I considered creating a New York tweetstorm but decided instead to lay it all out here. As in, what the hell is A5036B going to cost New York taxpayers? Here it is in a “tweetstorm” form that may be a bit easier to follow and understand. Hope you can make it through. It should be enlightening.
Let’s do some math with #A5036B, New York’s nutty and terrible not-an-adoptee-rights bill.
The bill requires, among other things, that the New York department of health search for and notify birthparents when an adoptee applies for an original birth certificate.
And, just to be clear, this search/notification is solely for the benefit of birthparents, not adult adoptees.
Adoptees did not want, did not ask, and did not seek anything remotely related to searches. Adoptees have asked only for their original birth certificate, a #simplepieceofpaper.
Getting that piece of paper should cost $30, the same price nonadopted persons pay for their own birth records in New York.
But legislators, and particularly adoption attorneys in the New York legislature, requested state-mandated searches to benefit birthparents, allegedly as a means for their “protection.”
Who pays for that protection? That’s hard to say.
The bill does not provide any funding for the department of health to find/notify these birthparents.
No funding for training, no funding for support, no funding for additional and obvious required staffing.
Not to mention no funding for a costly and required publicity campaign around the bill. Yeah, that’s in #A5036B too.
And as most adoptees or anyone who has searched knows, locating a person from decades-old and often unreliable records can be an expensive and time-consuming process.
But add in requirements of a state-mandated search? With all of the necessary government limitations, CYA requirements, personnel hours, and bureaucracy? Uffda.
How much will all that cost? Well, here’s a solid guesstimate.
And I preface this by saying, “My God, legislators, did you not even think about the financial impact of this?” Is that why there were no hearings?
The New York adoption registry has about 40,000 people on it. About 80 percent are adoptees. So that’s 32,000 adoptees. These are folks already predetermined to want their OBC.
Assuming, conservatively, that only a quarter of these adoptees apply for an OBC under the bill and you’ve got 8,000 applications.
This ain’t unreasonable. Oregon—a much smaller state—had 5,800 adoptees apply for an OBC in its first year of implementing a new OBC access law.
Ohio, in its first year under a new law, had 7,422 requests.
Plus, as should be obvious, there are way more New York adoptees compared to those in Oregon, and more adoptees in New York than Ohio. New York, after all, was once the nation’s capital for black market babies.
So, 8,000 applications in the first year is certainly reasonable, if not a conservative estimate.
What’s the cost? Well, that’s a tad hard to pin down for DOH personnel and expenditures, especially to process thousands of applications and to find people.
The free market for these kind of “searches” is anywhere from $500 to $2,000. This is well-documented by agencies, investigators, and the regular fees people and institutions charge to do such searches.
It costs at least $500 in DC. Nearly $1,000 in Minnesota.
Not to mention the immense amount of time it requires. That’s compensable government taxpayer time, not free search angel or volunteer surf-the-internet and follow-up with DNA testing time.
So let’s be conservative again. Let’s say on average the state must allocate $750 per search in personnel time and costs.
After all, the New York registry process is typically an EIGHT MONTH process to get results—240 days.
Here, the new bill’s search/notification process is supposed to be—wait, it is required to be—completed within 120 days. Half the time that it actually takes for similar registry stuff.
So, going back to the math, we’ve got 120 days allocated to a state department of health to manage 8,000 applications, all multiplied by $750 per search.
What do we get?
A boondoggle of a boondoggle. We get six million bucks. For the first year. Did I say $6,000,000?
And just to be fair, let’s do some quick and easy math. Let’s just cut that in half, for all of you doubters out there. Cut the cost to $375 per search for time, costs, and personnel. Way under market.
That’s still a ton of money, like $3,000,000 ton of money. That’s three times the budget of Governor Cuomo’s newly created Hate Crimes Task Force. Twice the entire amount of what Governor Cuomo requested for all of New York’s post-adoption services. Ouch.
And don’t forget, these “searches” are being justified solely for the benefit of a single constituency: a tiny number of birthparents who allegedly don’t want to be known.
Let’s say that, on average, less than one percent of birthparents wish to remain anonymous. Again, this small percentage is well-documented in many states. One percent is, again, actually conservative and may overstate the number.
Normally, with a solid and equitable OBC access law, these parents simply fill out a contact preference form saying “no contact, please.” Or contact if they so prefer.
What about this bill, New York’s A5036B? Nopers. The department of health IS REQUIRED to search for and notify ALL listed birthparents. Then it must inform the court what it finds or doesn’t find.
ALL birthparents. Even those that the adoptee already knows and may even hang out with. Even birthparents that have died.
Did I say $6,000,000 already? Six million bucks to run through the motions.
So, assuming less than one percent of birthparents allegedly don’t want to be found, we’ve got very few people out there. In Oregon, 86 have so far requested no contact over the last 17 years. 86.
Minnesota, with the longest running system like this, with forty solid years of statistics, counts 1,351 requests for anonymity since 1977. Again, tiny. The math? An average of 33 per year, though next to zero in the last few years.
Some people estimate the New York adoptees at more than 600,000. Probably correct, or at least in the ballpark—Illinois has at least 400,000.
So, New York is being asked to spend $6 million (or $3 million for you doubters) to find far fewer than 100 birthparents each year out of 600,000+ people.
These folks, assuming there are even that many, are the reason for the six million bucks.
The state, upon request of a few adoption attorneys, is about to spend six million bucks to find and notify a tiny number of people . . . solely because an adult adoptee has requested a simple piece of paper.
Who foots the bill? You do. We do. And not only in increased costs but also in shifted financial and social program priorities. In wasted time. In denial of equal rights.
Wait. Halt for a reminder: it costs $30 for a non-adopted person to get his or her birth record in New York.
Suddenly, Governor Cuomo’s program for $1.57 million of post-adoption services looks laughable. Or his $1.5 million Foster Youth Support Initiative. Or any other executive priority.
What should he do? #Veto5036B. It’s a crazy bill that does nothing for adoptee rights and creates a boondoggle for taxpayers.
It favors bureaucracy over rights and spending over results. It’s nuts.
And, thankfully, there’s a better way: bills already in the senate and state assembly that are fiscally responsible and provide equal rights for all adoptees. That’s the way to do it.
If you’re listening, Governor Cuomo, do what’s sensible for adoptees and all New Yorkers. Veto A5036B and tell legislators to get back to work on the existing adoptee rights bill. It’s time.
It’s way over time.