Adoptees can access birth certificates under new NY law

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York has become the 10th state to allow adopted adults unrestricted access to their original birth certificates, a step that will help some people investigate their family histories.

A new law effective Wednesday does away with restrictions dating back to the 1930s that required an adoptee to seek a hard-to-get court order to access original birth records.

Those rules had been intended to protect the privacy of parents who relinquished their children. But attitudes about the rights of adopted individuals have shifted, while social media and DNA technology have made it easier for relatives to connect.

Restrictions in New York and nationwide dated back to a time when many women were coerced or shamed into giving up their babies, according to Joyce Bahr, who gave up her son for adoption in 1966 and now serves as president of the New York Statewide Adoption Reform’s Unsealed Initiative.


“Times were different and we were also led to believe our children would go off and live happily ever after, which was a little far-fetched concept,” she said.

associated press