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New York Law Gives Adoptees Access To Birth Certificates

Hans Pennink
New York Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-Poughkeepsie, speaks in favor of legislation for adoptees to receive a certified birth certificate at the age of 18, at the state Capitol in June. Gov. Cuomo signed the bill into law on Thursday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that allows New York to join nine other states to allow adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18-years-old.

“Every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records – it's a basic human right," Cuomo said, in a statement. "For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information, and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all."

Assembly sponsor David Weprin, a Queens Democrat, says up until now, an adopted person in New York had to petition a court to gain access to the names of their birth parents. Now they just have to apply to the New York City or their county health department to get the records. Weprin says it’s a sign of changing attitudes about adoption.

“There was a stigma attached to giving up a child for adoption,” Weprin said. “And that’s not the case anymore.”

He says many birth members would like to reunite with the children that they gave up for adoption.

Weprin predicts it will lead to the reunification of many families.  

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.