Position Statement – 2016
A.2901-B / S.55964-A / S.3314 / A.3369
Adoption Registry / Adoptee Rights
A.2901-B I S.5964-A
These proposed bills would allow an adult adoptee to apply to the Court in which the order of adoption was made to request the release of a non-certified long form birth certificate. Upon application, the Court shall provide identifying information of the adopted person’s birth parents and would direct the department of health to make a good faith effort to: 1. Notify the birth parent/parents; and 2. Advise the birth parent/parents that the adult adoptee has made an application in Court. Should the birth parent/parents choose continued confidentiality, the Court would release a redacted long form birth certificate.
If the birth parent/parents are unable to be notified or do not respond to notification, the Court, in its discretion for good cause shown, shall direct the release of an un-redacted, non-certified copy of the long form birth certificate to the adult adoptee or if the birth certificate is unavailable, release the identifying information that would have appeared on the original long-form birth certificate. WBASNY opposes this in its entirety.
WBASNY opposes this legislation because if both birth parents are identifiable and one gives permission to disclose and the other does not, the non-certified birth certificate will be provided to the adoptee with the redacted name of the birth parent who does not give permission. There are numerous procedures stated in these bills where inadvertent mistakes can be made which will ultimately lead to identification of a birth parent who does not want to be identified as well as have their confidential information released.
WBASNY also opposes this legislation because the adoption information registry already permits birth parents to disclose information should they choose to do so. Recent amendments requiring 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.
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.
WBASNY opposes this proposed bill for most of the same reasons as stated above. This bill would allow an adult adopted person to obtain a non-certified copy of his/her original (long form) birth certificate, upon application, presentation of proof of identification and the payment of a nominal fee. 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 proposed 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 proposed bill only requires the consent of one birth parent in order to disclose information relating to both parents.