Sunday, October 4, 2015

Senator King Honors Rep. Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™

Rep. Hickman with his parents and sister on the church steps of Siloah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2001.


Contact: Allison Coble, Senior Director of Programs
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
(p) 202-544-8500

Senator Angus King Honors Maine State Representative Craig Hickman as an Angel in Adoption™ To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, D.C.

AUGUSTA, MAINE – October 2, 2015 – Senator Angus King has selected Representative Craig Hickman as a 2015 Angels in Adoptionawardee for his outstanding advocacy of adoption issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in AdoptionProgram, will honor Rep. Hickman at an awards ceremony on October 6 and gala on October 7 in Washington, D.C.

 “I never would have imagined that twenty years of working on adoption issues would culminate with this great honor,” said Hickman. “I cannot thank Senator King enough. I will continue to fight for the rights of adopted children in Maine and across this great nation.”

Earlier this year, Hickman, an adoptee with a long-standing commitment to improving the lives of both adult and minor adoptees, introduced legislation in Maine that would prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children. Inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, and his wise mother, both deceased, Hickman has spent most of his life serving his community and feeding people. His award-winning 2005 memoir, Fumbling Toward Divinity, chronicles his search and reunion with his biological family.  When presenting his bill, Hickman asked his colleagues to “imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you… and within days you are dropped off to another stranger.” Hickman’s bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously, will go into effect this fall, making rehoming a crime in Maine subject to the current penalties for abandonment. Maine will be the sixth state, and the first in New England, to criminalize this damaging practice.
Rehoming is not the first adoption issue that Hickman has brought to the attention of the Maine Legislature. He first testified, as a member of the public, before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in 2005, speaking in favor of a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original sealed birth certificates. He was successful in this effort as well, and adult adoptees born in Maine were granted access to their original birth certificates in 2009.
Both in his work as a two-term legislator and as a private citizen prior to his election, Hickman has drawn on his personal experience as an adopted person to advocate for important changes to state law. His success in these efforts is a testament to his dedication to these issues and for these reasons, King recommended Hickman as an Angel in Adoption for 2015.
Hickman is also an organic farmer, chef, actor and poet. As House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, he has championed food sovereignty, food security, self-sufficiency and other efforts to protect Maine’s small family farms and promote rural economic development.

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hickman moved to New England to attend Harvard University, where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in government. He and his spouse, Jop Blom, who lived in the Boston area for 16 years, have owned and operated Annabessacook Farm in Winthrop since 2002, raising organic produce, dairy, and livestock, and hosting overnight guests and a fresh food bank for anyone in need. For more information, visit

The Angels in AdoptionProgram is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 150 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoptionprogram.

“The Angels in Adoption™ Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,200 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”  

In addition to the more than 150 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption  honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoptionhonoree is singer Rachel Crow.  Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.

CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption. 

CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption. 

The Angels in AdoptionProgram was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C. 

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit or


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Maine’s Universities Should Walk the Talk on Local Foods, Farms

Posted Aug. 06, 2015, at 12:33 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 06, 2015, at 5:04 p.m.

As a farmer, an advocate for food self-sufficiency and a resident of the great state of Maine, I am pleased — and entirely unsurprised — to see such excitement around the University of Maine System’s upcoming food contract. Its current, 10-year, $12.5 million annual contract with the national food service behemoth Aramark is coming to a close at the end of the 2015-2016 calendar year.

I am pleased because this opportunity for UMS to make a significant commitment to Maine food in the contract renewal is ripe with enormous potential for our great state.

It will be good for our farmers, who need more markets and reliable partnerships to make investments in their businesses and hire more workers. It will be good for our economy because we know dollars spent in Maine stay in Maine. It will be good for our students who will have access to fresher, healthier food. And it will be good for UMS, which will attract more students and positive public relations.

