With the arrival of 2020, so comes the second year of the 133rd Ohio State General Assembly. As we do each year, Adoption Network Cleveland is scheduling a Lobby Day this Spring to visit representatives and senators, both freshmen and veterans alike. On this day, volunteers will be advocating for our public policy agenda, delivering materials, and giving gifts of candy to refill the candy jars given as part of last year’s Lobby Day to the lawmakers of Ohio. This outreach event requires a great deal of effort, and that’s why we need capable and willing volunteers like you!
Lobby Day is an incredibly important part of our advocacy mission as it provides a unique and effective way to discuss issues affecting the people we serve with the people who have the power to fix them. It’s not just important for us; it’s also needed by our representatives in government as well. Many Ohioans believe that lawmakers are unwilling or unable to change policies for political reasons, but that may not be true. Politicians on both sides of the aisle want to see better outcomes, but they rely on the communities’ voices for information, feedback, and support on what works and what does not. In fact, it was our 2012 Lobby Day meeting with State Senator Bill Beagle’s staff that got him interested in sponsoring Ohio Senate Bill 23, which passed in 2013 and created access to their birth records for 400,000 Ohio adoptees with previously closed records. We always have our ear to the ground to discover who in our state legislature has a personal connection with and/or passion for our cause. This year’s Lobby Day will be on Wednesday, May 13th, and we will be focusing on elements of our Public Policy Agenda during our visits. Two issues of importance include promoting sibling connections and addressing fertility fraud.
Sibling connections: Did you know Ohio law allows the relationship between a parent and a child to determine the relationship between siblings? Adopted children are legally severed from their biological siblings, and it is unclear whether permanent custody legally ends a sibling relationship. Although federal and state law requires children in foster care to be given the opportunity to visit with their siblings, this right does not extend into adoption and can be withheld by caseworkers without direct judicial consideration. We believe siblings should be a source of comfort and stability to children as their relationships with the adults in their lives change.
Fertility fraud: With the advent of DNA testing, some donor-conceived individuals are finding out that their parents’ fertility doctor is, in fact, their genetic parent rather than the sperm donor they had chosen, and that there is no legal recourse. States are just starting to catch up and address this issue of genetic identity in statute, and we would like Ohio to be next.
Last year our Lobby Day was extremely successful with our volunteer teams meeting in person with legislators and staff in almost 75% of the 132 House and Senate offices. This year we have a plan to be even closer to 100%. To do this, we need YOU!
Do you want your voice heard on these issues? Do you have an interest in learning how the government operates? How about putting political advocate on your resume? If you answered yes to any of these, then we want you to volunteer! Volunteers are needed in Columbus for a full day of advocacy and outreach. Worried about not knowing what to say? Never fear! Adoption Network Cleveland will provide training on talking points and volunteers will work in groups of two or three while meeting the legislators. Can’t make it to Columbus? We have a job for you too! There will be preparations needed leading up to May 13th as well. If you are interested in volunteering in either capacity, contact Betsie Norris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (216) 482.2314.