Albany, NY At a press conference today, with a dozen New York adoptee rights advocacy members, Assemblyman David I. Weprin (D Fresh Meadows) stood with several Sponsoring Assembly Members on both sides of the aisle to unveil the new Adoptee Bill of Rights (A2901/S3314), which currently has 90 sponsors in the Assembly. Weprin announced his commitment to continue to fight for the passage of the Adoptee Bill of Rights as a way to provide equal access to medical history and information to all adult adoptees in the State of New York.
This long overdue legislation, once passed, would finally allow for an adopted person who has reached the age of eighteen (18) to request from the Department of Health, a non-certified copy of his or her birth certificate and/or medical history, if available. Currently, adoptees may only obtain original birth certificates through a cumbersome judicial process or by hiring an often expensive private investigator. Ethnic and religious heritage, medical history, and the ability to make contact with ones birth parents should not only be available to adoptees who can afford a private investigator, but to all adult adoptees, said Assembly Member Weprin. I believe that this will be the year that the Adoptee Bill of Rights becomes law, and I am thankful for all 89 other Sponsoring Members for their incredible support.
Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (D - Kings) said, "There are many reasons to remove current legal obstacles facing adoptees who want to obtain their birth information. The need for medical history is perhaps the most compelling. This information should not be the privilege of those with the money to pay for it. Researching birth parents should not be restricted. I join my Assembly colleagues to support the Adoptee Bill of Rights (A2901) and proudly co-sponsor it.
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried (D/WF Manhattan) said, Access to your own personal information is a human right. New Yorkers need their own medical histories in order to make better healthcare choices. This bill balances personal rights and privacy, and I am proud we reported it from the Health Committee today.
Senator Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, There is nothing more important to someone than knowing who they are and where they come from. But for adoptees in New York State, that is a question they may never know. Passage of the adoptee bill of rights will help them with access to their medical and familial history. In today's world, it is critical for people to have as much information about their medical history in order to make good health decisions.
Assembly Member Marc W. Butler (R/C/I Newport) said, My adopted daughter, upon her eighteenth birthday, went to the adoption registry to see if she could find out about her birth mother and her heritage. Unfortunately, the birth mother did not sign onto the registry. Its hard to describe the anguish our daughter felt. Her words to me were, I feel like my mother abandoned me twice. Although we received some basic information from the adoption agency, from a more practical point of view various health problems our daughter faced may have been easier for us to address if we had more information about her background.
Assembly Member Joseph M. Giglio (D - Cattaraugus) said, "I'm pleased to co-sponsor and support this common sense legislation creating the Adoptee Bill of Rights. It is important that adoptees have access to vital information regarding their family medical history and their heritage. This legislation has been proposed for several years, and I'm hopeful that this year, by working in a bipartisan fashion with colleagues in both the Assembly and the Senate, it will become law."
Assembly Member Mark C. Johns (R/C/I Webster) said, This is a very important piece of legislation. All adoptees should have access to pertinent information regarding their health and well-being, just as a non-adoptee would. For this, and other applicable reasons, I co-sponsored this bill.
Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan) said, "One of the most routine questions any doctor asks during a regular visit is about the patient's family medical history. Unfortunately, for adoptees there is no easy answer: they don't whether their mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 45 or whether their father had high blood pressure. This information is critical to preventing and diagnosing disease and could prove lifesaving. It is critical that we provide adoptees with legal access to their birth certificates and biological family medical history, things that all non-adopted children are legally entitled to access.
I have every confidence that this vital legislation will restore my right to see my own birth record. This is about restoring our right that was ours for a very long time, said Cathi Swett, Esq., Downstate Coordinator for the New York State Adoptee Equality. I am very grateful for our sponsor, Assemblyman David Weprin and Chairman Gottfried, who pushed it through the Health Committee today.
Every adopted person is entitled to a record of their birth, said Carolyn DAgostino, Esq., Upstate Coordinator for the New York State Adoptee Equality. They are entitled to know their ancestry, their medical history, and their heritage.