Read the rest...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Readfield Heritage Days Schedule of Events

August 7 - 8, 2015

Readfield Historical Society Art: Beverley Norton Newton

Friday Events

• Barbecue — 4:30 to 8 PM - Readfield Town Beach

• Readfield Historical Society Wine & Cheese Social — 5 to 7 PM - Readfield Historical Society & Museum.

• Rich Charette Concert — 6 PM - Readfield Town Beach

• Fireworks — 9:15 PM - Readfield Town Beach

Saturday Events

• Readfield History Walk — 10 AM to Noon. Walk will include the new trail that leads from the Community Library to Union Meeting House, and parts of the old Fairgrounds Trail, Church Road and Main Street. Brief stops will be made along the way to share information about some of the oldest and/or intriguing homes, and at Readfield Corner where a major fire occurred in 1921 and many businesses have come and gone since the late 1700s. Walk leaders will be Dale Potter-Clark, Readfield History Walks coordinator; Milt Wright, Readfield Trails Committee chairperson; and William Adams, Readfield Corner historian. Adams and Potter-Clark are researching for a book about old houses in Readfield and thus far have researched nearly 200 houses — including those at Readfield Corner. Readfield. Meet at Gile Hall on Old Kents Hill Road by 10 a.m.

For more information, call 441-9184 or email

• Sixth annual Ricky Gibson Memorial Car Show — 8 AM to 2 PM - Maranacook Community School. Entry fee is $10 for a car or bike; spectators free. Registration is set for 8-10 a.m. Awards given for 20-plus classes. There will be a disc jockey, barbecue, 50/50 raffle, prizes and more. The event is hosted by Strictly Street Car Club. Proceeds will benefit the Ricky Gibson Football Scholarship Fund.

• Readfield Community Library’s annual Library Book Sale — 9 AM to 1 PM - Readfield Fire Station. Proceeds will benefit Readfield Community Library.

• Union Meeting House Lawn Sale — 8 AM to 2 PM - 22 Church Road. Proceeds will be used to restore the Old Union Meeting House.

• Fun Fair — 10 AM to 2 PM - Readfield Town Beach. Event will include bounce houses, face painting, “tote”-ally fun tote design, grab bags, glow-in-the-dark novelties and refreshments. Admission is free; in case of rain, the event will move to Maranacook Community School.

• Party Palooga — Noon to 2 PM - Readfield Town Beach. There will be balloon fun and temporary glitter tattoos. In case of rain, the party will move to the Maranacook Community School.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hickman's Bill To Promote Food Self-Sufficiency Becomes Law in Maine

AUGUSTA – A bill to encourage food self-sufficiency in the state has become law in Maine.

“As a fellow farmer asserts, growing your own food is like printing your own money. It is the policy of the state to be food self-sufficient. This bill strengthens that policy by encouraging people to grow, process and preserve their own food to feed themselves, their families and their communities,” said Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop, the bill’s sponsor. “It also addresses the current shortage of available farm workers for the many new and expanding family farms that are taking advantage of the growing local foods movement.”

“When a state with a farming and fishing legacy as strong as Maine's imports ninety percent of the food its people consume, there is cleary something wrong with the picture. Thanks to the reputation and availability of our signature commodity foods ― lobster, wild blueberries, and potatoes ― Maine will always be a net exporter of food. But it makes no sense for us to import so much of the food we eat. Mainers produce only fifteen percent of the poultry that we consume. The rest comes from elsewhere. We can do better than this. We must do better. Our economy requires it. The public health, common good, and welfare of our people require it.”

LD 1291, its chaptered law embedded below, would direct the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop and administer an agricultural jobs network. It would link farms and facilities that process agricultural products grown in Maine with available workers who are involved in farming or a local food industry, or who are required to perform community service.

It directs the department to develop an educational marketing campaign, similar to the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food Adiministration World War II poster campaign, to promote food self-sufficiency by encouraging the public to grow gardens, raise farm animals and preserve garden-grown food.

Hickman’s bill also requires the Department of Agriculture to purchase food that is grown, harvested, prepared, processed and produced in Maine when purchasing food for an emergency or supplemental food program for elderly or low-income people whenever possible.

