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Driving for change


Newberg mom seeks, finds results getting changes in DMV form

When Beth Woolsey contacted the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles she never expected to get a response, much less see results.

“I was pretty ashamed of myself actually after the whole thing worked out,” she said.

Woolsey contacted the DMV after she took her 15-year-old daughter, Abby, to get her learner’s permit.

“We had meticulously gone through the whole list of requirements online,” she said. by: SUBMITTED - Beth and Abby Woolsey

So when the form asked if she was the legal guardian, biological or adoptive parent, she was irked. Woolsey and her husband had adopted Abby from Vietnam and didn’t feel it was necessary for her to check a box telling the DMV that. But she was going to let it go, until the employee at the final check-out counter questioned her about it.

“She said, `Oh wait, are you not the biological parent?’ And I said, no I’m the adoptive, I just prefer to say I’m her mother though, and she said, ‘Well me might require some additional paperwork to show you are her parent before we can allow her to get her permit,’” Woolsey said. “So I didn’t know what was different about adoption that would mean we need to provide anything additional. And she kept saying we may need something additional, so I strongly advised her to get a supervisor and ask because at this point we were delayed.”

At this point, Woolsey and her daughter were allowed to leave without any additional paperwork, but it left Woolsey upset. So she wrote about it on her blog, putdowntheurinalcake.com, and contacted Newberg City Council member Denise Bacon to help track down whom at the DMV to talk to.

After talking with an assistant, she was told her message would be forwarded on — and it was, to Becky Renninger.

“Clearly she got the message, did the research and called me right back,” Woolsey said.

Renninger is an operations and policy analyst for the DMV. She told Woolsey the agency would get rid of the check box.

“The reason we can make the change quickly is because the form was up for revision,” Renninger said. “We aren’t perfect, but we can make changes.”

She said there were good intentions behind the extra box, but once Woolsey explained her viewpoint, it made sense to get rid of it.

“Last time it was reviewed someone thought it would be a good idea to add a box, but we shouldn’t have because we don’t care,” she said. “The idea was to save an uncomfortable conversation that doesn’t need to happen.”

Woolsey said luckily her daughter is secure in her place in her family and with herself, but a conversation like that could be detrimental to adoptees who aren’t.

“That conversation with my other adopted son or daughter would have devastated either one of them, so I was more concerned on their behalf,” she said.

The form is up for revision within the next few weeks and Renninger said the check box has been marked for removal. Once they are re-printed she said she isn’t sure if the old ones will be destroyed or just cycled through.

“Even if we don’t get rid of the old forms I anticipate they will cycle through quickly,” she said.

Woolsey said she’s glad for the change, but also for the helpfulness of the DMV.

“Probably the coolest thing that happened was hearing from people like Becky’s sister who said (Becky is) a mom and daughter, a sister, a grandmother, who is like everybody else doing her job at the DMV because she genuinely wants to help people,” she said. “They get a lot of flack for that and don’t get a lot of props for being a public servant and (Becky) doesn’t get a lot of credit for being a genuinely wonderful person.”