The following is the text of a NYARC press release distributed after the New York State Senate voted 56-6 to pass Senate Bill S3419 on Monday, June 3, 2019.
The New York State Senate today overwhelmingly approved a bill that would end 83 years of iron-clad secrecy over the birth certificates of adult adopted persons. The bill, sponsored by Senator Velmanette Montgomery in the Senate, would restore a right that New York adoptees once had: the right as adults to request and receive their own pre-adoption birth records.
It is a right that advocates have been working across the country to restore for decades, going back at least to the beginning of the adoptee rights movement in New York in the early 1970s.
Governor Andrew Cuomo had already vetoed discriminatory legislation in 2017 that would have continued to restrict the rights of New York adoptees. In his message as part of that veto, the Governor requested a better bill from the legislature and ordered a state agency workgroup to study the issue and to make recommendations. The Montgomery/Weprin bill, S3419/A5494, came directly out of that process, and a large bipartisan group of legislators now stand firmly behind it.
After bi-partisan and passionate floor speeches from Senator Montgomery as well as from Senator Diane Savino, Senator James Skoufis, and Senator Andrew Lanza, the Senate voted 56-6 to pass the bill and forward it to the Assembly for final consideration and enactment. Already, Governor Cuomo has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
“This is an historic moment in the State of New York where we will for the first time allow for adoptees in the state of New York to receive a certified copy of their own original birth certificate, currently for those people who have never had an opportunity to do that and going forward for anyone who reaches the age of 18,” said Senator Montgomery in introducing the bill on the Senate floor.
“This represents the first time the New York Senate has unequivocally endorsed the right of all people to possess their own heritage and identity,” said Annette O’Connell, the spokesperson for New York Adoptee Rights Coalition and who was present for the Senate vote along with Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy. “It also represents the incredibly hard work of Senator Montgomery and her staff as well as thousands of New Yorkers and civil rights advocates. The Senate’s vote provides clear recognition that New York’s experiment in enforcing eternal state secrecy over a person’s own vital record has become unworkable, discriminatory, and punitive.”
The issue now moves to the New York State Assembly, where a similar bill is awaiting action in the Codes Committee, chaired by Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, with whom NYARC met last week to prompt the bill’s movement.
If enacted, the Weprin/Montgomery Bill will also likely influence legislation in other states, with New York as the new leader for honesty and truth in adoption practices. While nine states already recognize or have restored the right of adoptees to obtain a copy of their own birth certificates, numerous states continue to consider similar legislation. For the millions of adoptees in the United States, enacting the Montgomery/Weprin bill may prompt those and other states to follow.
“Hundreds of thousands of people were born and adopted in New York and tens of millions of families are linked to adoption,” said Gregory D. Luce, a national expert on adoptee rights and the founder of the Adoptee Rights Law Center. “We are now looking for continued leadership from the governor’s office and from Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie on this issue, which is about basic equality—a simple right to know your own heritage and who you are.”
New York Adoptee Rights Coalition
Special thanks to Jay Hunter of New York based Flower City Media for providing video of today’s vote in the Senate.
John Joseph Squillacioti says
Well it’s about time.
Loren Smith says
Thank you … thank you … thank you … after 65 years of not knowing … finally we can get confirmation. I can not tell you what this means to us.
Susanne Girvan says
This is absolutely wonderful news🇺🇸I am 73yrs old and adopted at age 6 mos. I want my original birth certificate very badly! I hope this will be passed soon so I can have it while I am still living. Thank you so very much for your hard work.
Lloyd Janow says
This is a great day for all adoptees who have no history of there history. I look forward to this bill being passed quickly. Thank you for all the hard work that went into this great moment.
One American says
Oh my word!!!! What a triumph for all who needlessly suffer~ I am forever grateful to each and every champion that has delivered us to this historical moment! Governor Cuomo will change our world when he restores Justice, Dignity, and Health to all affected by these long-standing discriminatory practices. Thank you New York!!!
South Carolinian adoptee over here cheering you all on in congratulations despite the jealousy! Thank you for doing what is right!
Barbara Raymond says
It’s time and this will be great. Why should adopted people be denied something everyone else has — something so desperately important. This is exciting.
I’m so thankful at 64 yrs old I can get my real birth certificate. Thank you all so much who pushed this through. I never thought I’d see this day come true!.
Doris Michol Sippel says
All the hard work that went into this! Thank you to all who did your part!
I’m 63 years old. I was found at age 18 in 1974 by family I was never supposed to know. That’s when I learned that I had two birth certificates – one in my adopted name and one in my name of birth. I’ve been fighting for adoptees’ civil and human rights now for 45 years.
Make this happen New York!
Susanne Girvan says
Please make it happen SOON!!!!!!!! It is so important to us adoptees. I am 73….I have been waiting a long time.
Well I think that for all the old adoptions this my give you closure as to why you were placed up for adoption, however, with a lot of the newer adoptions we already have all the info we need and DNA websites that can find anyone. So finally some closure for a lot of folks.
