A New York Assemblyman is Leading an Effort to Overturn the State’s Strict Adoption Record Confidentiality Laws

It is not uncommon for adopted individuals to eventually want to get access to their own original birth records.

Among other things, these birth records generally include the name(s) of the biological parents. How easy or difficult it will be for an adoptee to access their own birth records depends largely upon which state they were born in. New York has some of the strictest adoption record confidentiality laws in the entire country. Indeed, it is extraordinarily challenging for adoptees to get access to their own birth records.
 
“Under New York state law; adoptees have almost no rights to get access to their own birth records. Adoption records laws actually vary widely around the country. For example, in some nearby states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island, there is essentially unrestricted access to original birth records. In other states, such as New Jersey, there are hoops that people must jump through. However, the records are often obtained. New York stands out as having particularly strict confidentiality laws.”
 

A New York Assemblyman is now trying to take action to alter the 84-year-old law that created the current system.

According to reporting from CBS New York, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) is pushing significant open records reforms in the state legislature. The CBS report cites the story of a New Jersey man who was originally adopted by a family in Upstate New York. He is one of many people trying to get access to his own records, but, under the current legal rules, it appears that he will be unable to do so.
 

While it remains unknown if this legislative push will ever make it into law, there has already been considerable progress.

The adoption records reform bill drafted by Assemblyman Weprin already has more than 85 cosponsors. Advocates are pushing for action on this legislation by the end of the year. The people in favor of reforming New York’s adoption records laws argue that adoptees should have a legal right to their own information. They contend that this is a health issue — New York law may prevent an adoptee from accessing important medical history records. On the other hand, opponents of the proposed reforms argue that privacy concerns should come first.

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