The New York Adoptee Rights Coalition issued the following press statement after the signing of S3419 on November 14, 2019
GOVERNOR CUOMO MAKES HISTORY, SIGNS BILL ENDING 83 YEARS OF SECRECY OVER NEW YORK ADOPTEES’ OWN BIRTH RECORDS
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday signed a bill that ends 83 years of iron-clad secrecy over the birth certificates of adult adopted persons. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman David I. Weprin in the Assembly and Senator Velmanette Montgomery in the Senate, becomes effective in January 2020 and will restore a right that New York adoptees once had: the right as adults to request and receive their own pre-adoption birth records.
“This will change countless lives and push other states to do what is right and what is equal,” said Annette O’Connell, the spokesperson for the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition, which spearheaded efforts to pass the historic legislation. “This happened because state and national organizations like Bastard Nation, Adoptee Rights Law Center, and the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York came together as a coalition to assure that the bottom line of equality was always the only line being pursued.”
Adoptees have been advocating for equal rights legislation across the country for more than 50 years, going back to Florence Fisher, a New York adoptee considered one of the founders of the adoptee rights movement in the early 1970s.
“Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records— it’s a basic human right,” Governor Cuomo said in a released 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.”
With Governor Cuomo’s signature, New York becomes the tenth state to recognize or restore the right of adult adoptees to obtain a copy of their own original birth certificates.
“For more than 80 years New York adoptees endured a humiliating, frustrating, costly, and rarely successful process when they requested their own vital records,” said Marley Greiner, Executive Chair of Bastard Nation, one of the oldest and largest adoptee rights organizations in the United States. “The enactment of S3419 reverses that discrimination and repeals a Depression-era law that had prevented adults from possessing their own original birth certificates.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people were born and adopted in New York and tens of millions of families are linked to those adoptees or to adoption in some way,” said Gregory D. Luce, an attorney and founder of the Adoptee Rights Law Center.
“It’s hard to underestimate what this bill signals and what the leadership of Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Senator Montgomery, and Assembly Member Weprin will mean for equal rights legislation in other parts of the country. New York got it right. It has made it equal for adopted people in that state. It has set the bar for 40 other states and the District of Columbia to follow.”
New York Adoptee Rights Coalition