LD 1291 passed the Legislature by unanimous consent in both the House and the Senate after it was funded by the Appropriations Committee and sent to the Governor's desk. The law will take effect ninety days after the Legislature adjoured on July 16, 2015.

Hickman is an organic farmer and House chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Readfield, Winthrop and part of Monmouth.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hickman's Bill To Prohibit Rehoming Becomes Law in Maine

For Immediate Release
July 2, 2015
Contact: Ann Kim [Hickman], cell: 233-1838

Hickman’s bill to prohibit “rehoming” of adopted children becomes law

AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature on Tuesday unanimously overrode the governor’ veto of a bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Hickman to prohibit the unauthorized “rehoming” of adopted children.

Hickman’s bill, LD 1342, addresses this practice. It prohibits the transfer of the long-term care and custody of a child without a court order. Hickman, adopted when he was a baby, has been involved in adoptee rights issues for the past 20 years.

“Imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you. And since it is not against the law, that family advertises you on Facebook or Craigslist or some other social media platform and within days you are dropped off to another stranger in a parking lot behind some Walmart somewhere,” said Hickman, D-Winthrop. “Yes, this actually happens.”

The Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously with an amendment to make rehoming a crime subject to the current penalties for abandonment. It includes an affirmative defense clause to ensure people acting in good faith are not penalized.

The first time Hickman ever testified before a legislative body was before the same committee. In 2005, he spoke in favor of a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates, which had been sealed when their adoptions were finalized. That bill became law in 2007 and took effect in 2009.

“This legislation will protect children and families from the outrageous indignity called re-homing and send a clear message to adoptees here and all over the nation that Maine people care about the safety and welfare of all our children,” Hickman said.

According to the Washington Times, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin also have adopted laws against rehoming.

“When I saw the votes in favor of this bill light up the board all green, I was moved to tears,” said Hickman. “This is the most important piece of legislation I’ve introduced thus far. As an adopted person, it goes to the core of who I am. It feels like the culmination of two decades of work. I am forever grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support.”

Hickman is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Readfield, Winthrop and part of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Testimony: An Act To Prohibit Unauthorized Custody Transfers of Children

Testimony of Representative Craig V. Hickman on LD 1342, An Act To Prohibit Unauthorized Custody Transfers of Children Before the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, May 21, 2015

Senator Burns, Representative Hobbins, and other distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, I am Representative Craig Hickman of Winthrop and I represent District 81, Winthrop, Readfield, and a part of North Monmouth at the foot of Mt. Pisgah. Today, I come before you to present LD 1342, An Act To Prohibit Unauthorized Custody Transfers of Children.

As some of you may know, I am an adopted person. My parents, Hazelle and Minnie Hickman, may they rest in peace, chose me to be a part of their family when I was a sixteen-month-old baby named Joseph Bernard White. The story behind my adoption reads almost like a soap opera and yet it was typical of a time when young girls went away to have babies in secret, when young girls were coerced to surrender their children for adoption, when young girls, broken-hearted and catatonic, returned to their communities wounded for life.

My birth mother got pregnant on February 14, 1967, while at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. Her mother didn’t want her unwed daughter’s pregnancy to stain the family name, so she sent her away to live alone in a room on the second floor of a home in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was born on December 8. As my birth mother recalled, thirty-three years later, when I showed up on her doorstep unannounced, after a 6-year search to find her, she told me her story: 

“It was like being on death row, son, and I had one last request before they took you away. They weren’t supposed to let me, but I demanded that I have a moment with you in the room with no doctors, no nurses, no brothers, no parents, no technicians, no one. But the laws in the state of Wisconsin forbade such a request. Birth mothers couldn’t see, much less hold, their children after delivery if they had already consented to give them up. But I told them that rules were meant to be broken, and who would find out about it anyway? So, I held you in my arms and looked you in your eyes and said, ‘You look just like your father. Someday you will grow up to be a handsome and smart man, son. But I may not get to see any of it because Mommy has to go away now. I have no choice. 

