Adoptee Rights Bill Passes after Decades Long Struggle

ALBANY, NEW YORK – The Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights, A5494/S3419, passed the Assembly after a decade’s long push by advocates and lawmakers and now heads to the Governor for a signature. The legislation sponsored by Assemblyman David I. Weprin in the Assembly and Senator Velmanette Montgomery in the Senate establishes the right of adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate upon reaching the age of 18. Weprin has sponsored the bill since 2011 during his earliest days in the Assembly. The bill was sponsored by two-thirds of the Assembly Chamber and passed by a vote of 126 to 2.

The legislation restores important civil rights to adult adoptees such as their right to access information that non-adopted persons have a legal right to obtain. In New York State, an adoptee cannot access his or her original birth certificate unless the adoptee goes through a judicial proceeding which does not guarantee that access will be granted. Some adoptees have spent thousands of dollars in genetic testing and private investigators to access information that should be available as of right.

“There is no reason why adoptees should be denied the right to learn about their family histories, medical histories, and personal backgrounds. Today, the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights will right this historical wrong and finally restore important civil rights to many New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman David Weprin. “I applaud my Assembly and Senate colleagues for passing this momentous bill that will change the lives of adopted individuals and I thank the many adoptee advocacy groups who worked to get this bill to the floor. I urge the Governor to sign this legislation and ensure that adoptees are treated equally under the law.”

“This Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights is a reflection of the advocacy of thousands of adult adoptees for over 20 years. They deserve the right to seek answers about their health, their family history and their heritage,” said State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. “I thank the advocates for all of their hard work and my colleagues who voted overwhelmingly in support of this bill. I urge Governor Cuomo to sign this historic piece of legislation.”