UPDATE: New York! New York!
by Gaye Sherman Tannenbaum UPDATED 11/19 and 2/20
We've been waiting nearly five months for Governor Cuomo to sign S3419 into law and today it finally happened!
Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Allowing Adoptees to Receive a Certified Birth Certificate at Age 18 As noted in our original post, the effective date of the new law is January 15, 2020, so the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene don't have a lot of time to put together the procedures and forms that adoptees will need to follow. Almost certainly, adoptees will need the following: - Government issued photo ID.
- Notarized application on a form to be provided by the State and City, respectively.
It is entirely possible that they will require a copy of the adoptee's amended birth certificate, so you may want to order it while we're waiting for January.
New York City may require "proof of address". If it's already on your photo ID, you're good.
For those who will be requesting the original birth certificate for a deceased ancestor, you will absolutely need proof of death in the form of a death certificate. New York City generally accepts a photocopy IF the adoptee died in New York City (for birth certificates of relatives), otherwise you will need a certified death certificate from the registrar where the adoptee died. Something else you may want to order now if you don't already have a copy.
We'll be posting the details as soon as we know more.
New York adoptees have waited over eighty years - what's a few more months?
After decades of glacially slow but steady progress, New York is now one step away from joining the nine other states that have restored unrestricted access for adult adoptees to their own original birth certificates. As a New York born adoptee, I could not be more excited!
On June 3, 2019, New York's Senate overwhelmingly passed S3419 (Montgomery). The measure "establishes the right of adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate upon reaching the age of 18." On June 20, New York's Assembly substituted S3419 for its own companion bill A5494 (Weprin) and passed it 140 to 6.
Now we are waiting for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill into law, something that long-time lead sponsor Assm. David Weprin tells us the governor is planning to do.
Two years ago, advocates for restoring access in New York were horrified when a well-supported bill that would have restored unrestricted access turned from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde overnight. A simple application to the Department of Health became a set of Byzantine search and consent procedures with no funding appropriated to train DOH employees in how to search for birthparents using decades old information. Advocates then launched an extensive campaign to persuade Gov. Cuomo to veto the bill, which he ultimately did on December 30, 2017.
Despite infighting among no less than THREE different groups all advocating for restored access, David Weprin's bill won out, even changing the stance of long-time opponent and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol, who apologized for blocking this legislation for decades. You can view the inspiring Assembly floor debate here.
If signed by Gov. Cuomo, the law becomes effective January 15, 2020. For the first time in 80 years, New York adult adoptees will have access to their OBCs without a court order. The new law will include a number of provisions rarely seen even among states that have restored unrestricted access:
1. Eligible applicants will receive a CERTIFIED copy of the original birth certificate (aka long form or vault copy).
2. Persons eligible to request the OBC include the adoptee at age 18, lineal descendants of a deceased adoptee, and their respective legal representatives.
3. If the adoptee was born outside New York but adopted within New York, they are also entitled to "the information that would have appeared on an original birth certificate" if such out-of-state birth certificate is not available.
We wish to thank Assm. David Weprin and Sen. Velmanette Montgomery for their hard work over many years, and for listening to adoptees who told them EXACTLY what we wanted and what we would not support. Congratulations to all the advocate groups who came together in a joint effort to secure dozens of co-sponsors and overwhelming support for the bill. Special recognition goes to long-time advocates like adoptees Annette O'Connell and Tim Monti-Wohlpart (among many others too numerous to list here), along with first moms Lorraine Dusky, Joyce Bahr, and Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, for their dedicated work to get the bill across the finish line.