Update and Big News!
When we wrote this post we were still waiting on Assemblymember David Weprin’s adoptee rights bill. He has now introduced A5494 and it already has 77 sponsors at introduction, more than enough supporters to pass through the Assembly! His bill is here and it is identical to S3419, which we analyzed below. Stay tuned for action alerts and other things you can do to advance the bill, and make sure you sign up here to get those alerts.
As we have already informed our supporters by email, we have good news. After months of work we have a clean and unrestricted bill to announce. Last week, Senator Velmanette Montgomery introduced S3419, which restores the right of all New York adult adoptees to request and obtain certified copies of their own original birth certificates. Unaltered and without restrictions. Yesterday, Assemblymember introduced the same bill in the Assembly, which also had 77 initial co-sponsors. Here are the core issues that Weprin/Montgomery bill addresses (and you can read the full text here):
- restores the right of an adult adoptee to request and obtain a certified copy of the “original long form line by line, vault copy birth certificate,” otherwise known as the OBC, with no restrictions other than the adoptee is at least 18 years of age at the time of the request;
- if the adoptee is deceased, allows direct line descendants or a lawful representative of the adoptee to request and obtain the OBC;
- addresses issues related to people born born outside of New York but whose adoptions were finalized by a New York state court. If a copy of the OBC from the other jurisdiction is not available from a New York registrar, then information that would have appeared on the OBC must be provided by the adoption agency;
- addresses original birth certificates on file with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, an extremely important provision because New York City currently possesses many pre-adoption birth certificates;
- addresses certain OBCs that may also be held by registrars in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers;
- is effective January 15, 2020.
The New York Adoptee Rights Coalition (NYARC) worked with legislative staff and other advocates on the language in Senator Montgomery’s bill, which already has broad bipartisan support as well as the support of thousands of New York constituents. NYARC has also been working with Assembly Member David Weprin and other legislators for more than a year, including participating with him on Governor Cuomo’s adoptee rights workgroup last April. Assembly Member Weprin’s leadership on this issue continues. His bill has been filed and is awaiting a bill number in the New York Assembly.
We will update our supporters soon with next steps—sign up here to get on our email list. We will also compare all existing New York bills to answer any questions and to let you know why NYARC will be pursuing the Weprin/Montgomery legislation.