June 20, 2019

Assembly Passes Legislation to Enable Adoptees to Access Birth Certificate

Speaker Carl Heastie, Health Committee Chair Richard N.Gottfried and Assemblymember David Weprin today announced the Assembly has passed legislation that would allow adoptees to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate (A.5494, Weprin).

"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," said Speaker Heastie. "This legislation would ensure all New York adoptees have access to the information they need and deserve."

"Access to your personal information who you are and where you come from is a human right," said Assemblymember Gottfried. "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. I am proud we passed this bill today and look forward to the governor signing it into law."

"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," said Assemblymember Weprin. "Our outdated laws are designed to protect the anonymity of birth parents that may not have even requested it, with no regard for the needs of the adoptee.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."

Under the bill, adult adoptees 18 years and older would be able to receive a certified copy of their original long form birth certificate. If the adoptee is deceased, the adopted person's direct line of descendants, the lawful representative of such adopted person or lawful representatives of such deceased adopted person's direct line of descendants would be able to receive the birth certificate of the adoptee.

Under current law, original birth certificates are placed under seal and cannot be accessed without a judicial proceeding, which does not guarantee that the adoptee will be given access.