It means that a ridiculously complex bill known as A5036B is dead in New York. But it also means a few other things, namely that adoptees and their allies demanded and got an historic veto. It means that 45 organizations and thousands of people from across the country came together. And it means that unrestricted access to the OBC is obviously in reach, not only in New York but in other states.
We obtained a veto of A5036B for two reasons: 1) committed hard work and 2) unified opposition among a broad coalition of diverse organizations. Despite recent odd and secretive actions by some advocates to undermine adoptee rights, we have moved the tide again toward what must always define OBC access: equality. I have listed below the 45 organizations that demanded a veto from Governor Cuomo (five other national organizations also wrote a separate letter to Governor Cuomo requesting his veto). I list them again to remind us about who supported this collective success. I also call on these organizations to do now what is going to be harder soon: commit to support only clean legislation that provides unrestricted access to original birth certificates.
What’s Next in New York?
- A Unified New York Coalition. Four organizations have now formed the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition, a unified front to pursue enactment of a clean and unrestricted law that will restore the rights of adult adoptees to their own original birth certificates. The coalition includes New York Adoptee Equality, Bastard Nation, and American Adoption Congress. I’m also excited that Adoptee Rights Law Center has been included. The coalition is working to build additional support for clean legislation as well as coordinate organizational efforts. We are working to add an additional partner in the near future and hope to announce that soon. More information on these efforts is here, and you can also join these efforts and get involved as a supporter here.
- Department of Health Workgroup. Governor Cuomo’s memo accompanying his veto directed the New York Department of Health to form a workgroup of “diverse stakeholders, including the bill sponsors, to study this issue and offer recommendations.” The workgroup must issue its recommendations by April 30, 2018. Who will ultimately serve on this workgroup remains an open question and is something the coalition is working on.
- Clean OBC Access Bills. Two “same as” companion bills are already pending in New York and have now carried over to the current session. You can follow these bills through the New York legislative site here, with the senate bill, Tony Avella’s S5169A, likely the easiest to follow. I will also update the interactive legislative map here as things develop. NYARC, the new coalition, will also have the most up to date news, and you can follow NYARC on Facebook and Twitter for that.
The next chapter in New York and elsewhere will be intense, exhausting, and unpredictable. If adoptees and their allies stick together on the guiding principle of unrestricted and equal access for all then it will get done—perhaps not this session but soon enough. If we start to believe what some defeatists have already been saying—that adoptees do not have rights and are instead ignorant and naive to demand them—then we will get the same thing that the vetoed New York bill had thrown out to us: scraps of inequality. I don’t work for scraps, nor do I put in the hours for inequality. None of us should. Stay involved. Stay committed. If you didn’t think a veto would happen before, think again of what can happen today.
A Thank You to the Organizations and Individuals Who Successfully Demanded Governor Cuomo’s Veto
Those highlighted first and in blue have recently formed the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition. Preliminary information about that effort is here, including a way to get involved and demonstrate continuing support.
New York Adoptee Equality
Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
Adoptee Rights Law Center
American Adoption Congress
Access Rhode Island
Adoptees in Search – Colorado’s Triad Connection
Adoptees Without Liberty
Adoptee Rights Coalition
AdoptieZaken & Familierecht (AZF/Netherlands)
Adoption Circle of Hawai’i
Adoption Knowledge Affiliates
Adoption Rights Alliance/The Philomena Project (Ireland)
Adoption Support Advocates
Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition New York
Banished Babies of Ireland
Concerned United Birthparents
Donaldson Adoption Institute
Equal Access Oklahoma
Indiana Adoptee Network
Indiana Open Access
International Children’s Rights Institute
Know My Own (Ireland)
Michigan Open Access
Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
Nepal Adoptive Families Association
NJ Coalition for Adoption Reform and Education (NJCARE)
New York Adoptees, Birthparents, and Siblings Searching
New York Statewide Adoption Reform’s Unsealed Initiative
OBC for MA—Massachusetts Access
Oklahoma for Open Records and Adoption Honesty (OORAH)
Open Adoption Records in Quebec
Pennsylvania Adoptee Rights
Post-Adoption Center for Education and Resources (PACER)
Reclaim the Records
Texas Adoptee Rights
The Adoptee Rights Movement (Israel)
Them Before Us
United Survivors (Ireland)
Utah Coalition for Adoption Reform and Education
Washington Adoption Reunion Movement