Let the State Bar of Wisconsin know that its opposition to an adoptee rights bill in Wisconsin is way off the mark. Sign on to a letter today asking the state bar to withdraw its opposition to AB13/SB15, pending Wisconsin legislation that, if enacted, would restore the right of all Wisconsin-born adopted people to possess their own original birth records.
Status: Currently Active
Pending legislation (AB13/SB15, details here) would restore a right all Wisconsin-born adopted people once had: the right to request and obtain a copy of your own birth record, without complex and discriminatory restrictions. The legislation has broad support, yet the State Bar of Wisconsin opposes it. The State Bar’s Children and the Law Section has testified against the bills in the past and has registered opposition to the bills again this session, assigning four lobbyists to defeat the bill. Testimony in the past has been extremely demeaning to adopted people and their families, using stereotypes of adoptees as perpetual children and stalkers of birthparents. We must let the State Bar of Wisconsin know it is way off the mark and that it is an outlier on the issue of equal rights for all adopted people. Sign on today to this letter, which will be delivered to the State Bar of Wisconsin after the action alert is complete.
Sign On to the Letter
Sign on as an individual or as an organization, or both. The text of the letter is below.
The following is the text of the letter to be sent to the leadership of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Sign on to the letter above.
We are Wisconsin-born adopted people, birthparents, adoptive parents, allies, supporters and experts on the issue of the right of adult adopted people to secure a copy of their own birth records. Many of us are engaged directly in supporting AB13/SB15, Wisconsin bills that would restore that right. Some of us testified last year in favor of bills identical to AB13/SB15. Many of us also heard or witnessed the opposition testimony of the Children and the Law Section’s representative. We were deeply troubled by that public testimony, particularly the narrow, discriminatory, and demeaning language used to disparage the right of adopted people to possess their own birth records.
We ask that the State Bar of Wisconsin withdraw its opposition to AB13/SB15. Your opposition is unfounded, treats adult adopted people as perpetual children, and reflects historic stigma and discrimination based on “illegitimate” births. Today, not only is that stigma irrelevant, but an attempt to perpetuate and enforce it through secrecy and control over a person’s own identity is impossible. With the ubiquity of DNA test registries and databases—as well as other practical tools that have existed for decades—continued enforcement of state-sanctioned secrecy results in information being broadcast far more publicly across entire families, whether involving a birthparent or an adopted person (see, e.g., “When Wisconsin Denies Adoptees Their Own Birth Records – and Compels DNA Testing Instead”).
The State Bar of Wisconsin is an outlier on this issue. Fifteen states have rejected outdated and discriminatory approaches and have changed their laws or never had secrecy provisions in place. Minnesota last month voted to restore a right Minnesota-born adopted people had lost in 1939. Remarkably, Wisconsin built its current 1982 law upon what Minnesota had implemented in 1977, the law that Minnesota legislators repealed and replaced a few weeks ago. The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys supported Minnesota’s new law and has supported similar legislation in other states (see attached letter of Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, dated February 22, 2023).
It is time for Wisconsin and its attorneys to understand the inherent right of all persons to fully possess and control their own identities. We ask that you withdraw your opposition to AB13/SB15. Please let us know your response to this request so that we can organize and advocate accordingly.