New York Adoptees Over 18 Receive Right to Obtain Birth Certificates

Last updated May 27th, 2021

The Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo recently signed new legislation allowing adopted citizens to obtain their birth certificate. The new law takes effect on January 15th, 2020, turning New York into the 10th state to allow adoptees unrestricted access to their birth certificates.

Meanwhile, the commissioner of the state health department is working on sorting out the new rules and regulations for how to comply.

New NY law lets adoptees obtain their Birth Certificates

The legislation will grant adoptees the right to apply to their local or state health department to receive their New York birth certificate upon turning 18. Such requests from adoptees had previously been rejected since the type of information available for adopted persons was restricted.

This new law also eliminates a government agency’s former ability to impose limitations on a person’s attempt to obtain this vital record.

In addition, the law lifts previous restrictions regarding adopted citizens’ biological parents. This, in turn, makes their medical information available to adoptees in hopes it will help them prevent disease and/or death.

Under current law, New York adoptees’ original birth certificates are stored under seal and cannot be accessed without a judicial proceeding, which does not guarantee that access to the document will be granted. Advocates have fought for 20 years for New York’s law to open adoption records.

Assembly Member David Weprin stated "Our outdated laws are designed to protect the anonymity of birth parents that may not have even requested it, with no regard for the needs of the adoptee. Today's legislation will deliver equality for all New York adoptees."

"For too long New York's archaic laws have denied adult adoptees access to background information and a complete health history that nearly everyone has a legal right to, including those who 'age-out' of foster care," said Assembly Member David Weprin.

Adoptees’ Birth Certificates are a basic human right

The new bill will allow adopted citizens to understand who their biological parents are as well as providing valuable knowledge about their family’s medical history.

Governor Cuomo stated in a press release, “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.”.

"Knowing who we are and where we came from is critical not only to understanding our heritage, but for knowing our health history and any risks it might pose," said Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Why should an adult have any less rights than any non-adoptee? It has major psychological implications, and that simple piece of paper is part of their DNA and really belongs to them,” declared the bill’s Assembly sponsor David Weprin.

Assembly Member Gottfried added, "New Yorkers need their own medical histories in order to make better health care choices. And connecting adoptees and birth parents works; in the overwhelming majority of cases, these reunions are cherished by both parties."

Read more: How can I get my Original Birth Certificate if I was adopted?

Governor Andrew Cuomo signs new legislation on adoptees

Governor Cuomo signed new legislation which will allow 18-year-old adoptees to receive their certified long-form NY birth certificates. This new bill was signed to help ensure that adopted people are provided the right to information about their birth and biological parents.

“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.”, Cuomo said.

The new law has earned the support of numerous officials, including Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who carried the bill to the Senate.

“We owe our success to the advocacy of thousands of adult adoptees who have fought tirelessly on this issue for over 20 years. The level of support I received for this legislation from adult adoptees all across the state and the nation was astounding. It is important that they have the right to seek answers about their health, their family history, and their heritage.”, said Montgomery.

“I am so proud to have been the Senate sponsor of the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights, and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this historic piece of legislation. This has been long overdue.”, Montgomery added.

Read more: What is a certified copy of a Birth Certificate?