Friday Night, These Folks Wanted to Teach Sarah Palin a Thing Or Two About Adoption

If you happened to be driving past the Fairmont Hotel before the big Sarah Palin fundraiser Friday night, and wondered why six people were out with signs complaining about "genetic secrets," birth certificates and the Gladney Center for Adoption, well, that was the idea -- particularly if you happened to be Sarah Palin.

"We're very pro-Sarah Palin, but she doesn't know adoption," said Tommy Burns, who drove four hours with his wife Linda from their home in Red Rock to stand outside the hotel. Of course, the "Palin 4 Life" event was a fundraiser for the Uptown Women's Center, a new pregnancy counseling house in Dallas. But protesters said they were there because of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's mention of a Gladney office in the new house.

The fundraiser, which included a welcome from Mayor Tom Leppert along with Palin's pro-life talk, was closed to the press. We even got chased out of the lobby outside the ballroom -- so the protesters had our undivided attention.

Since the early 1970s, adopted children born in Texas have been given modified birth certificates that don't list their birth mother's name, or where they were born. Linda Burns said that for 15 years, Gladney, the oldest adoption and maternity counseling agency in the country, has been torpedoing efforts to amend the law to give adoptees greater access to information on their past.

In 2007, bills passed unanimously in the Texas House and Senate that would have let adoptees look up that information unless their birth mother asked to keep it confidential, but the Legislative session ended before either bill could be sent to the governor's desk.

The Texas Family Law Foundation's Heidi Cox, who is also the Gladney Center's general counsel, gave the only testimony against the bill in committee hearings.

Burns said she gave her daughter up for adoption 26 years ago, and has since been able to reconnect with her. Burns said the original law was passed to keep birth mothers' information away from the general public, but for most mothers that wouldn't extend to the children. Adopted children with the altered birth certificates, Burns said, also have trouble getting passports, or even security clearance for military work.

Burns said she's been an activist since 1995, and worked with celebrity counterparts to gt other states' laws changed as well -- including Daryl from Run D.M.C. in New Jersey, and Karen Vedder in California, who already had a son named Eddie when she put a daughter up for adoption. "I didn't know what Pearl Jam was. I thought it was some kind of jelly."

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