Enact “CLEAN” New York Law of Adoptee Rights
Enact “CLEAN” New York Law of Adoptee Rights
July 4, 2020—Victory declaration:
Let it be known—This adoptee human and civil rights petition was launched on April 5th, 2016. The appeal included a three-stage strategy to “Restore,” then “Advance” then “Enact” a “clean” adoptee rights bill that would restore unrestricted access to original birth certificates for all New York adult adopted persons.
Numerous updates were published and furnished to the growing number of signatories, as well as allied advocates, interested parties, the media and the public.
Fourteen petition deliveries were made to Albany officials. Recipients included Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, The New York State Department of Health and various members of the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate.
Petition deliveries to Governor Cuomo, to support our various discussions and correspondence with his senior staff, are documented within two parts of the New York State Library public record: (1) the A5036-B “Veto Jacket”—part of our supported, successful appeal for veto in 2017 and (2) the S3419 “Bill Jacket”—part of our supported, successful appeal for approval in 2019.
The first petition delivery took place from April 28th – April 29th 2016. The last delivery, to Governor Cuomo, took place on July 4th, 2019. The appeal was to sign S3419 into law to (a) restore unrestricted access to original birth certificates for all New York adult adopted persons, (b) establish access for direct line descendants of deceased New York adopted persons and (c) establish access for legal representatives of the two aforementioned groups.
On November 14th, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed S3419 into law, the same day it was delivered to him by the New York State Senate.
On January 15th, 2020, S3419 went into effect as Public Health Law § 4138-E. Victory for this petition was announced.
Official victory, on change.org, was declared on July 4th, 2020, one year following the final petition delivery to Governor Cuomo.
We deeply thank all 10,000+ supporters of this historic appeal. Our efforts to advance adoptee human and civil rights continue. Petition news updates can and will continue to apprise of, for example, birth certificate application procedure, updated Department of Health statistics and ongoing advocacy efforts.
Adoptee rights = human rights = civil rights.
FINAL VERSION OF PETITION BELOW
New York residents, natives and all friends to adoption reform:
HELP NY ADOPTEES REGAIN 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 having equal opportunity to choose to seek other background information such as 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 initiatives to extend healthcare to all. New York adoptees are being left behind.
Adoptees who appeal to NY courts with medical, or other, concerns are routinely denied.
This is a blatant violation of basic human and civil rights.
For over 20 years, NY lawmakers have been considering legislation for adoption reform.
Because of the help of all who support this petition, the law may be changed in New York soon! Read on!
As of 2016, and now in 2019, 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 blocked adult adoptees from original birth certificate access.
In Oregon, judicial precedent was set by upholding unrestricted birth certificate access / “clean” reform:
o Oregon citizens approved a ballot measure for unrestricted birth certificate access / “clean” reform (1998)
o Oregon state courts upheld the ballot measure (1999)
o 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 know their origins and have equal opportunity to seek other information (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. The amendments replaced unrestricted birth certificate access / "clean" reform with a process that would have begun with a court petition, followed by a bureaucratic and costly four month state-run intermediary birth parent search procedure. It then would have left tremendous power in the hands of judges who apparently would have retained 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 couldn’t have been found, or might have desired contact and/or to at least share their name with the adoptee! They 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 ignored the task of honoring the human and civil rights of NY adoptees. Rights cannot be compromised.
Happily, on December 29, 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo heard our voices and vetoed that amended, regressive bill! He has indicated that he would “…support legislative proposals that allow adoptees greater access to birth records.” A Department of Health workgroup report was issued on April 30, 2018.
While the 2017 - 2018 session ended without passage of “clean” reform, we returned in 2019 with A5494 / S3419.
On 6/3/19, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the NY Senate.
On 6/20/19, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the NY Assembly.
With Governor Cuomo's approval, he can make NY the 10th U.S. State with a policy of unrestricted access to original birth certificates for all adult adoptees (and the 8th to enact such a law via “clean” adoption reform!). The act would take effect on January 15, 2020.
A5494 / S3419 FEATURES INCLUDE:
o Restoration of unrestricted access to original birth certificates (OBC) for all New York adult adoptees!
o Support for the general health and well-being of adoptees!
o OBC access for direct line descendants, or legal representatives, if the adoptee is deceased
o OBC access for legal representatives of adoptees
o Clarifying term “commissioner” to ensure all adult adoptees will be able to complete an OBC request
Adoptees in New York deserve to get adoption reform right the first time!
We believe your voice can help encourage the enactment of a "clean" law of adoptee rights.
PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION: ENACT “CLEAN” NY LAW OF ADOPTEE RIGHTS!
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THIS PETITION WITH OTHERS!