New York Adoptees Rush to Request Birth Certificates, After Years of Blocked Access

Michael Fitzgerald

Originally published in The Chronicle of Social Change

New York City and state were inundated by requests from adoptees seeking their original birth certificates this week, as a new law went into effect granting unrestricted access for the first time in more than 80 years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the reform last November, culminating a decades-long campaign by adoptees to overturn a Depression-era state law. In a release Friday afternoon, his office announced that more than 3,600 adoptees outside of New York City had filed applications since Wednesday for the pre-adoption certificates.

"Adoptees have every right to the same birth records as everyone else, and the new law we enacted is making that a reality for the first time,” said a statement from Cuomo. “The significant interest we’ve seen in just the first 48 hours of the new law being in effect underscores how valuable this policy change is for New Yorkers, and I’m proud we were able to help correct this inequity.”    

Legislators hailed the rule change at an event in the Albany state capitol building on Wednesday.

“This measure grants adult adoptees what I consider a basic human and civil right, the right of adopted individuals to get their original birth certificates and medical history and identity,” said Assemblyman David Weprin (D), who was the measure’s champion for the last decade, along with retiring State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D) of Brooklyn.

“I just want to say thank you to the advocates who have over those years and years of hopeful and pressuring and pushing and joining us and working together to make this happen,” said Montgomery, speaking with Weprin and advocates. “It is a tribute to them that they maintained the level of hopefulness and determination to make sure we did this.”

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