UPDATE: NY Adoptee Rights

We have a clean bill in New York--first/birth parents are offered a contact preference--but NO VETO. The National Council for Adoption appears to be our only organizational opponent. (For details, see below.) To keep abreast of what is going on, and to be involved, contact Joyce Bahr at unsealedinitiative She has been the backbone of the effort in New York. Right now we are contacting legislators by email and Facebook messages. The more the sooner adoptee rights will pass. Don't let history pass you by without being involved!

We have reason to believe that Gov. Cuomo is in favor of this legislation, but he has not yet indicated that he will do anything to encourage its passage. He needs letters, letters, letters, to hear from both FIRST PARENTS AND ADOPTEES. 

That impregnable mighty fortress that is Albany's capital
He is probably hoping to make a White House run eventually, and he needs to see that supporting this legislation has broad national support, and would put adoptees and first mothers in his camp, across party lines. The New York bills have lots of support in both houses, the Assembly and the Senate, but we have trouble getting them out of committee. That is where you come in, especially if you were adopted in New York, where your original birth certificate is sealed!

Your letter doesn't have to be long. If you are an adoptee, just say who you are and what having your original, unamended birth certificate would mean to you; if you are a first mother, state your support of this legislation and why. A very brief summary of your story, and hopes, in your own words is best. Write to: 

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Please include your mailing address as responses may be sent by U.S. mail, and do not forget to include the bill numbers. If you are still a resident of New York state, send a copy to your assemblyman and state senator, call their offices, leave a comment on their Facebook page asking for their support. If you don't know who your legislators are, click on the links below. The sites operate differently, but will give the names and contact information of your senator and assemblyperson.

New York State Interactive Map
Assembly Members

AND YES, WE NEED YOU. YOUR LETTER MIGHT BE THE ONE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. Adoptees deserve their right to know who they were at birth, who their ancestors are. It is a human right that no state should ever have taken away. For more rationale, see these FMF posts: 

Dear President Obama: Please Consider the rights of the adopted
Broken Bonds: The undeniable connection between slavery and adoption


List of of supporting organizations at end. 

The BILLS  
S2490A and A909 Summary:
Enacts Bill of Adoptee Rights clarifying language and procedures for obtaining birth certificates and medical histories of adoptees; allows adopted adults to learn who their birth parents are when they reach the age of 18, subject to a contact preference filed by the birth parents.

SENATE:
SPONSOR Lanza
Co Sponsors
SENATE:
SPONSOR Lanza
Co Sponsors Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Dilan, Flanagan, Golden, Krueger, Larkin, Latimer, Montgomery, Peralta, Sampson



Also there are 16 supporters

ASSEMBLY:
SPONSOR Weprin
COSPNSR Arroyo, Barron, Butler, Dinowitz, Engelbright, Gabryszak, Gottfried, Graf, Hevesi, Lopez P., Maisel, Miller M., Moya, Peoples, Pretlow, Ramos, Roberts, Rosental, Ryan, Schroeder, Stevenson, Titone, Wright, Zebrowski

MLTSPNSR Bing, Brook-Krasny, Camara, Castelli, Cook, DiPietro, Duprey, Fahy, Farrell, Galef, Giglio, Gunther, Hooper, Jordan, Katz, Kellner, Lifton, Lopez, Lupardo, Magee, Magnarelli, Mckevitt, Millman, Montesano, Palmesano, Paulin, Perry, Ra, Raia, Rivera J., Robinson, Sayward, Scarborough, Schimel, Spano, Thiele, Weisenberg

Also there are 28 supporters 


BILL SUMMARY
Bill S2490A and A909 - The Bill of Adoptee Rights amends
the Health Law by adding a new section, 4138-e
Allows all adoptees when they reach the age of eighteen the ability to receive a copy of their original birth certificate provided they have proper identification and pay a nominal fee, and to receive an updated medical history form submitted to the health department by the birth parent.

The medical history form shall be prescribed by the Health Department.
A birth parent may at any time request a contact preference form that shall accompany a birth certificate issued under this title. The contact preference form shall provide the following information to be completed at the option of the birth parent.
(A) I would like to be contacted
(B) I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary
(C) I have completed a medical history form and have filed it with the department
(D) Please do not contact me. If I decide later that I would like to be contacted, I will submit an updated contact preference form with the department.
I have completed an updated medical history form and have filed it with the health
department.

The health department shall provide updated health information from the birth paren to the adoptive parents of a minor and directly to the adopted person who has reached the age of eighteen.

When it shall be impossible through good-faith efforts to provide a copy of the birth certificate (as in the case of an adopted person born outside of, but adopted within the state of New York), the adopted person shall have the right to secure from a court of competent jurisdiction or the adoption agency true and correct identifying information.This bill will become law one year after the governor signs it. Within two years of the effective date the governor shall appoint a voluntary citizens task force to review, assess and report on the progress and administration of initiatives established with the new law.


