Bill to open access to adoptee records

Advocates are trying to get a bill written that would give New York adoptees access to their original birth certificates. The bill would also include provisions for:

  • allowing biological parents to file update medical information in case the adopted child seeks it
  • allowing biological parents to choose whether they want to be contacted or not, and if so, directly or through an intermediary agency

Other proposals include allowing biological parents to (like Illinois’ new law) redact their name or requiring a judge to final good cause before access is granted. Similar laws were recently enacted in New Jersey and Connecticut. Most advocates believe that New York’s mutual consent registry is inadequate and rarely productive.

There is a controversy over whether adoptive parents should expect lifelong anonymity. Some argue the closed records policy was to protect the child and the adoptive family, not the relinquishing biological parent. Many argue that the stigma and shame of years past is no longer a social issue that demands secrecy. Access to health information is a greater right in the balance between parent and child.

Bills have been proposed several times over the past two decades but none have been successful. With the growth of personalized medicine, access to medical record and genetic information can be increasingly important.