Enacts Bill of Adoptee Rights clarifying language and procedures for obtaining birth certificates and medical histories of adoptees; permits an adopted adult to access certain records when they reach the age of 18; creates a contact preference to be filed by birth parents.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law and the domestic relations law, in relation to enacting the "bill of adoptee rights"
PURPOSE: This bill would allow an adopted person who is at least eighteen years of age to request from the Department of Health a non-certified copy of his or her original birth certificate and/or a medical history form if available
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill amends the public health law by adding a new section, § 4138-e, to establish the "Bill of Adoptee Rights", An adoptee, who is at least 18 years old, may request and receive a non-certified copy of his or her original birth certificate and/or a medical history form, if available, upon proper identification and payment of a nominal fee. Where only a medical history form is requested, the birth certificate and contact preference form will not be sent, but may be requested at a later date. If a copy of the birth certificate cannot be provided, then the adult adoptee may secure from a court of competent jurisdiction or the adoption agency the information that would have appeared on the original birth certificate. A contact preference form and/or a medical history form may be filed by the birth parent(s) with the Department of Health at any time.
Section 2 amends § 4138 of the public health law to allow an adult adopted person to request a certified copy or certified transcript of the certificate of birth based upon the original certificate of birth upon Proper proof of identity and a written notarized request,
Section 3 amends § 4138 of the public health law to provide that when a verified transcript or certification of birth is issued by the registrar, it will be required to issue the document based upon the original local record of birth upon a written notarized request by the adult adopted person once proper proof of identity is provided.
Section 4 amends § 4138 of the public health law to require that when a commissioner makes a new birth certificate for an adult, then a certified copy, a certified transcript and a certification of birth will be forwarded to such adult.
Section 5 amends § 4138 of the public health law by adding two new subdivisions that would allow an adult adoptee or a birth parent to submit to the registrar a notice of change of name and/or address and to be attached to the original birth certificate of the adopted person. If an adopted person has granted permission, then the registrar shall disclose the current name and address to the birth parent at the birth parent's request,
Section 6 amends § 4139-d of the public health law and removes the provision that allows an adoption agency to restrict access to non-iden tifying information that is not in the best interest of the adoptee, the biological sibling or the birth parent(s).
Section 7 amends § 4104 of the public health law to include additional provisions under vital statistics that would be applicable to the city of New York.
Section 8 amends § 114 of the domestic relations law to require certain information be contained in the medical history of the child at the time the child is surrendered by his or her birth parent(s). The law guardian will have the responsibility to ensure the comprehensive completion and filing of the information prior to the acceptance of the termination of parental rights or the entry of a certificate of adoption. The law guardian will provide an affidavit to the court reporting all diligent efforts to obtain the medical history information and a copy of the affidavit will be appended to the original and amended birth certificates.
Section 9 amends114 of the domestic relations law to allow an adult adoptee to request and receive a non-certified copy of his or her original birth certificate and/or a medical history form, if available, upon proper identification and payment of a nominal fee.
Section 10 is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: The Bill of Adoptee Rights' will provide adult adoptees with access to information that a non-adopted person has a legal right to obtain. In New York, an adoptee cannot access his or her original birth certificate unless the adoptee goes through judicial means, and even then, the outcome does not guarantee that access will be granted. This bill will allow adult adoptees to request and receive a noncertified copy of an original birth certificate and/or a medical history form if available.
Adoptees will be able to gain knowledge of their religious and ethnic heritage and access to medical information that may be necessary for preventive health care and illnesses that are linked to family history and genetics. A birth parent may seek to protect his or her privacy by completing a contact preference form that would be sent to the adult adoptee upon a request for a noncertified copy of an original birth certificate. The contact preference form provides the birth parent with the option to be contacted by the adoptee, through an intermediary or to not be contacted at all.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 1993-1994: A10403 2003-2004: A.62398 1995-1996: A.2226 2005: A929 1997-1993: A.4316 2006: A.9923/S.446 1999-2000: A.7541A 2007/2005: A.2277/S.235 2001-2002: A.7943 2009/2010: A.8410A/S.5269A 2011: A.2003/S.1436 2012: 1/24/2012 Referred to health 2/14/2012 Reported referred to codes 5/23/12 Amend and recommit to codes 5/23/12 Print number 8910a
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:; None.
