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Call to action for NY original birth certificate bill

Particularly today, Father’s Day, as we all celebrate one-half of our parentage, The Legal Genealogist cannot begin to fully understand what it is like not to know the essential facts of one’s own existence: the names of one’s own parents.

However dysfunctional the home was in which I grew up, it was an intact home: I knew both of my parents and, here on this Father’s Day, I am certain thanks to DNA that my father was my father and my mother was my mother. And I have a piece of paper from the State of Colorado that confirms all of those facts, together with date, place, and more.

There is no dark curtain hanging between me and my identity.

Pull back NY curtain

So many people born in New York State can’t say that. Those born in the Empire State and adopted have no right to that original birth certificate that I take so much for granted.

That can change, very soon, but only if the New York State Assembly acts — and very soon.

Here’s the issue:

A bill — A54941 / S3419 2— is pending in the New York State Assembly (the lower house of the New York legislature) that would give New York adoptees and their descendants the right to obtain their original birth certificates. So many members of the Assembly have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill that it is sure to pass once it reaches the Assembly floor.

It has already passed the New York State Senate (the upper house) by a vote of 56-6, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign it if it reaches his desk.3

But the last day of this session for the New York State Assembly is Wednesday, June 19th — and unless the bill is brought to the floor for a vote by then, the bill can’t be acted on this year. It wouldn’t get a chance again until next year.

The Speaker of the Assembly is Carl E. Heastie, and he will decide whether the bill comes up for a vote. If that dark curtain is to be pulled back for New York adoptees, he must bring the bill to the floor by Wednesday.

Our community understands this issue better than most, and we can speak out on behalf of New York adoptees — with kindness and politeness and the firm commitment to the principle that every person has a right to the essential facts of his or her own identity.

Please contact Honorable Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl E. Heastie and ask him to let the Assembly vote on the adoptee birth certificate bill A5494. Here is his contact information:

• Phone: 518-455-3791
• Twitter:
• Email:

If we act now, and speak only with kindness and politeness, we can help get that dark curtain drawn back for New York’s adoptees.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Speak out for NY adoptees,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 16 June 2019).


  1. See New York Assembly Bill A5494.
  2. See New York Senate Bill S3419.
  3. See Nick Niedzwiadek, “Senate passage breathes life into adoptee birth certificate bill,”, posted 11 June 2019 ( : accessed 16 June 2019).
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