New York State is ready to take the next step in in updating the adoption laws by allowing adopted adults access to their original birth certificates and updated medical histories.

As the current laws stands, NY does not allow adopted adults access to their birth certificates or any other identifying information about their natural families. Instead, they have an amended birth certificate with their adoptive parents names on it.

States that allow adopted adults to receive a copy of their original birth certificates include Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Joining these states in the 2007 legislation to open records for adopted adults include Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, and Minnesota.

According to Joyce Bahr, the President of Unsealed Initiative:

Passage of the Assembly Bill A9823 / Senate Bill S446 in NY will allow adult adoptees, age eighteen or older, the right to their original Birth Certificate and updated medical information. We are asking for the same right that non-adopted persons take for granted. The New York State adoption law that seals records is unfair, outdated and discriminatory. The law violates adoptees’ civil rights.

Support for this bill comes from all areas, including adoptive parents in NY, natural parents in NY, as well as Catholic Charities in Albany, the Child Welfare League of America, NY State Citizen’s Coalition for Children, the Presbyterian Church, the National Adoption Center, Concerned United Birthparents, Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association, Americans for Open Records, Holt International Children’s Services, American Adoption Congress, Spence Chapin Adoption Agency (NYC), and many more organizations in NY, as well as over 4,000 individuals who have signed an online petition in New York to repeal the sealed adoption laws.

The argument that people have used in the past, is that there is concern about violating the rights of natural mothers, who were promised confidentiality. However, as the organization Birthparent Project states, natural mothers have never requested nor been promised anonymity.

For the minority who would not want to be contacted by the adoptee, the natural parent would have the option of choosing a no contact preference under the New York bill.

However, the secrecy of adoption is becoming a thing of the past. For example, Mary M.O., is a natural mother that was awarded visitation of her daughter on November 21rst in an open adoption. Not only does she not want to be a secret to her daughter, but she also wants a relationship with her and the adoptive parents of her daughter. She had agreed to an adoption, with the condition of being able to visit her daughter. Even though as of yet, New York does not have to legally enforce open adoption agreements, in this case they did, setting a precedent for future cases.

Open adoption enforcement is much more controversial than adopted adults accessing their birth records. Since NY is enforcing open adoption agreements, it is well past time to allow adopted adults access to their records.

Heather Kuhn is an author and freelance writer. She blogs at Todays News and Blogger News Network

To view Assembly Bill A9823 / Senate Bill S446 and its sponsors: Click Here

For more information Contact:
Unsealed Initiative

To keep updated on New York’s progress for open records, Contact:
Sylvia’s Adoption Activism Page

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