But I remember the story of Joseph from the Bible. How his brothers sold him into slavery and how he was lost from his brothers and his father for all those years. And then he became ruler of Egypt. And during the great famine when his brothers came to him to get food, he recognized them, but he didn’t let them know who he was. When he finally let them know, he told them to go and get Jacob because he wanted to be reunited with his father before his father died. And they were. And so I name you Joseph, because I know that someday, you’ll come back to me. Someday, you will find me. I don’t know if I’ll be living or dead, but I know you will find me. Just as Joseph in the Bible was reunited with his family, so shall you also be reunited with me. I just know it. Someday.”

Three days later, I was in foster care. Just over a year after that, my parents came to Madison on a camping trip, picked me up from the foster home, took me back to Milwaukee to join their adopted daughter, my sister, Gina, changed my name to Craig Von Hickman, and the rest is history. 

As much as I love my parents and my sister, as good as my parents were to both of us, I always wanted to know where I came from. And so when I was old enough to search for my biological parents, I did. I had to. I couldn’t reach my full potential in life without the knowledge of my genesis.

For the past 20 years, I have been involved in adoptee rights issues. In fact, it was this committee, back in 2005, where I first testified before any legislative body on a bill that would allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates, which had been sealed when their adoptions were finalized, just like mine had been. Then, as now, Representative Hobbins was a chair of this committee. Throughout my search for my birth parents and my involvement in adoptee rights issues, a disenchanting reality revealed itself to me. For all the talk of doing what is in the best interest of the child, children are not always well served by the institutions that are supposed to protect them, and adult adoptees are treated like second-class citizens by law and by adoption agency policies in far too many situations. Fortunately, some of these injustices have been corrected but too many of them remain.

Today, I stand before you and ask that you correct another. When my childhood friend, Governor Scott Walker, signed into law last year a bill that would prohibit the unauthorized custody transfer of adopted children to nonrelatives, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to outlaw what has come to be called rehoming. Now, other states are following suit. It’s time for Maine to join them.

Later, you will hear the harrowing experience of a young woman who was rehomed. As with all adoptees, so much of her story unfolded against her will. Imagine being shipped across oceans to a new culture with a new language to become part of a new family, only to have that family decide that they don’t want you, and since it is not against the law, that family advertises you on Facebook or Craigslist or some other social media platform and within days you are dropped off to another stranger in a parking lot behind some Walmart somewhere. Yes, this actually happens.

Right now, this scenario would be perfectly legal in the great state of Maine. Unless we pass LD 1342, which would prohibit such an unconscionable act and make it a Class C crime. To borrow and modify a quote from another legislator on this very matter, children are not furniture to be replaced on a whim. Children deserve stability. Adopted children, especially, deserve the chance to heal the so-called primal wound of separation from the mothers who pushed them into the world, and to have the opportunity, if they so choose, to discover their origins.

We must protect our children.

As with all bills, the devil is in the details, and so there may be some kinks that will have to be combed out. But I have faith that under the wisdom of your deliberations, you will craft a piece of legislation that will protect children and families from the outrageous indignity called re-homing and send a clear message to adoptees here and all over the nation that Maine people care about the safety and welfare of all our children. I urge you to pass LD 1342 with a unanimous vote. 

Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions.



The committee passed the bill unanimously with an amendment to make the crime of re-homing subject to the current penalties for abandonment and with an affirmative defense clause to ensure people acting in good faith are not penalized. For more details of the amendment, please click here. The committee worked hard to find the right balance between intent and circumstance and I appreciate all of it. The bill passed the Legislature with the unanimous consent of both Chambers under the gavel, but was vetoed by the Governor without objection to the content of the legislation on its face. Instead, this is one of those bills that the Governor believes ought to receive a 2/3 vote of the Legislature before being enacted into law. We will take up the reconsideration vote of the veto on Tuesday, June 30, at ten o'clock in the morning. I urge people to contact legislators in both chambers to urge them to override this veto. The safety of our children requires it. Thank you in advance.