EFFECTIVE DATE:This act shall take effect on the first of January after it shall have become a law, provided, however, that, effective immediately, the commissioner of health is directed to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out provisions of this act
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2490--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 17, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. LANZA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Health -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the public health law and the domestic relations law, in relation to enacting the "bill of adoptee rights" THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 4138-e to read as follows: S 4138-E. BILL OF ADOPTEE RIGHTS. 1. THIS SECTION SHALL BE KNOWN AND MAY BE CITED AS THE "BILL OF ADOPTEE RIGHTS". 2. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY STATES ITS INTENTION TO ACKNOWLEDGE, SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE THE LIFE-LONG HEALTH AND WELL-BEING NEEDS OF PERSONS WHO HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE ADOPTED IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK. THE LEGISLATURE FURTHER RECOGNIZES THAT THE DENIAL OF ACCESS TO ACCURATE AND COMPLETE MEDICAL AND SELF-IDENTIFYING DATA OF ANY ADOPTED PERSON, KNOWN AND WILFULLY WITHHELD BY OTHERS, MAY RESULT IN SUCH PERSON SUCCUMBING TO PREVENTABLE DISEASE, PREMATURE DEATH OR OTHERWISE UNHEALTHY LIFE, IS A VIOLATION OF THAT PERSON'S HUMAN RIGHTS AND IS CONTRARY TO THE TENETS OF GOVERNANCE. AS SUCH, THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SEEK TO ESTABLISH CONSIDERATIONS UNDER THE LAW FOR ADOPTED PERSONS EQUAL TO SUCH CONSIDER- ATIONS PERMITTED BY LAW TO ALL NON-ADOPTED PERSONS; THIS SECTION DOES SO WHILE PROVIDING FOR THE PRIVACY OF AN ADOPTED PERSON AND HIS OR HER BIRTH AND ADOPTIVE FAMILIES. 3. (A) NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, WHEN AN ADOPTED PERSON ATTAINS THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN YEARS, THAT PERSON SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIPT OF A NON-CERTIFIED COPY OF HIS OR HER ORIGINAL (LONG FORM, LINE BY LINE VAULT COPY) BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND ANY CHANGE HIS OR HER BIRTH PARENT OR PARENTS MAY HAVE ATTACHED TO THAT CERTIFICATE,EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02906-03-3 S. 2490--A 2
AND/OR A MEDICAL HISTORY FORM IF AVAILABLE, UPON APPLICATION, PRESENTA- TION OF PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION AND THE PAYMENT OF A NOMINAL FEE. (B) WHEN IT SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE THROUGH GOOD-FAITH EFFORTS TO PROVIDE A COPY OF AN ADULT ADOPTED PERSON'S ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE (AS IN THE CASE OF AN ADOPTED PERSON BORN OUTSIDE OF, BUT ADOPTED WITHIN, THE STATE OF NEW YORK), THE ADULT ADOPTED PERSON SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO SECURE FROM A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION OR THE ADOPTION AGENCY, THE TRUE AND CORRECT IDENTIFYING INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE APPEARED ON HIS OR HER ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE. IN SUCH CASE THE AGENCY SHALL BE HELD HARMLESS FROM ANY LIABILITY ARISING OUT OF THE DISCLOSURE. 4. A BIRTH PARENT MAY AT ANY TIME REQUEST FROM THE DEPARTMENT A CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM THAT SHALL ACCOMPANY A BIRTH CERTIFICATE ISSUED UNDER THIS TITLE. THE CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM SHALL PROVIDE THE FOLLOW- ING INFORMATION TO BE COMPLETED AT THE OPTION OF THE BIRTH PARENT: (A) I WOULD LIKE TO BE CONTACTED. (B) I WOULD PREFER TO BE CONTACTED ONLY THROUGH AN INTERMEDIARY. (C) I HAVE COMPLETED A MEDICAL HISTORY FORM AND HAVE FILED IT WITH THE DEPARTMENT. (D) PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT ME. IF I DECIDE LATER THAT I WOULD LIKE TO BE CONTACTED, I WILL SUBMIT AN UPDATED CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM TO THE DEPARTMENT. THE MEDICAL HISTORY FORM SHALL BE IN A FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPART- MENT AND SHALL BE SUPPLIED TO THE BIRTH PARENT UPON REQUEST OF A CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM FROM THE DEPARTMENT. ONLY THOSE PERSONS WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO PROCESS