New Yorkers adopted as children, pushing for rights to certified birth certificates

Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) Getting access to birth certificates has long been a battle for New Yorkers who were adopted as children.

Newly proposed legislation known as the Clean Bill is gaining support in Albany, according to Assembly Member David Weprin, who has taken lead on the bill.

To conitnue the bill down the state pipeline, supporters say the bill is expected to be voted on Tuesday in the Assembly Health Committee. 

Unsealing the birth certificate records is something supporters say would be life-changing.

Currently, adoptees may have what’s called an amended birth certificate.

If the proposed legislation is passed it would allow adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18. 

Furthermore, the bill states that a certified copy would also be released if the adopted person is deceased, the adopted person’s direct line descendants, or the lawful representative of such adopted person, or lawful representatives of such deceased adopted person’s direct line descendants.

A woman who was adopted from the Albany area and then grew up in North Syracuse is one of many lobbying for the Clean Bill’s passage.

Susan Moyer found out she was adopted when she was 16 years old.

“My parents told me I was adopted and I suspected it right along,” Moyer shared. “At the time I needed my birth certificate because I wanted to get my driving permit which you need a birth certificate for.”

With some research, Moyer learned she was born in Albany at Brady Maternity Hospital and then placed in what was St.Catherine’s Infant Home for Adoption. 

Moyer also sharing her journey to find answers in her book, The Lonely Child. 

“It is a civil and human right that is denied adoptees and I find it unfair,” Moyer said. 

While lobbying for the Clean Bill in Albany, from time to time, Moyer also speaks about the issue across the country.

Moyer says opposition to the bill put DNA testing and birth parents’ privacy at the top of their reasoning to keep birth records sealed. Moyer says that’s not the answer.

“Now that I became a mother and now I’m a grandmother I wanted to be able to share that information,” Moyer shared. “Plus, I wanted a history and I think everyone should have the right to know where they come from.”

Several lawmakers support the Clean Bill including Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (D-128th), who also happens to be an adoptee herself. Like Moyer, she does not have a copy of her certified birth certificate.

“It’s your story. It’s your past. It’s your history. It’s something that did happen and your birthchild may be able to find you anyway. We live in this social media time,” Hunter said. “We’re in the time of 23andMe and ancestry.com, so people absolutely have an opportunity to find their parents — actually without even going through this kind of Clean Bill process but everybody doesn’t have the means to do that — to be able to afford to get the dna test.”

Assemblywoman Hunter will be in Albany Tuesday alongside others in favor of the bill as the Assembly Health Committee is expected to vote and potentially move the bill forward. 

Moyer will also return to Albany to lobby on May 7.

For more stories and posts by Farah Jadran, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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