New York Adoptees Continue Fight to Open OBCs

Adoptees have a right to access their own legal documentation and family medical histories.

Ashley Foster February 14, 2018
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Adoptees all across the country fighting legislatures to have their original birth certificates (OBC) opened. The battle is especially ferocious in New York.

In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have allowed adoptees access to their OBCs while securing the identity of their biological parents. His decision came after much backlash from the adoptee community. Adoptees are after unfettered access to their records and found the bill unacceptable. Cuomo claims the Department of Health will study the matter further.

Aside from the basic right to access their own legal documentation that all individuals should have, adoptees are missing important medical history. Early detection is invaluable to the treatment of most illnesses. People may be dying too soon due to a simple lack of information.

Nine states in the country currently give adoptees access to their OBC. Bills are on the table to add Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York to that list. Adoptees aren’t the only ones taking issue with upcoming laws. If a bill is acceptable to adoptee organizations, then many birth parents are upset that their identities would be available.

One new bill proposes that the state allow adoptees over 21 to petition the court in the county the adoption took place in to determine if they have biological siblings. If a sibling is found, the court would inform them by mail of the adopted sibling’s request for contact.

But most adoptees are pushing for S5169-A/S6821-A, a bill sponsored by Senator Tony Avella that would allow adoptees in the state unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. There is a petition circulating to promote advancement of the “CLEAN” NY Bill of Adoptee Rights proposal. Gov. Cuomo has stated that he “would support legislative proposals that allow adoptees greater access to birth records.” He heard the adoptee community when it said the last bill was too restrictive. Now it’s time to show him we support this one.

You can sign the petition here.

No one knows at this point which laws will push through, but one thing is clear, the adoptee community is not giving up.

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Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at

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