APPLICATIONS MADE UNDER THIS TITLE MAY PROCESS CONTACT PREFERENCE AND MEDICAL HISTORY FORMS. THE MEDICAL HISTORY FORM AND CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM ARE CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE BIRTH PARENT TO THE PERSON NAMED ON THE SEALED BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND SHALL BE PLACED IN SEPARATE SEALED ENVELOPES UPON RECEIPT FROM THE BIRTH PARENT. THE SEALED ENVELOPES SHALL BE MATCHED WITH AND PLACED IN THE FILE CONTAINING THE SEALED BIRTH CERTIFICATE. THE SEALED ENVELOPES CONTAINING THE CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM AND MEDICAL HISTORY FORM MAY BE RELEASED TO A PERSON REQUESTING HIS OR HER OWN ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE UNDER THIS TITLE. THE CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM AND MEDICAL HISTORY FORM ARE PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE BIRTH PARENT TO THE PERSON NAMED ON THE SEALED BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND NO COPIES OF THE FORMS SHALL BE RETAINED BY THE DEPARTMENT. WHERE ONLY A MEDICAL HISTORY FORM IS REQUESTED THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND CONTACT PREFERENCE FORM SHALL NOT BE SENT, BUT MAY BE REQUESTED AT A LATER DATE. S 2. Subdivision 5 of section 4138 of the public health law, as amended by chapter 201 of the laws of 1972, is amended to read as follows: 5. Thereafter, when a certified copy or certified transcript of the certificate of birth of such a person, or a certification of birth for such person is issued, it shall be based upon the new certificate of birth, except when an order of a court of competent jurisdiction shall require the issuance of a copy of the original certificate of birth OR UPON A WRITTEN NOTARIZED REQUEST BY THE ADULT ADOPTED PERSON HIMSELF OR HERSELF ONCE PROPER PROOF OF IDENTITY IS PROVIDED TO THE REGISTRAR. S 3. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 3 of section 4138 of the public health law, as added by chapter 201 of the laws of 1972, is amended to read as follows: (b) Thereafter, when a verified transcript or certification of birth of such person is issued by the registrar, it shall be based upon the new certificate, except when an order of a court of competent jurisdic-S. 2490--A 3
tion shall require the issuance of a verified transcript or certif- ication based upon the original local record of birth OR UPON A WRITTEN NOTARIZED REQUEST BY THE ADULT ADOPTED PERSON HIMSELF OR HERSELF ONCE PROPER PROOF OF IDENTITY IS PROVIDED TO THE REGISTRAR. S 4. Subdivision 7 of section 4138 of the public health law, as amended by chapter 644 of the laws of 1988, is amended to read as follows: 7. Whenever the commissioner makes a new birth certificate for any person pursuant to the provisions of subdivision one of this section, he OR SHE shall forward to such person, if eighteen years of age or more,
[or to the parents of such person,]a certified copy, a certified tran- script [or]AND a certification of birth, [whichever he deems appropri- ate under the circumstances,]without making any charge therefor. S 5. Section 4138 of the public health law is amended by adding two new subdivisions 8 and 9 to read as follows: 8. (A) AN ADOPTED PERSON EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER, OR THE BIRTH PARENT OR PARENTS, MAY SUBMIT TO THE REGISTRAR A NOTICE OF CHANGE OF NAME AND/OR ADDRESS AND SUCH INFORMATION SHALL BE ATTACHED TO THE ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE ADOPTED PERSON. (B) THE REGISTRAR SHALL DISCLOSE TO THE BIRTH PARENT OR PARENTS AT SUCH PARENT'S OR PARENTS' REQUEST, THE MOST CURRENT NAME AND ADDRESS OF AN ADOPTED PERSON IF THAT ADOPTED PERSON HAS REQUESTED SO BY FILING A NOTARIZED LETTER WITH THE REGISTRAR. 9. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, WHEN AN ADOPTED PERSON ATTAINS THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN YEARS, HE OR SHE SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT, UPON APPLICATION, PROOF OF IDENTITY AND PAYMENT OF A NOMINAL FEE, TO A NON-CERTIFIED COPY OF HIS OR HER ORIGINAL LONG FORM, LINE BY LINE, VAULT COPY BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND/OR A MEDICAL HISTORY FORM, IF AVAILABLE. S 6. