My Letter to the New York Assembly: Vote No on A2901c

New York State sealI write today to ask that you oppose A2901c, This bill, in its current amended form, is marketed as a bill to release upon request the original birth certificates (OBC) of adoptees to which they pertain. The bill stopped doing that a longtime ago.

The original A2901 was a clean access bill that restored the right of OBC access—taken from us over 70 years ago– to all New York adopted adults without condition or restriction. Unfortunately, that good bill has been severely amended and twisted into the exact opposite of the original intent.

The bill mandates with my comments:

  • Redacted birth certificates. The government sanctioned-mutilation that blacks out certain information, on a specific class of birth certificate based on adoption status that no other birth or any other status demands.
  • Court ordered release of the OBC at broad judicial discretion.  Judicial scrutiny forcing adoptees to undergo judicial determination of “worthiness” that the not-adopted do not have to “prove”. to receive their birth certificates.
  • Confidential intermediary search and consent system.  Navigates adoptees into a state-approved “reunion” whether they want it or not. It forces adoptees to undergo third-party request state intervention, predicated on the false belief that OBC access = search/ reunion that dismisses the real issues of due process, equal protection, and equal access to birth documents. It continues the segregated adoptee class system rather than restore adoptee equality in New York.
  • Biological and adoptive parent permission  Access to the OBC is predicated on the permission of third parties; a “right” that no parent or other third party possesses. Under this bill, the comfort zone of birthparents whose rights were terminated decades earlier and adoptive parents uneasy with access trump the civil rights of adult adoptees.

At a time when states are moving to open original birth certificates without restriction and other adoption documentation to their adult adoptee population, New York seeks to tighten its already Draconian access laws under the banner of “birthparent anonymity” and “adoption secrecy.”

Courts have ruled that birth is a public and private event; therefore no birthparent right to anonymity from their own offspring exists.  For decades birthparents have testified that anonymity was forced on them by law.  Legal and academic research backs this. Not one single document, in over 40 years of legislative activity has been presented to any legislature or court promising birthparent “anonymity.”  Birthparent identification is available through legal advertisements and documents given to adoptive parents at the time of adoption finalization. Most crucially, the OBC is sealed at the time of adoption finalization, not at the time of relinquishment.  If a child is never adopted the document remains unsealed. If the adoption is overturned or disrupted the OBC is unsealed.  Inexpensive DNA tests and social media have made adoption secrecy a thing of the past.  Today, the vast majority of adoption searches initiated by either adoptees or birthparents are done through DNA tests and social media. Neither the state nor the OBC is or can be a secret keeper.

A2901c is an affront and insult to New York adoptees and their families both birth and adoptive. The bill not only maintains, but tightens over-arching state authority over the personal documents and relations of individuals   It degrades adoption defining it as a secret and shameful procedure and treats adoptees as dangerous eternal children incapable of owning their own personal information. I can think of no other example of over-arching state authority over the personal documents and relationships of individuals as exemplified by S2901c.

Please do not support A2901c.  Vote NO!

Thank you.

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