Oregon Adoptee Rights Initiative
Measure 58
Our Birth Certificate: Our Right

Letter to the Editor
The Oregonian

I have several comments concerning your editorial in opposition to Ballot Measure 58: "Oregon Must Keep its Word", September 23rd.

Your editorial states that Oregon is responsible to birth parents who were assured of certain ground rules when the adoption agreement was made.

For the record, over half of all adoptees living in Oregon today were relinquished during a time when Oregon law guaranteed that an adult adoptee HAD THE RIGHT to access their original birth certificate. These were the ground rules before 1957, and Measure 58 represents a return to the ground rules in place at the time of the birth of OVER HALF of all adult adoptees alive in this state today.

Also, you repeatedly state that Oregon made a promise they cannot reverse. There has never been any evidence of such a promise, no birth mother out of the thousands who have contacted this campaign in support of this measure can remember wanting, or being offered, any such promise.

In the event that Measure 58 passes, the right, decision, and power to choose or turn down contact would ultimately rest with the birth mother. She would, as in all adult dealings, have the right to state her choice should she be contacted. We make choices every day about who we want in our lives and who we do not, and we do not invite the State into these personal decisions. With the passage of Measure 58, the State would return to the policy of staying out of legal assumptions that control the question of who may contact whom.

I agree that adoption law should be changed. But how can we advocate a law that gives an adult adoptee the right to access their own birth certificate beginning January 1, 1999, a law that will go into effect 21 years from now? In so doing we would necessarily turn our backs on the rights of over 200,000 adopted Oregonians alive today. Oregon passed an unconstitutional law in 1957 which singled out adoptees as a special, semi-suspect class of citizens who were denied the same privileges others are guaranteed. This is Oregon's chance to right this wrong. A wrongful law is a wrongful law, no matter when it was passed.

Thank You,
Helen Hill
Chief Petitioner, Measure 58

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