The New York State Department of Health is working on the process to handle requests from adoptees who were adopted in New York but not born in the state. Here’s what we know. Please note that this is a developing issue and the final process may change at any time.
Many adoptees were adopted in New York but not born in the state. The new law has a special provision for that:
When it shall be impossible for the commissioner or a local registrar to provide a copy of an adult adopted person’s original long form birth certificate (as may occur in the case of an adopted person born outside of, but adopted within, the state and such certificate is not part of the records of the commissioner or a local registrar), the true and correct information about the adopted person and the adopted person’s birth parents, including their identifying information, that would have appeared on such original birth certificate shall be provided to . . the adopted person, if eighteen years of age or more . . . by any authorized agency . . . .
I’ve simplified this a bit to cut out some language, but the gist of it is this: if you were born in another state but adopted in New York, you have rights under this new law. As it’s written, the law gives you a right to obtain your “identifying information” from an authorized agency, which by definition includes the adoption agency or court that handled the adoption.
Here’s how the state is currently handling this issue (and I’ve also pasted the state’s FAQ below for more context):
- If you were born outside of New York but adopted through the state, it is best to call the state’s central vital records department phone number. That number is (855) 322-1022. Do not call VitalChek. Call the number I just listed. You should also be able to email the department at [email protected].
- Explain that you are an adoptee born in another state but adopted in New York and that you would like your identifying information under the new law.
- The representative should be able to take your information over the phone.
- Once it has your information, the department will then determine if any identifying information is in the files of the Adoption Registry.
- If records exist, the state is implementing a process to release the records or information that is required by the new law, which is defined as “the true and correct information about the adopted person and the adopted person’s birth parents, including their identifying information, that would have appeared on [the] original birth certificate.”
- If no records exist, the department will provide the name of the adoption agency or court that handled the adoption, if it has that information. At that point, you should contact the agency if an agency was involved. If this was a private placement adoption, though, the only further recourse would be to contact the court that handled the adoption and has the adoption records.
Here’s what we don’t know, as the process is still developing. But we have been assured that New York State is working diligently to answer these unknowns.
- We do not know yet what form of information will be provided by the state if the Adoption Registry or the state department of health has your information in its files.
- We do not know yet how individual adoption agencies will handle the requests. We do know that Spence Chapin, one of the largest agencies, is aware of the new law and is also working to implement it.
- We do not know yet how the courts will handle these requests.
- We do not know yet if or how much an agency or court will charge to provide the identifying information, nor the form of such information (whether a document with the information on it or a copy of an original birth certificate from the adoptee’s birth state if that certificate exists in the file).
It is best to be patient as the various players work through this. This provision is complicated and provides rights that most other states have never provided. As you work through the process, please let us know what you find out and how that process has worked (or has not worked for you). We will pass that information on to others in the same or similar situation and also communicate any concerns or issues directly to the state department of health.
The State Department of Health FAQ on this Issue
If I was not born in New York State, but was adopted in New York State, will I be able to obtain my original, pre-adoption birth certificate?
The NYS Department of Health generally does not maintain pre-adoption birth certificates or other adoption information for individuals born outside of NYS, and therefore may not have information to provide in response to an application submitted under the new legislation. However, in some instances adoptees, or members of their birth family, may have registered with the NYS Adoption Information Registry and provided information to that registry. In those instances, the New York State Department of Health may release identifying information contained in the registry. If New York State is unable to provide identifying information to the adoptee, the legislation does allow adoption agencies to release information to the adoptee. In these instances, out of state born adoptees are encouraged to seek information directly from their adoption agency.
If you still choose to apply, please use the Adoptee Application for Copy of PreAdoption Birth Certificate. Unfortunately, at this time we cannot accept online orders for individuals born outside of NYS.