Why Adoptee Rights Depend On Stopping Illinois HB 5428

Illinois HB 5428, a bill that severely curtails adoptee rights, is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A meeting will be held Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 2:30pm at Capitol 400 in Springfield, Illinois to discuss the bill. From the Adoption Reform Illinois web site:

We welcome anyone who can attend (you do not have to speak). We also welcome written testimony, regardless of whether you are in Illinois. You can send it to Adoption Reform Illinois at info@campaign4openrecords.org. Please include your name, address, phone number and email address. We suggest you limit to one page and include any personal experiences you have either with Illinois in particular or sealed records in general. If we receive your testimony by Monday night we will submit it to the legislators on Tuesday.

Adoption Reform Illinois has some talking points on our web site, as well as our position paper (PDF) which explains why we oppose HB 5428. We also encourage you to call or fax the Senate sponsors and members of the Judiciary Committee to express your opposition to this bill.
Why is it important that we stop Illinois HB 5428?
If HB 5428 is enacted in Illinois, it will impact adoptee rights across the country. Do you really want to be considered a criminal for simply pursuing your own genealogy, even if you don’t contact anyone? Do you want to support a bureaucratic nightmare that exists only to make money at your expense?
What’s so bad about this bill?
First, there is the way IL HB 5428 is being slipped under the radar… It has already been fast-tracked through a House vote of approval, and is currently in the Senate’s Assignments committee.
Next, there is the unprecedented level of bureaucracy this bill creates — because the more bureaucracy, the more opportunities to charge you for your own information. HB 5428 introduces no less than five levels of disclosure veto (mislabeled “preferences”), ranging from “access if your Mommy approves” all the way down to “F*** you.” It goes so far as to mandate modification of vital records, permanently erasing adoptee identities. Adoptees who have already been shafted by disclosure veto remain screwed.
IL HB 5428 puts the very same people who run Illinois’ mismanaged registry and CI program on the council overseeing it.
HB 5428 calls for state money to advertise the program. It’s all about profit at a time when our state can’t even pay its own bills. And it’s all about obscurity at a time when the citizens of Illinois are trying to shine some light on the corrupt politics in this state.
And if that’s not bad enough… IL HB 5428 would make it a CRIME to pursue your own search via non-identifying information (damages plus $10,000 minimum punitive fine).
Isn’t it better that some adoptees have access than none?

If you are an adoptee who has original birth certificate access, find out what laws in your state allow you to do so. Do those laws deny the rights of your fellow adoptees? How does that make you feel? And if you support conditional legislation, either deliberately or because you haven’t really thought about it, ask yourself why. Why is it okay for some adoptees to have access and not others? What makes a person born on this date better than someone born on that one? Why are adoptees in one state more deserving than those in another?

Are you willing to leave people behind? What if you turn out to be one of them?

Can’t we just go back and make it better later?
Legislators don’t revisit legislation like this. If HB 5428 is passed, it will set adoptee rights back decades in Illinois and elsewhere. From my blog entry Think Before You Support Compromise Adoption Reform Bills:
  • Baby steps are not needed to achieve clean original birth certificate access. It’s been done in Maine. It’s been done in Oregon. IT CAN HAPPEN. But you have to work at it, and if your nice clean bill gets lobotomized, you have to take the higher ground, kill it and start again.
  • Look to your left. Look to your right. One of your brethren in adoption is going to be left behind if you compromise. Ask yourself if you actually want to support a bill that means getting your information at the expense of someone else. And remember, that someone else could easily be you.
  • NOT ONE STATE that has enacted compromise legislation has EVER changed it later to clean birth certificate access. Once you have the compromise you are stuck with it. The politicians consider it a done deal and won’t revisit it. You’ll have shot yourself in the foot for nothing.
  • Compromises in one state bleed over onto others. Legislators ask, if it works for this other state, why shouldn’t we do it that way? It makes it harder to enact clean legislation elsewhere.
  • There are politicians and lobbyists who want you to compromise because it’s a way for them to pay lip service to reform while not actually doing anything. In other words, it’s a ploy to get us to be good little bastards and birth mommies and go away. Post-adoption services exist to make money, period. They do not exist to help you. They do not exist to restore your civil rights. Don’t buy into the rhetoric. Demand clean legislation, each and every time.
  • Adoption records access is not about medical history, search and reunion or anything else. It is about identity. It is about the right to be treated equally. Don’t get caught up in the arguments. Take it back to basics and stay focused.
Illinois HB 5428 must be defeated for the good of ALL adoptees, not just those deemed worthy by arbitrary bureaucrats. I’ll be reporting on my trip to Springfield and my experience testifying against this atrocity of a bill.


  1. Thanks so much, Triona.

    I know I say this a lot, but it seems that each new “access” bill is worst than the last, and this is just about as bad as it gets. The current system is even better than this bill, and the current system is atrocious.

    The sneakiness surrounding this bill is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s one thing for bill sponsors to keep things under their hat, but in this case, the hat goes from head to toe.

    That not one single local or national adoptee rights organizaiton knew about this bill until it passed the IL House says it all. You can’t fight a bill if it’s not even on the leg page and no public hearings are announced. You’d think that somebody would wonder why a bill that has for 15 years been heavily opposed by our side as well as anti-adoptee bigots suddenly got a free ride. You’d think the cost of this travesty alone would bother pols.

    Whether this bill passes or not, it’s time to say bye-bye to Feigenholtz. I don’t know how she can be voted out since she’s got her built-in constituency at her feet, but she needs to be sent packing. She does not own adoption in Illinois.

    I got kicked way off track with my Ill blogging, but I’l be working on it all day today. Thanks for the plug.

  2. I’ve only been doing adoption reform for a few years but from what I understand this thing takes the cake in sneakiness as well as sheer lunacy. To make it a crime to pursue your genealogy regardless of whether you contact anyone is waaaaay out there in the realm of ridiculous.

    They have done all they can to make sure there could be no public commentary before it’s too late. For it to pass the House with no opportunity for voters to have a say is obscene. I, too, am sick of Feigenholtz’s stranglehold on adoption in Illinois. She does not speak for everyone.

    HB 5428 needs to die in committee. If it passes it will set back adoptee rights decades.