What is Bastard Nation? A Short History by Damsel Plum

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What is Bastard Nation?
A Short History
by Damsel Plum
(updated 6/28/99)

Bastard Nation was born in early 1996 on the Internet Usenet newsgroup, alt.adoption (a.a.). Our founder Marley Greiner coined the term "Bastard Nation" and started signing her posts with it. Several of us followed suit, playfully assigning ourselves titles as the topic required (see the Founding Foundlings list on the website for examples). In June came up with the idea to create a Bastard Nation website. I collected material from people on a.a and on June 19, 1996 we announced the Bastard Nation website to the Internet community. We created a variety of alternative story pages: "True Tales of Revolting Reunions", "Adoptive Parents Speak out in Favor of Open Records", "True Tales of Atrocious Adoptions", "Bastard Moments", as well as links to the standard search and reconnection resources available on the Internet. As we grew we included accounts of our adoptee rights activism, coverage of negative portrayal of adoptees in the media and popular culture, information on adoption law and position papers on a variety of adoptee-related issues. In recent weeks we have clocked over 50,000 hits a day to our website attesting to the popularity of a resource which caters to an invisible and underrepresented minority - adult adoptees.

What is Bastard Nation's message exactly? We have been greatly misunderstood by those who would like to pigeonhole us into whatever role suits their personal interests. We've been labeled anti-adoption, anti-birthmother, anti-reunion, stalkers, whiners, professional victims - you name it. Not one of these portrayals is accurate. The only unifying concepts of BN are those of being for equal access to our own original birth certificates, adoptee dignity, combatting negative stereotypes of adoptees, and providing a forum for the wide spectrum of adult adoptee experience. Otherwise, the opinions on adoption issues of our individual members vary greatly. In this way we are unlike any other adoption organization- we are truly a "big tent" without a whole truckload of associated "positions" on adoption and adoption reform.

Adoptee birth records are sealed because of an attitude of shame towards adoption. The language in the original laws which sealed adoptee birth records specifically stated that it was to protect adoptees from the shame and embarrassment of their *illegitimate* (i.e. Bastard) status. The later justifications we hear for adult adoptees' birth records being sealed are: 1) They are sealed to protect the birthparent (unspoken assumption - from the shame of the unwanted birth coming back to haunt her) 2) They are sealed to protect the adoptee (unspoken assumption - from the shame of being reminded that one was born of an unwanted pregnancy), and 3) to protect the adoptive parents (from the shame of their infertility). In reality there shouldn't be anything shameful about adoption. Sealed records preclude that possibility.

The media like to play up sensational and rare instances of lunatics trying to track down their birthchildren or birthparents, wreaking havoc on their lives. Recently certain adoption industry lobbyists have been parading "shadow birthmothers" in the media, all of whom use the same offensive hunting metaphors to try and justify permanent government-sanctioned secrecy in adoption - secrecy, not from the general public, but from the very adopted adults who are party to the adoption. For some reason the media thinks it is compelling to represent adult adoptees who search as people who want to "declare open season" on "hunting" birthmothers. These soundbytes slur the entire population of adult adoptees and validate dangerous, erroneous notions which endanger the important institution of adoption. There are many more groups of birthparents and adoptive parents who support open records for adult adoptees than those who do not.

Bastard Nation explodes the myth of shame by reclaiming the word "bastard" and all of society's myths and fears regarding adoption. We make fun of the unspoken shame, joke about illegitimacy, tell the untold tales of our sisters and brothers which the media have not been willing to tackle. We give adult adoptees a place to come and express themselves, share their experiences, read about others like (and unlike) themselves, find search and reconnection support and learn how to fight for their rights as adult adoptees.

Bastard Nation will be holding its third annual conference October 8 - 10, 1999 at the Holiday Inn Boardwalk Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ.
Click here for details


Bastard Nation Mission Statement


Bastard Nation's primary goal is the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee's historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. We respect the diversity of opinion present in the adoption community among adoptees, which is why we advocate that each adoptee have the ability to choose whether he/she wishes to search or access his/her birth records. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth record unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit them from exercising such a right. To that end, we have reclaimed the badge of bastardy as placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us for our parents' marital status at the time of our births. We see nothing shameful in being adopted, nor in being born out of wedlock, and thus we see no reason for adoption to continue to be veiled in secrecy through use of the sealed record system and the pejorative use of the term 'bastard'. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of fully open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without compromise, and without qualification.

(Bastard Nation incorporated as a 501(c)4 non-profit organization in October, 1996)


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