Cuomo signs bill allowing adoptees their birth records

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Thursday that allows adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates with the names of their birth parents, a cause that advocates had pursued in Albany for more than 25 years and that a pair of Orange and Ulster residents had championed.

Both were given seats of honor on the Senate floor in June when a climactic vote was taken to pass the bill. One was Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, a Kingston resident and director of outreach and advocacy for the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition in New Paltz. She had been fighting for the legislation since 2006, moved by her experience as a birth mother who had put her son up for adoption in 1987.

Also on hand for the Senate approval was Annette O’Connell of Woodbury, spokewoman for the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition. She was an adoptee herself, and had been advocating for the legislation for five years.

The bill, bottled up in Albany since 1993, sailed through the Senate and Assembly with little opposition. “Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records – it’s a basic human right,” Cuomo said on Thursday after signing the bill. “For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all.”

New York had held a veil of confidentiality over adoptions since the 1930s, allowing adoptees their original birth certificates only in rare instances when a judge consented. Adoptees and their advocates had argued that access to birth records was a basic right that only adoptees had been denied, casting the legislation they sought as a civil rights issue. They were jubilant when it passed.

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