ALBANY — The sponsor of a bill of rights for adoptees that’s been years in the making said he’s entering the final day of the legislative session on Thursday optimistic the measure will finally pass.
“We have a compromise bill,” said Assemb. David Weprin (D-Queens). “To me, it’s been a five-year crusade. I look at it as a human rights issue.”
The measure would provide new hope to thousands of New Yorkers who are adopted and to the birth parents who may be desperately seeking to contact them.
Weprin seeks to clarify the murky laws and regulations surrounding adoption in New York. It’s not a marquee political fight, but its passage would impact thousands of New Yorkers and end a state legislative effort underway since the early 1990s by adoptees.
The measure would allow adoptees access to their birth records which include important medical, ethnic and religious information. Currently, a person who is adopted would have to seek the record through the courts for even a chance of securing his or her birth certificate. The measure would give an adoptee access to a noncertified birth certificate and any medical history form.
New Yorkers not involved in an adoption can easily access those records through their local government or through the state.
The genetic information in the documents can be critical in preventing and treating diseases and syndromes.
Weprin’s bill being negotiated among legislative leaders would also allow a birth parent’s identity to remain a secret from the child they provided for adoption even if the birth certificate is released. But under the bill, a birth parent could seek to contact their child directly or through an intermediary under a “contact preference” process.
The bill was amended Monday. That shows negotiations with the Senate were still underway to seek agreement on the same bill by the end of the scheduled session on Thursday.
Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
Lanza didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.