Ninth Annual March on Washington:
A Participant’s Report

by Ann Massmann

     The Ninth March on Washington for Family Preservation and Civil Rights in Adoption was held on Saturday, June 13, 1998, and included two representatives of Operation Identity: myself and Donna Johnston from Rio Rancho. This year’s rally and march was sponsored by the Council for Equal Rights in Adoption (CERA), the Sunflower Birthmother’s Group, and the American Adoption Congress. About 250 marchers attended. Many came from the Washington DC area, New York, and North Carolina, particularly a large number from the Sunflower Birthmother’s Group. There were also contingents from San Diego, CA; Michigan; and from up and down the eastern seaboard.

Ann (l) and Donna

     The three-mile march from the Capitol reflecting pool to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was an empowering experience with a long string of people with signs and banners of all kinds. On the march we sang and chanted. Many wore T-shirts from their organizations, so there was a sea of tan Sunflower Birthmother T-shirts and two turquoise Operation Identity shirts, among others.
     Once we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial steps, the quilts from CERA and Sunflower BMG were unfurled. It was amazing and moving to stand there and see all these people represented in the quilts. Also incredibly moving was the rally, which went on for the next two hours. Several newly reunited birth parents/adoptees were acknowledged, and we heard from Joe Soll of CERA; Alana Miller of Sunflower Birthmother’s Group; and Jane Nast and Abigail Lovett, the President and Vice Present, respectively, of the American Adoption Congress.
     Jane, an adoptive parent, spoke of the need to incorporate more adoptive parents into the movement for reform. Her words made me think of the importance of unity—“united we stand, divided we fall.” Over 20 birth mothers, adoptees (including myself!), and adoptive parents spoke out about their experiences and hopes for reform, to provide for more reunions of those separated by adoption in this country.
     The march was promoted as “a march to heal,” and it certainly felt that way to Donna and me, listening to all the talks, looking at the quilts, and meeting others who have also gone through reunions or are still hoping for one. At the same time the march reminds us of how much work still needs to be done, politically and personally, to assure us of our rights to know our full families in this country. Reformers in Delaware and New Jersey are currently working on legislation that will either reform or avoid setbacks in their state’s laws. Maryland just passed legislation that will allow an intermediary system—at last.
     There are still many out there who will work to keep records sealed and to eliminate even the intermediary systems, so keep in mind that there is much to be done if we want otherwise! O.I. will try to keep you informed of initiatives that need your help, here and around the country. And keep next year’s March on Washington in mind—organizers hope to have it in conjunction with the annual AAC conference in May, which will be in Arlington, VA! Stay tuned....

Excerpted from the July 1998 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 1998 Operation Identity