New York City

Bill would give NY adoptees access to birth certificate, medical history

Adoptee rights movement grows

June 11, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
b_Senator Montgomery, Veteran Peter W. Franklin with AdopteesWithoutLiberty, Assemblyman Weprin and New York Statewide Adoption Reform's UNSEALED INITIATIVE.jpg
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Adult adoptees in New York State would be able to obtain a copy of their original birth certificates and a medical history form, under a bill proposed by Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows).

The bill would also provide a birth parent with a form letting the child know if they wanted to be contacted by the child or through an intermediary.

Weprin, along with co-sponsor Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) and other representatives held a joint press conference with the New York Statewide Adoption Reform’s “Unsealed Initiative” at City Hall to support the “Bill of Adoptee Rights.”

“It is very important to me for all people, especially adoptees, to have ready access to their birth certificates and birth family medical records for their health and the well being of their families,” Senator Montgomery said in a statement.

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“New York State adoptees are currently denied their original birth certificates and in turn knowledge of their original families, ethnicities, medical histories and more,” said Senator Andrew J. Lanza (R-Staten Island).  “No one should be denied the right to obtain information about themselves concerning medical or other personal information of the nature involved here.”

Amending the existing New York adoption laws would provide adoptees age 18 and older with birth certificates and in many cases information about religious and ethnic ancestry as well as medical information.

Under the bill, the adoptee would receive a certified copy of his or her original birth certificate.  The copy would state: “This is a certified copy of an original birth certificate. This original birth certificate has been superseded by another certificate on file with the appropriate government agency.”

Joyce Bahr, President of Adoption Reform’s Unsealed Initiative urged the Assembly and the Senate to pass the bill, saying, “No other group of U.S. citizens has their identities withheld by the state. The Bill of Adoptee Rights gives all adult adoptees the right to non-certified copy of their birth certificate as well family medical records and does so with respect to birth parents who will have the option to file a contact preference if they choose so.”

Currently, a New York adoptee cannot access his or her original birth certificate unless they go through the courts, and even then, the outcome is not guaranteed.

An online petition urging passage of the bill has garnered more than 8,000 signatures at

Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Alabama and Rhode Island have passed open records legislation; Kansas and Alaska are the only states that never sealed records.

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