommended Reading book list.