Position Statement – 2013
A.747 / A.909 / S.2490-A / A.875
Birth Certificate Confidentiality
This bill would permit an adult adoptee to obtain the adoptee’s original long form birth certificate while permitting a birth parent to request confidentiality. The bill would require that birth parents are made aware of the need to request confidentiality.
WBASNY opposes this legislation. First, the adoption information registry already permits birth parents to disclose information should they choose to do so. Recent amendments requiring that birth parents receive information about the registry and have an opportunity to register at the time of giving a consent or surrender, have increased the reliability of the registry making it more successful.
WBASNY further opposes this legislation because it risks the inadvertent disclosure of a birth parent’s identity. Under the bill, an adult adoptee can secure a certified copy of his or her long form birth certificate if the birth parent does not complete a confirmation form conveying an intention to maintain confidentiality before January 1, 2014. While the bill contemplates a public awareness campaign to alert birth parents of their need to essentially re-confirm their confidentiality, the risk of inadvertent disclosure and potential for resulting harm is great.
Although most adoptions today have some measure of openness, those which do not, arise out of protecting the safety and identity of the birth parent. While much of the stigma surrounding out of wedlock births has dissipated, there are still many who would be greatly harmed if an out-of-wedlock pregnancy were disclosed some 18 years after the fact.
The final prong of the legislation, the medical history form, is linked to the disclosure of the long form birth certificate. Insofar as WBASNY opposes disclosure of the birth certificate, WBASNY also opposes the use of a medical history form. Indeed, the adoption information registry also allows for the disclosure of medical information and, as such, there is no need for the medical history form.
Assembly A.909 / S.2490-A
WBASNY opposes this bill for similar reasons stated above. This bill substantially increases the risk of public disclosure of a birth parent’s identity despite the birth parent’s wishes because it does not allow the birth parent to maintain confidentiality. Instead, the birth parent’s identity is disclosed and the birth parent is permitted to complete a form indicating whether or not he or she wishes to be contacted. This procedure does not provide an adequate method of ensuring that the adoptee honors the birth parent’s expressed wishes.
WBASNY opposes this bill, which permits the release of the long form birth certificate to the adult adoptee only if the adoptee and one of the birth parents register on the adoption information registry and consents to the disclosure. This bill risks disclosure of identifying information about a birth parent who has not consented because the consent of only one birth parent is only required in order to disclose information relating to both parents.