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 3 of section 4138-d of the public health law, as amended by chapter 181 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: (b) If the agency determines that the agency was involved in such adoption, it shall transmit the registration to the adoption information registry operated by the department and the agency shall release the non-identifying information, as defined in section forty-one hundred thirty-eight-c of this title, to the [adoptee registrant. The agency may restrict the nature of the non-identifying information released pursuant to this section upon a reasonable determination that disclosure of such non-identifying information would not be in the adoptee's, the biolog- ical sibling's or parent's best interest]ADOPTED PERSON. S 7. Section 4104 of the public health law, as amended by chapter 153 of the laws of 2011, is amended to read as follows: S 4104. Vital statistics; application of article. The provisions of this article except for the provisions contained in paragraph (i) of subdivision two and subdivision four of section four thousand one hundred, section four thousand one hundred three, subdivision two of section four thousand one hundred thirty-five, section four thousand one hundred thirty-five-b, subdivision eight of section four thousand one hundred seventy-four, paragraphs (b) and (e) of subdivision one, PARA- GRAPH (B) OF SUBDIVISION THREE, AND SUBDIVISIONS FIVE, SEVEN, EIGHT AND NINE of section four thousand one hundred thirty-eight, subdivision eleven of section four thousand one hundred thirty-eight-c, PARAGRAPH (B) OF SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT-D, SECTION FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT-E and section four thousand one hundred seventy-nine of this article, shall not apply to the city of New York.S. 2490--A 4
S 8. Subdivision 1 of section 114 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter 751 of the laws of 1989 and designated by chapter 601 of the laws of 1994, is amended to read as follows: 1. If satisfied that the best interests of the adoptive child will be promoted thereby, the judge or surrogate shall make an order approving the adoption and directing that the adoptive child shall thenceforth be regarded and treated in all respects as the child of the adoptive parents or parent. In determining whether the best interests of the adoptive child will be promoted by the adoption, the judge or surrogate shall give due consideration to any assurance by a LOCAL commissioner of social services that he OR SHE will provide necessary support and main- tenance for the adoptive child pursuant to the social services law. Such order shall contain the full name, date and place of birth and reference to the schedule annexed to the petition containing the medical history of the child in the body thereof and shall direct that the child's medical history, heritage of the BIRTH parents, which shall include nationality, ethnic background and race; education, which shall be the number of years of school completed by the BIRTH parents at the time of the birth AND ALSO AT THE TIME OF SURRENDER of the adoptive child; general physical appearance of the BIRTH parents at the time of the birth AND ALSO AT THE TIME OF SURRENDER of the adoptive child, which shall include height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin; occupation of the BIRTH parents at the time of the birth AND ALSO AT THE TIME OF SURRENDER of the adoptive child; health and medical history of the BIRTH parents at the time of the birth AND ALSO AT THE TIME OF SURRENDER of the adoptive child, including all available information setting forth conditions or diseases believed to be hereditary, any drugs or medica- tion taken during the pregnancy by the child's mother; and any other information which may be a factor influencing the child's present or future health, INCLUDING THE talents, hobbies and special interests of THE BIRTH parents as contained in the petition, be furnished to the adoptive parents. IN RECOGNITION OF THE IMPERATIVE LIFELONG IMPORTANCE OF SUCH INFORMATION FOR THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF THE ADOPTED PERSON, IT SHALL BE THE DUTY OF THE LAW GUARDIAN AS PROVIDED FOR BY SECTIONS TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE, TWO HUNDRED FORTY-TWO, TWO HUNDRED FORTY-NINE AND TWO HUNDRED FORTY-NINE-A OF THE FAMILY COURT ACT TO ENSURE THE COMPREHENSIVE COMPLETION AND FILING OF ALL THE ABOVE REFERENCED INFORMATION PRIOR TO THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS OR THE ENTRY OF A CERTIFICATE OF ADOPTION. IT SHALL BE DEEMED BY THAT LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE THAT SUCH INFORMATION IS ALWAYS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD AND IS A PROTECTED RIGHT. PRIOR TO TERMINATION OF DUTIES, SUCH LAW GUARDIAN SHALL PROVIDE, AS DIRECTED BY SECTION FORTY-ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT-C OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH LAW AND SECTIONS THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-THREE AND THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-THREE-A OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES LAW, TO THE RESPEC- TIVE RESPONSIBLE PARTIES ALL SUCH COLLECTED DATA, AND PROVIDE AN AFFIDA- VIT TO THE COURT REPORTING ALL DILIGENT EFFORTS TO OBTAIN SUCH DATA. A COPY OF SUCH AFFIDAVIT SHALL BE APPENDED TO THE ORIGINAL AND ANY AND ALL AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATES. If the judge or surrogate is also satisfied that there is no reasonable objection to the change of name proposed, the order shall direct that the name of the adoptive child be changed to the name stated in the agreement of adoption and that henceforth he OR SHE shall be known by that name. All such orders made by a family court judge of Westchester county since September first, nineteen hundred sixty-two, and on file in the office of the county clerk of such county shall be transferred to the clerk of the family court of such county. Such order and all the papers in the proceeding shall be filed in theS. 2490--A 5
office of the court granting the adoption and the order shall be entered in books which shall be kept under seal and which shall be indexed by the name of the adoptive parents and by the full original name of the child. Such order, including orders heretofore entered, shall be subject to inspection and examination only as hereinafter provided. Notwith- standing the fact that adoption records shall be sealed and secret, they may be microfilmed and processed pursuant to an order of the court, provided that such order provides that the confidentiality of such records be maintained. If the confidentiality is violated, the person or company violating it can be found guilty of contempt of court. The fact that the adoptive child was born out of wedlock shall in no case appear in such order. The written report of the investigation together with all other papers pertaining to the adoption shall be kept by the judge or surrogate as a permanent record of his OR HER court and such papers must be sealed by him OR HER and withheld from inspection. No certified copy of the order of adoption shall issue unless authorized by court order, except that certified copies may issue to the agency or agencies in the proceeding prior to the sealing of the papers. Before the record is sealed, such order may be granted upon written ex parte application on good cause shown and upon such conditions as the court may impose. After the record is sealed, such order may be granted only upon notice as hereinafter provided for disclosure or access and inspection of records. The clerk upon request of a person or agency entitled thereto shall issue certificates of adoption which shall contain only the new name of the child and the date and place of birth of the child, the name of the adoptive parents and the date when and court where the adoption was granted, which certificate as to the facts recited therein shall have the same force and effect as a certified copy of an order of adoption. S 9. Section 114 of the domestic relations law is amended by adding a new subdivision 5 to read as follows: 5. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, WHEN AN ADOPTED PERSON ATTAINS THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN YEARS, SUCH ADOPTED PERSON SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT, UPON APPLICATION, PROOF OF IDENTITY AND PAYMENT OF A NOMINAL FEE, TO A NON-CERTIFIED COPY OF HIS OR HER ORIGINAL LONG FORM, LINE BY LINE, VAULT COPY BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND/OR MEDICAL HISTORY FORM, IF AVAILABLE. S 10. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law, provided, however, that, effective immediately, the commissioner of health is directed to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this act.