March 15, 2011
Let the "Sunshine" In
© Photographer: Jiaodan | Agency: Dreamstime.com
Every year, on the third week of March, advocates of open government celebrate Sunshine Week around the March 16th birthday of President James Madison. One of Congress' top lawmakers in the realm of the Freedom of Information Act says there is a lot of work to do in beefing up the most important open government laws. In 2009, Senator Patrick Leahy was a guest on "Federal News Radio" and said this:
"The right to know is a cornerstone of democracy. No democracy exists unless the people know what the government is doing in their name. If you're kept in the dark about key decisions that affect your lives, then that democracy fails.
Without access to public documents, officials can make decisions in the shadows, and often in collusion with special interests, they can escape accountability for their actions. And once eroded, the right to know is very hard to win back." (Senator Patrick Leahy)
* Original birth certificates and adoption records were not "sealed" in the United States until the 1930's and 40's. In her book, "The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, The Baby-Seller Who Corrupted Adoption", Barbara Raymond wrote about the chilling effect Georgia Tann had on influencing "sealed records" laws in adoption.
"How much power can one person have to make social change? In this fascinating account, author (and adoptive mother) Barbara Bisantz Raymond presents a compelling look at the social phenomenon of adoption in the United States, shaped as it is by Tann's crimes. Before the 1920s, few adoptions occurred...but Tann realized there could be a market...especially if she falsified and fabricated birth records and used her influence to close adoption records. Raymond recounts this astonishing and horrifying true story with tremendous self-awareness and intrepid research into Tann's ongoing legacy." - Tampa Tribune
The Child Welfare League of America supports legislation restoring the right of every American adoptee to obtain their original birth certificate. It is simply the right thing to do, to protect the rights & integrity of all Americans.