Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation allowing adoptees over 18 to apply for their original NY long-form birth certificates, giving New York adoptees the ability to get information about their adoption and their birth parents.
So, as of January 15th, 2020, New York became the 10th state to give adoptees the right to access their original birth certificates. Read on for more information about the new regulations and how you can apply to get your original birth certificate
Adoptees in New York can obtain their birth certificates
The recent changes to the law give adoptees the right to access their New York birth certificates at 18 or older. This was not previously allowed, and birth information that adoptees could access was limited and only given out for specific, valid reasons.
Now, all New York adoptees over 18 can access their vital records, allowing them to learn the names of their biological parents. In addition to satisfying a desire or curiosity that many adoptees have, it also gives them access to their family health histories, since they can learn more about any hereditary conditions or predispositions they may have.
Assembly Member David Weprin praised the new law, saying that “For too long New York’s archaic laws have denied adult adoptees access to background information and a complete health history that nearly everyone has a legal right to, including those who ‘age-out’ of foster care.”
Previously, original birth certificates were sealed and unaccessible and adoptees were required to appear in court to argue their need to see their birth records. However, even going before a judge and requesting access was not guaranteed to work.
When the new law was passed, Weprin also stated that, “Our outdated laws are designed to protect the anonymity of birth parents that may not have even requested it, with no regard for the needs of the adoptee. Today’s legislation will deliver equality for all New York adoptees.”
Birth records are a basic human right
Adoptees will now have access to information about their family medical history, as well as the ability to learn who their birth parents are. Due to advances in science and medicine, knowing your family’s health history has become more important than ever. Now, adoptees have the ability to learn about any hereditary diseases or medical issues that they may be predisposed to or carry. This information also gives their doctors more insight into symptoms or conditions that the adoptees may be experiencing. In the past, family medical history was not that useful. However, it is now a vital tool for medical professionals, and adoptees deserve the same right as everyone else to have access to their family health information.
According to Governor Cuomo, “Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records —it’s a basic human right.”
While Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie added, “Knowing who we are and where we came from is critical not only to understanding our heritage, but for knowing our health history and any risks it might pose.”
You can also check out: How can I get my Original Birth Certificate if I was adopted?
Widespread support for the new law
The new legislation was supported by many government officials, including Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who brought the bill to the Senate and went on record saying, “I am so proud to have been the Senate sponsor of the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights, and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this historic piece of legislation. This has been long overdue.”
Montgomery also praised the hard work of advocates for the bill, stating that “We owe our success to the advocacy of thousands of adult adoptees who have fought tirelessly on this issue for over 20 years. The level of support I received for this legislation from adult adoptees all across the state and the nation was astounding. It is important that they have the right to seek answers about their health, their family history, and their heritage.”
Other officials also lauded the changes and expressed their satisfaction with the updated laws:
“For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all,” Cuomo declared.
“Why should an adult have any less rights than any non-adoptee? It has major psychological implications, and that simple piece of paper is part of their DNA and really belongs to them,” said the bill’s Assembly sponsor David Weprin.
Assembly Member Gottfried also stated that, “New Yorkers need their own medical histories in order to make better health care choices. And connecting adoptees and birth parents works; in the overwhelming majority of cases, these reunions are cherished by both parties.”
You may also be interested in reading: What is a certified copy of a Birth Certificate?