' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A whopping YES to the question: Should adoptees have their birth certificates?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A whopping YES to the question: Should adoptees have their birth certificates?

Ninety-five percent of the people who voted in the poll sponsored by New York NOW , a NPR affiliate from Albany, were in favor of adoptees having unrestricted access to their original birth certificates at age 18. The voting is closed.

Yes, we know this is not a scientific poll. But it is a no-brainer that adults--who have every other right and obligation of society--should unequivocally have the right to his or her original birth certificate, the official record of an individual. The amended "birth" certificate is a lie. It is not a record of a birth; it is a record of a legal adoption. Yet in all but eight states some restrictions prevent all adopted people from having the right to own this piece of paper--about themselves.

These archaic, punishing, laws violate the rights of a whole class of people yet they continue to stand in state after state, while governors like Chris Christie of New and Andrew Cuomo of New York do nothing. They are pathetic. Their blindness on this issue confounds me. New Jersey at least has a legislature that was able to pass a bill that would give adoptees their birth certificates. However Christie appears set to veto such a bill again any day now.

Gov. Cuomo doesn't have a bill to veto because the legislation in New York has been mired in the miasma that is the state legislature for decades. I first testified in favor of such a bill in 1976--37 years ago! Today, good bills sponsored by Assemb. David Weprin (D-Queens) and Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) appear to have the votes to pass, with numerous co-sponsors and supporters in both the Assembly and the Senate. 

Yet a few powerful legislators, such as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) as well as Assemb. Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn), Senate Majority Leader Dean Seklos (R-Rockville Center) and Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) have been able to keep the bills tied up in one committee or another and from coming to the floor for a vote. They think they are "protecting" first mothers. They are wrong. They are letting a teeny minority of mothers live with their shame cloaking them like a disease--while discriminating against all adopted individuals. And Gov. Cuomo does not have the will, or the backbone, to do anything. *

Will this survey get the glue out of Albany? Doubtful. But every step forward, every voice heard, every hue and cry against this flagrant violation of rights moves us forward. Somewhere there is an end in sight. May first mothers stop having to go to the grave without ever looking into the face of the child they bore but surrendered to adoption. May adoptees stop having to have a reunion with a grave. And may we all live long enough to see it.--lorraine

While Jane will have a further report from the AAC meeting in a day or two, below is a sampling of some comments left at the site. You could vote without leaving a comment and it appears most of the No voters did not comment.

Yes. I am an adoptee, a father, a husband for more than 40 years, and reunited with my birth mother since 1998.  My adoptive parents are deceased.  Even today I still cannot access my OBC, something a non-adopted person is allowed without restriction.  It is time for NY to join other states which have opened their records. -Brad C., Victor
No. There should be agreement on both sides for the information to be released. -Anonymous
Yes. They should not have to pay consequences for their parents' actions. -Anonymous     

Yes. I got my birth certificate with no problem because there are open records in my country of birth. Why should it be different for my NY born husband? -Maggie W., New York NY
Yes. The adopted baby had no rights years ago, no one to look out for them, if the need medical records , they can't get them, they have a right to know who they are where they came from, & there medical. -A. M., Great Neck
No. Think they should have to ask first. 18 year olds ate still growing emotionally. -Anonymous
Yes. We have a right to know. Everyone wants to know where they came from. -Anonymous
Yes. First of all, many states in the US and provinces in Canada have unsealed their records with no repercussions. My own husband had his unsealed in Alberta, Canada and although he and his birth mother have no contact, they did meet and were glad they met.  They just weren't interested in maintaining a relationship, and it was a mutual feeling.  I was adopted in NY, and out of the 7 people I know who were adopted only me and one other person have not been able to meet our birth parents. The other person is my sister who was also born in NY. I have no desire to interrupt someone's life, or to find a new family. I WOULD like to know medical information my doctors have asked for, and just simple things like where I get my eye color from etc. I also would like to know if I have children whether there are any concerns that need to be addressed. The medical information adoptees get is very limited. I guess my point is that I see a lot of problems with keeping records sealed, and very few with opening them. In Alberta, where my husband recently had his records opened, it is done in a reverse consent system.  If a birthparent did not want the new law to allow their records opened, they contacted the province and they were kept sealed. Less than 1% of people did this. -Sara K., Elmira
Yes. A person's right to know where they come from trumps anyone's desire to hide a secret. This is a conclusion reached by an adoptee who also adopted out her own infant. -Anonymous     
No. Although I think the adopted child has a right to know where they come from, the birth parents also have the right to privacy if they choose. -Anonymous 
Yes. Everyone should have the right to know who they are and where they came from; it is that simple. Adoptees should be able to find out their heritage, ethnicity and health information. they should not be treated as criminals and second-class citizens. -Cathy G., Binghamton
Yes. My daughter is adopted! -Barbara M., Delmar
Yes. I still don't understand why they wouldn't?? -Anonymous 
Yes. Adoptees should have the right to information about their heritage and birth like everyone else. Open the records at their request. Birthparents were NOT promised anonymity from their children, so don't use that as an excuse any more. -Anonymous
Yes. I can't come up with any justification for the government to deny people the right to their own birth information. -Joanmarie P., Oneonta