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Friday, June 19, 2015

We Are A Nation Of Immigrants

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, I rise in support of the pending motion.

Every person in this Chamber is a proud American. Our ancestors come from different places; practice different faiths; eat different meals. But we share one nation and one set of ideals. We share a belief in the greatness of our country. A belief that what makes us a great nation isn’t our sameness, but our diversity. Today in the hallways of this magnificent building we saw some of Maine’s diversity. There were people here who came from Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Mauritania, Rwanda, Somalia.

They hail from the continent of my ancestors, who did not come to these shores by choice. Ancestors who did not come to these shores fleeing anything. Still, I love America more than any other country on earth, and I wish to be nowhere else.

It has already been quoted, but I am going to quote it again:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

I am certain, Mr. Speaker, that every person here, every person listening or watching online, knows that those closing lines from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 sonnet entitled “The New Colossus” are emblazoned on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, placed there in 1903.

We are a nation of immigrants.

Let us never forget.

As Thomas Jefferson challenges us, "[s]hall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?”
We are a nation of immigrants.

Let us be reminded by the international community through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for which the United States voted, that “[e]veryone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

We are a nation of immigrants.

Let us never forget.

Throughout this conversation, we have heard arguments such as: “We can’t even afford to take care of our own; we can’t help our disadvantaged, our elderly, and our infirm, so we can’t help them.” I say, Why not? Why can’t we? From the long perspective of human history, from before the times of the Pharaohs to now, in the wealthiest nation ever to exist on the earth, can we really cry poverty in good faith?

Throughout this conversation, we have heard fears like this: “They don’t look like us. They don’t speak our language. They worship differently than we do. They have strange ways. They can’t be trusted. They just come here to take from us, to pick our pockets, and live off the dole.”

If we haven’t walked in their shoes, then who are we to judge them?

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the house, have we forgotten what makes us human? How have we forgotten what makes us humane? Have we forgotten the purpose of our government?

Our purpose for existing, the principles that guide our work in this Chamber, are laid out in our State Constitution. We have formed the government of the State of Maine [quote] “to establish justice, insure tranquility…promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty.” Is not the welfare of all God’s children our “common welfare?” Isn’t treating all of our residents with fairness and equality indeed “justice?” Isn’t our responsibility to truly secure the blessings of liberty for those who have sought refuge among us, fleeing tyranny and civil war?

It breaks my heart that we are even having this debate.

I will quote a passage from The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin.

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.”

And so in facing the conundrum of life in this debate, I am going to flip the script. I am not going to call them immigrants, or asylum seekers, or legal non-citizens. I am going to call them exactly what they are: human beings seeking a better life in the greatest country on earth.

How can we in good conscience vote to throw decent human beings out onto the streets because our sometimes cold and insensitive language around “welfare cheats and illegals” has been repeated so often we have lost our ability to see the human beings behind the labels?

As Martin Luther King said, “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

In order to live with my conscience, I cannot, ought not, will not vote against human beings who need our help. I cannot, ought not, will not pit them against other human beings who need our help. And I cannot, ought not, will not fear what happens at the ballot box in the next election.

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, no matter the outcome on this conundrum, this amendment, this vote that we are about to take here this afternoon, I pledge to work with anyone in this Chamber to make sure that our state is more welcoming to young families; more welcoming to people who don’t look like most of us; more welcoming to people from different lands and other countries. And, yes, more welcoming to human beings fleeing the terrible places where life can be found, human beings whose toughness and resilience and ambition will make us a better state now and in the future.

Brilliantly blessed are those who create Unity out of vast Diversity, for they will experience Heaven on Earth.

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House, let us remember who we are. Let us follow the light of the golden lamp of Lady Liberty and vote to pass this amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.