Doris Michol Sippel says
Please understand that this is about adoptees’ civil rights, no matter if we are old or 20-something or young children. The fact is that all adopted people suffer the indignation of the state removing our authentic birth certificates, sealing them, and then replacing them with amended birth certificates issued after the finalization of adoption. It is this fact that makes all adoptees unequal to non-adopted citizens.
This bill will give all New York State adopted people the right to obtain a copy of our sealed birth certificate.
This isn’t for us older adoptees, this is for all – including adoptees who have yet to be born and then adopted.
DNA and open adoption has nothing to do with this bill. It doesn’t matter if DNA can find people. It doesn’t matter if open adoption provides information. What matters is that New York State is finally recognizing that all adopted people in this State will now (when signed into law by Gov. Cuomo) have the legal right to our authentic birth certificate, a right that was taken away from us in 1936. Prior to 1936, all adoptees in New York State had the legal right to own and use their authentic birth certificate side by side with their adoption decree.
This may be closure for some, a new beginning for others, but the actual point of this bill becoming law is that of legal rights. Non-adopted people already have rights to own and use their birth certificate; adoptees do not have that right. This bill becoming law will partially restore legal rights to all New York State adopted people.
I say “partially restore” because this bill, as law, will allow an adoptee to access, and then own, a copy of their still sealed original birth certificate, but the amended birth certificate issued upon adoption will remain our legal birth certificate and our legal identity.
Amen! So we’ll said!!!
Doris Michol Sippel says
This bill is about access to sealed birth certificates, which is the first step to fully restoring adoptees’ complete civil rights. Our birth certificates should never have been taken from us in the first place.
Birth is birth.
Adoption is a legal transaction.
Adoption should not be officially represented on a falsified birth certificate. Our adoptive parents did not give birth to us so it makes no sense for their names to be on a document that states they sired, conceived, and gave birth when they didn’t.
Adoptive parents should not have the right to re-name a child. Re-naming a child on a new birth certificate is disrespecting the child’s natural born identity and personhood. Replacing the names of our natural parents with the names of adopters as if they gave birth is not only lying, but it is denying of facts, and delusional.
This has nothing to do with competition, or love, or who is a real parent. Caring for a child who needs a home should not require that child to lose their identity and parents.
Reality ought to be properly documented. Adoption ought to be documented, not only on the sealed Final Court Order of Adoption, but on an official Certificate of Adoption.
Birth is officially recorded on a Certificate of Live Birth, signed by the attending physician.
An Amended Birth Certificate issued after the finalization of adoption does not have the attending physician’s signature; there isn’t even a line for it as this was omitted on the form created specifically for amended birth certificates.
Adoption is one step in a child’s life. Adoption is an event that takes place sometime after birth. It should not be officially recognized as a replacement of the actual birth.
This is not addressed in this bill, but this is the larger picture that needs to be dealt with in further legislation.
I’m thrilled! I’ve submitted papers for 2 decades with no further info.
Ali S. says
I have been waiting for this my entire life!!! Thank you to everyone who has championed this bill. You cannot imagine how it feels not knowing where you came from , what your name was and who gave you life. No one should ever have to wonder these things again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!
I am so excited for my state!! This is great news.
Madeleine Sklar says
So how soon can we get our orginals? and what if our birth mother gave a false name. Also can we still get the information about our birth parents, or mother even if the agency has closed . I was adopted through Louise Wise agency in 1942.
Doris Michol Sippel says
The answers to most of your questions can be found at this link:
This is the link to the bill itself:
To apply to receive a copy of the sealed Original Birth Certificate, once the bill goes into effect on January 15, 2020, adoptees contact the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in Albany, or perhaps (I’m uncertain about this) their local Registrar of Vital Statistics. More information will be available when the bill becomes law! New York Adoptee Rights Coalition will keep us all informed!
If mothers gave false names, there may be no other recourse but to then take the released Original Birth Certificate to the hospital to ask for your birth records. And then try DNA tests.
What is the next step/time table in this process?
Will the children of Adoptees be able to get copies if their parent who was adopted is deceased? My mother in law died in the spring of 2016 without knowing who her parents were. She was 92 and the state would not make an exception, even with her age, even though she had terminal cancer. So will my husband and his siblings have an opportunity to get a copy of the birth certificate if this passes the assembly and is signed by the governor?
Tracy W. says
I am excited by the news of this passing in the senate. The last year of my life has been very challenging as I was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer along with a gene mutation called CHEK2 (similar to brca). I have had big surgeries and extensive treatments. There is no doubt in my mind that had I known my family health history, this could have been detected much earlier or possibly avoided. It is our right to have the same access to vital family health history as others.
Margaret Uebelacker says
As the mother of 2 adopted daughters, I applaud all who have worked to make this a possibility. Let’s hope there’s no last minute political games to stall it!