Our collective work to enact an unrestricted equal rights law in Maryland remains on track after senators this week heard testimony on SB0331. It went very well.
Testifying at the hearing this week in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee—which can be viewed here— were:
- Prof. Elizabeth Samuels, a law professor whose pioneering work to debunk the myth of birthparent anonymity in adoption has been instrumental in changing minds. She is also professor of law emerita at the the University of Baltimore School of Law, an alma mater for many Maryland legislators;
- Tom Diepenbrock, a Maryland adoptee, born in Cheverly, who told part of his own story, outlining the demeaning and humiliating process he and other adopted people face when they simply want to learn their own factual birth information;
- Gregory Luce of Adoptee Rights Law Center (a CCAR coalition member) and Adoptees United Inc., who testified on the practical reality of Maryland’s current law and how SB0331 will end the punishing and discriminatory framework perpetuated by that law;
- Barbara Smith-White, whose story as an adoptee in a step-parent adoption brought home the consequences of secrecy in adoption and how that secrecy affects every adopted person, whether adopted as an infant, a toddler, from foster care, or by a step-parent.
Susie Stricker and Peggy Klappenberger, the Maryland adoptees and advocates who remain the driving force behind the bill, worked with advocates and Senator Susan Lee’s staff to determine the lineup of witnesses. Numerous Maryland adoptees, birthparents, and allies also submitted written testimony prior to the hearing, including testimony collected through the coalition. In-person testimony via Zoom was limited to four speakers on account of COVID-19 restrictions, with three chosen by the sponsor and one picked randomly from those who signed up to testify.
We expect to see an announcement soon of the cross-filing of a bill in the House of Delegates, where an identical bill passed overwhelmingly last session.
How to Make a Difference
Make sure you are signed up for updates. We will continually inform people about developments moving forward and contact you to help. Even if you are not a Maryland-born adoptee, your voice matters, and we work to amplify that voice and to target legislators who may need to hear from people like you. Thank you!