Advance “CLEAN” New York Bill of Adoptee Rights
New York residents, natives and all friends to adoption reform:
HELP NY ADOPTEES GAIN UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES! PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE!
Since the 1930s, New York State adoption records have been sealed.
Sealing adoption records includes the denial of original birth certificates which hinder adoptees from knowing their origins and seeking complete health history. We believe that adoptees should not be denied heritage or treated as though they have a pre-existing medical condition (simply for being adopted) that is not consistent with current national initiatives to extend healthcare to all. New York adoptees are being left behind.
Adoptees who appeal to NY courts with medical concerns are routinely denied, and some have died without the benefit of proper healthcare.
This is a blatant violation of basic human rights and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For over 20 years, NY lawmakers have been considering legislation for adoption reform.
The law must be changed in New York as soon as possible.
As of 2016, nine other U.S. states offer unrestricted access to original birth certificates for adult adoptees. Seven of the nine states enacted unrestricted birth certificate access / “clean” reform (Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Rhode Island). The other two states, Alaska and Kansas, never sealed adult adoptee birth certificates.
In Oregon, judicial precedent was set by upholding unrestricted birth certificates access / “clean” reform:
- Oregon citizens approved a ballot measure for unrestricted birth certificate access / “clean” reform (1998)
- Oregon state courts upheld the ballot measure (1999)
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor helped, refusing to delay Oregon reforms (2000)
We are fighting to make New York the next unrestricted birth certificate access / “clean” reform state:
From 2003 – 2015, the NY Bill of Adoptee Rights would have allowed adult adoptees (18+) the right to a copy of their original birth certificate to help them search and confirm health history (similar to the other nine unrestricted birth certificates access states). Birth parents would have been able to complete non-binding “contact preference” forms at any time to designate openness to contact from adoptees.
Sadly, in June 2015, the NY Bill of Adoptee Rights was weakened by some of the 22 member Assembly Codes Committee. The amendments replace unrestricted birth certificate access / "clean" reform with a process that would begin with a court petition, followed by a bureaucratic and costly four month state-run intermediary birth parent search procedure. It then leaves tremendous power in the hands of judges who will apparently retain the unfair option (“discretion”) to withhold birth certificate information (actually redact an adoptee's own original birth certificate); even in cases where a birth parent cannot be found, or may desire contact and/or to at least share their name with the adoptee! These are the same NY judges who have denied adoptees’ health history petitions for years and who remain PUBLICLY OPPOSED to any adoption reform upon grounds that have been repeatedly “debunked” here and in other states!
That proposal's costly and slow bureaucracy ignores the task of honoring the human and civil rights of NY adoptees. Rights cannot be compromised.
Happily, on March 10, 2017, Senator Tony Avella introduced a new “clean” NY Bill of Adoptee Rights! The new bill offers:
- Unrestricted access to long form original birth certificates (OBC) for adult adoptees, just like all citizens and adults who “age-out” of foster care!
- OBC access for family, or legal representatives, if the adoptee is deceased
- OBC access for legal representatives / social services
Adoptees in New York deserve to get adoption reform right the first time!
We believe your voice can help encourage NY lawmakers to ADVANCE the “clean” legislation now.
PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION: ADVANCE THE “CLEAN” NY BILL OF ADOPTEE RIGHTS!
This petition will ask the New York Assembly and New York Senate to advance the “CLEAN” NY Bill of Adoptee Rights proposal (begun March 10, 2017), and reject the amended proposal (begun in June 2015).
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THIS PETITION WITH OTHERS!
- New York State Assembly
- New York State Senate
Advance "CLEAN" NY Bill of Adoptee Rights!
I join others (NY adoptees and other supporters of adoption reform) in saying that I feel very strongly that New York will benefit from a “clean,” New York Law of Adoptee Rights. Benefits of “clean” legislation include:
1. Protection of health: Direct access to original birth certificates will provide quicker opportunity to confirm medical information, facilitate proper treatment and, in some cases, save lives. This human rights imperative alone would justify immediate action to restore the “clean” version of the bill. And it would be consistent with current national initiatives to extend healthcare to all. Anything less is tantamount to treating adoptees as though they have a pre-existing condition (being adopted) that would prevent them gaining fair opportunity for appropriate healthcare. This would be an issue even if adult adoptees or minor adoptees, with help of adoptive parents, gain an option to request medical history at any time.
2. Saved money: Open access to original birth certificates with a contact preference is virtually free of charge to the state. However, the employment of a bureaucratic, multi-department system that employs hostile judges and an ill-prepared Department of Health will slow court business and require needless waste of capital that could be better spent on other initiatives to assist the adoption system in New York, such as applying remedies to the gross inadequacies in adoptions out of foster care.
3. Progressiveness that is legally sound, achievable and effective: New York, which considers itself a progressive state in general, has an opportunity to make a progressive statement on adoption reform, similar to Oregon and the other open access states including Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Research has shown that open access provides orderly, beneficial results for all parts of the adoption triad (adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents), and even suggests helpful results in communities with abortion concerns.
• Court of appeal upheld Oregon ballot initiative:
• Oregon statistics demonstrate vast majority of birthparents are open to contact:
• Potential to raise adoption rate and lower abortion rate in any state with open access:
4. Saved time: New York’s resolution to proceed with open access, similar to states like Oregon, will help ensure that we, the adoptees of New York, will be presented with a beneficial remedy to 1930s health laws that have failed our adopted citizens. Fragmentation of our rights will require that we continue to fight in Albany for the changes we have awaited for over two decades, since reform was introduced to the legislature. We will not give up until Albany does what is necessary to fully honor our legal, civil and human rights in a complete and proper way.
It is a hardship of unacceptable proportions to expect New York adoptees to tolerate compromises in alternative proposals simply based on the premise that it may be a “first step.” Nor would it be fair to presume that we, adoptees of New York, are inherently insensitive to the worthy aims of compromise in cases where intent of proposed legislation can be preserved. Also, we wish to remind the New York legislature that it is the adopted child—who becomes an adult—that was supposed to be the primary beneficiary of adoption, not either set of parents.
Thank you for your consideration.
Tim Monti-Wohlpart started this petition with a single signature, and now has 2,556 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.