Yes. Everyone deserves to know their ancestry. People who profit (attorneys, adoptive parents) should NOT determine who has a right to know their natural family. Papers do not erase heritage, and anyone who has the least bit of interest in their ancestry should  acknowledge the right of everyone to know their family. I am a mom whose relinquished son found me 7 years ago.  It was heartbreaking to me to know that he yearned to know who I was (who HE was) and was denied that right.  Several progressive states provide statistics about how unsealed records do not cause havoc for mothers (which is a red herring anyway- no one truly puts mothers' rights above the adoptive parents or attorneys). The only people who should be deciding whether adoptees can have their records are adoptees- NOT attorneys or adoptive parents, or those who are influenced by them. -Barbara C., Albany
Yes. I placed a child for adoption in 1970 in New York State. He is an adult now and is entitled to his original birth certificate. I never agreed to have this information kept secret from him. -Ronnie M., Hicksville
* If you are live in a district represented by these people, please contact them and let your voice be heard. In New Jersey, contact NJCare at njcare.staff@gmail.com and visit their site: at NJCare. In New York, visit UNSEALED INITIATIVE  and contact unsealedinitiative@nyc.rr.com

and..Did you relinquish a child in New York? Were you born and adopted here? Did you adopt a child in New York? Do you live in the state? If Yes is the answer to any of these questions, email these people below and send them a copy of the current blog: A whopping YES to the question: Should adoptees have their birth certificates?

Unsolicited attachments will not be opened, so copy the whole blog and send it. It can be done in one email--takes only a minute or two--just copy and paste! This list below includes both the bills sponsors and supporters, as well as our enemies. And for good measure, add your own state senator and assemblymember, even if they already support adoptee rights. If we don't bug them, who is going to? FYI:Joseph Borelli is an adoptee and a strong advocate for our bill. See his short interview below.

Do adoptees have a right to their birth certificates? VOTE NOW.
Adoption court documents contain the raw realities of adoption
NCFA no longer opposes unsealing adoptee birth records--Yea!!

The First Part Last  
Young Adult novel about two middle-class black teenagers who find themselves with a baby...
and an ending most of FMF's readers will love. Haven't read it yet myself but the book won a Coretta Scott King Award as well as an American Library Association award for excellence in young adult literature.  CLICK ON TITLE OR BOOK JACKET TO PURCHASE AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!


  1. And now I am wondering about how that question would have been answered if "certificates" was followed by "reinstated".

  2. Great post, Lorraine. And just look at the results of the vote! I emailed the assembly members That have been holding up this bill for so long, like you said. But somehow I am not really filled with hope that anything will happen. I wish I felt more hopeful, but I honestly don't.

  3. JE, I know but think this way:

    Will this survey get the glue out of Albany? Doubtful. But every step forward, every voice heard, every hue and cry against this flagrant violation of rights moves us forward. Somewhere there is an end in sight.

  4. Went there and voted yes. If only we could convince legislators that this is not really a controversial issue except for a few special interest groups. Most people either support adoptee rights or do not care one way or the other.

    Theodore, saying "reinstated" about OBCs would make it even harder for us to get anywhere with legislation in the US. "Reinstated" would imply that the OBC was legal ID, and with all the craziness about ID after 9/11 that would just create more problems. Best we stick to adoptees having access to an uncertified copy of their OBC.

  5. Of course, reinstatement would imply adoption annulment, if the original version is valid ID, the legal fiction involved in adoption must have stopped to have been observed. ID as a citizen and all should be a lot easier, but proving you are identical to that adopted person, who for instance graduated, could be a lot harder.

    Theodore (not at home)

  6. As a journalist, I suppose what seems the most hypocritical about this situation is that we have a HIPA law (Health Information Privacy Act) which makes it illegal for unauthorized people to release medical information about someone without their permission.

    This would seem to indicate a respect for individuals to have control over their medical history.

    But at the same time, we have a law in New York that prohibits adoptees from getting access to their own medical history through birth certificates and the medical history of their birth parents.

    This in essence denies them the rights which the HIPA law enshrines for others, making them second-class citizens when it comes to what could literally be life-saving information.

    Surely this cannot stand.

  7. Ms or Mr PhD

    Please do provide the link to the study or studies that refer to.



COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We cannot edit or change the comment in any way. Entire comment published is in full as written. If you wish to change a comment afterward, you must rewrite the entire comment.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.