New York Statewide Adoption Reform statement:
Capital (back)Supporting and notable issues for the "Bill of Adoptee Rights", a piece of legislation that seeks to do more than just gain adoptees' rights -- it is legislation that cares for everyone involved.
1. This legislation fully encourages the New York State Assembly and Senate Members to acknowledge and support within a law, the lifelong health and well-being of adults who have been or will be adopted in this state. It also has them by law recognize that the denial of access to accurate and complete medical and self-identifying data of any citizen, is a violation of that citizen's civil rights.
2. This legislation clearly states that adoptees be given equal considerations permitted by law to all non-adopted citizens. But it does so while providing for the need of privacy for that adopted citizen and his/her birth and adoptive families.
3. All adoptees (whether adopted in or outside of NYS) shall at the age of 18 be granted the right -- To have access to and attain his/her Original (long form, line by line vault copy) Birth Certificate. All adoptees will have the right to obtain from a court of competent jurisdiction or the adoption agency the true and correct identifying information that would have appeared on his/her original Birth Certificate, with a "hold harmless clause" for releasing such information from any liability arising out of the disclosure.
4. This legislation insures that all updated information shall also be released to all parties involved. Adoptees, under this legislation, are guaranteed their right to updated and current birth family medical histories.
5. The contact preference protects the civil rights of all birth parents and adoptees that do not want contact. This preference can be rescinded at any time by the filing party.
6. Regardless of the Contact Preference it will not diminish the right of the Adopted Person to receive updated health information and their Birth Certificate.
7. This legislation also assures within two years of passage that the Governor form a citizen's task force to review, assess and report on the progress and administration of this legislation. It states the individuals that shall be a part of this task force (equal numbers of adopted persons, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professionals). It allows these individuals to have full access to files from Children & Family Services, Surrogate courts to enable complete and accurate reporting without comprise. It also within this law states that this task force within one year will submit a written report to the legislature and the public on:
  • The number of Birth Certificates requested by adopted persons.
  • The number of original uncertified Birth Certificates provided to adopted persons.
  • The number of contact preferences filled by birth parent(s).
  • The number of contact preferences rescinded by same parent or parents.
8. This legislation also assures that additional information and data will be collected and accepted from birth relatives and updated continuously. It further states that this data will be provided within 90 days to either the adoptive parents of a minor or directly to the adult adopted person.
9. This legislation also presents the importance and use of a Law Guardian or Guardian Ad Litem to honestly protect the rights of the child.
10. This legislation also presents the importance within its wording, behind all adopted persons having the right to grow up into adulthood, leaving the stigma of forever being a child behind in the laws of this state.




Organizations in Support of Bills A8910/S1438 (Now S7286)


· Child Welfare League of America with 75 member agencies in New York. The oldest child welfare organization in the U.S.

The New York State Citizens Coalition for Children organization advocating for change and support for adoptive and foster homes.
·        
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany providing adoption services since 1921.
·       
Episcopal Diocese of Albany resolution at the 141st Annual Convention, June 2009.
·        
Spence Chapin Adoption Services New York City providing adoption services since 1908.
·        
Adoption Star open adoption Agency, Buffalo providing support, advocacy, and resources for open adoptions.
·        
OpenAdoption.org advocating for nonprofit agency adoption placements and ethical standards in open adoptions.
·       
The American Adoption Congress an organization working for honesty and equality in adoption law and practice since 1983.
·        
Ethica an organization concerned with the integrity of adoption placements.
·       
The North American Council on Adoptable Children supporting adoptive and foster homes since 1974.
·The Adoption Action Network, adoption professionals throughout the state advocating for post adoption services and adult adoptee access.
·Adoption Under One Roof an online organization and blog serving as a voice for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.
·Adoption Crossroads a support organization for all members of the adoption triad.
Manhattan Birth Parents Support providing support and education for parents who relinquished to adoption.
·        
Origins USA providing support and education for parents who relinquished to adoption.
·        
The New York Adoption List online group providing support for members of the adoption triad.
·        
Day of Adoptee Rights national protest and reform organization.
·        
Adoptee C.A.R.E. National Council for Adoption Reform Education founded by an adoptee, Maine Senator Paula Benoit
·       
The Adoptive Parents Committee of New York providing support for adoptive parents in the adoption process.
·        
Yahoo Adoptee Support on line group for all members of the adoption triad.
·        
Council for Families and Child Caring Agencies, advocacy and education in adoption and foster care.
·        
Center for Family Connections, advocacy for adoption and foster care
·        
New York Foundling Hospital,  Serving New York City  in Foster care and Adoption since 1869
·        
Friends of Adoption, A Queens, NY  Open adoption agency advocating for the adoptees right to know