Finding kindred spirits in the quest for equal rights

This past week, I made some good connections online. Both happened through my Twitter profile.

Unlike some adoptees, I refuse to identify myself on that platform through my status as being adopted. I do call myself a Detroit native and photographer. That said, I find Twitter to be a great tool to share news leads on progress promoting equality for adoptees who seek to change discriminatory laws that deny adoptees in the United States equal treatment under the U.S. Constitution (14th Amendment) and state laws.

The first connection came with a Minnesota-based attorney named Gregory Luce, who recently launched a website for his Adoptee Rights Law Center. In his own words, Luce writes, “Nationally, however, we will work with lawyers and activists to develop legal strategies to advance adoptee rights, whether through legal briefs and research, support to lawyers on the ground, pro bono representation for adoptees, or coordination of state-by-state legal efforts.”

Luce has published a detailed state-by-state analysis of the state-level and mostly restrictive adoption laws. Anyone who is interested in the larger policy framework that continues to deny civil rights to adoptees should bookmark this page.

It was fun to connect with Darryl McDaniels, fellow adoptee and internationally known rapper, over Twitter about something we both care about.

Luce is not in the business of framing adoption as a wonderful “gift” or trying to be part of the larger and international adoption industrial complex. (That is what I call it in my forthcoming book, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are.) We exchanged a couple of emails. I shared with him my research findings on practices in Michigan, which I have published on my website. I’m glad to know there is an advocate who is using his legal expertise in this overlooked area of discrimination.

My second Twitter connection occurred when I sent a thank-you Tweet to Darryl McDaniels, one of the founders of the path-breaking rap group Run DMC. He had Tweeted support for adoption-records reform legislation in his home state, New York.

McDaniels, like me, is an adoptee. Like me, he found his family. McDaniels also created one of the best portrayals of the American adoption experience in the cover he did with fellow adoptee and singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan of Just Like Me. The video shows McDaniels’ birth and relinquishment in 1964, and what that meant to him and his birth mother.

To my pleasant surprise, McDaniels wrote me back with a nice Tweet that made me smile. That Tweet received more than 1,000 views when I last checked. It is very nice to know that there are strangers out there who are working toward the same goal, but with different tools and with great energy and commitment for the same thing—the right to what is theirs as a birthright: their original birth records.

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