Repeal Sealed Adoption Record Laws in New York State
New York State Assembly & Senate
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As ADULT ADOPTEES, BIRTH PARENTS, and ADOPTIVE PARENTS, we have great interest in the passing of legislation that gives all persons of legal age an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to access their original birth certificates and other identifying information. Sealed adoption records, cut adoptees off from their heritage. Sealed adoption records prohibit adoptees and adoptive parents medical information that could result in saving the lives of many adoptees. Sealed adoption records, keep birth parents from informing their child (or childs adoptive parents) of genetically inherited medical problems and knowing if their child is alive and most importantly healthy and happy.
In Kansas, where ADULT ADOPTEES have had the right to their records for over 40 years, the Department of Social Services reports no problems, no complaints, no legal actions of any kind as a result of adoptees being given their original birth certificate at the age of 18.
It is our contention that Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents human, civil and constitutional rights are being violated by the sealed adoption record laws. Laws that forbid someone from knowing the details of their birth, an event that the adoptee participated in, is de-humanizing to say the least. Many experts have deemed from a psychological perspective, that the lack of information about one's heritage can cause severe pain to those who feel the need for this connection with one's roots. The psychological literature about an adoptee's need to know the facts of his or her life is clear. The writings of Annette Baran & Reuben Pannor, Erik Erikson, Marshall Schechter, Nancy Verrier and others, point out the developmental difficulties and later life problems faced by adopted people. The mental health facilities and prisons in this country are over populated with adoptees. It is not a crime to be given up for adoption, yet adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents face a life sentence of never knowing the most basic facts about their lives or the lives of their child.
ABSOLUTE ACCESS to accurate and correct, identifying information gives adopted individuals what they deserve. The right to search for and contact their original family. Laws that restrict an individual from knowing their heritage are a travesty. The law, to date, states that adopted people should not be allowed to know who they are because of confidentiality, yet most birth parents have stated that they were NOT guaranteed confidentiality. The United Nations/UNICEF World Conference on the Rights of the Child guarantees that every child in the world has the right to know and have contact with their family. A RIGHT!!!
Adoptees rights to know their biological family history and up-to-date medical information is not available to them without having adoption files legally opened in New York. Many New York adoptees have died after being denied by the courts, the information in their birth records that might have saved their lives. If sealed records were abolished, many lives could and would be saved. With the advances in technology and modern medicine, this knowledge is crucial to Adoptees (and their adoptive parents), the children born to them and their grandchildren as well as the children born generations later in life. Adoptees and their adoptive parents, need to know what to be aware of when it comes to genetically inherited illnesses in their family history. Birth parents should have access to the records as they become aware of illnesses and diseases that occur later in their lives, to inform the adoptee or the adoptive parents of such medical problems.
It is time for New York to join Alabama, Tennessee, Oregon, Kansas, Montana and Alaska by passing legislation giving adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents access to our medical histories and ancestry.
The Honorable Wade Weatherford, South Carolina District Judge said this when granting an adoptee access to his records.
"The Law must be consonant with life. It cannot and should not ignore broad historical currents. Mankind is possessed of no greater urge than to answer the age old questions of Who Am I? and Why Am I?. Even now the sands and ashes of the deserts are being sifted to find where we took our first steps as man. Ancient religions often used ancestor worship in one form or another. The thirst to know the past is neither whimsical nor unjust. It is real and is good cause under the law of Man and God"