Request Governor Cuomo’s Veto of A5036B
More than 45 organizations and thousands of individuals are currently fighting against A5036B, a discriminatory New York bill. Find out more about the bill here, including the letter that dozens of organizations endorsed and delivered to Governor Cuomo. Here’s what else you can do:
- Make it personal. If you are connected to adoption in any way, ask that Governor Cuomo do the right thing: #VetoA5036B. Post this image to Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #VetoA5036B, along with why this issue is personal to you. We have suggested images and easy to use social media links here to do this.
- Contact Governor Cuomo to request a veto of A5036B. Suggested language: “I rise with adoptees and their allies to request a veto of A5036B, which is a discriminatory and fiscally irresponsible bill. Adult adoptees deserve equal rights, not costly and complicated bureaucracy that does little or nothing to promote or secure those rights.” Or, better yet, tell your own story—we suggest that you focus on equality for all adoptees plus attention to the huge unfunded cost of this legislation (for examples, here’s our own New York math that provides a summary of that potential cost as well as the letter from 45 organizations and hundreds of individuals opposed to the legislation)
- Contact us with your own story or for help in getting this issue into the national or New York press. This is key, so don’t be shy. And we can help.
- Share this page and this video with your friends and family on social media. Get word out. We need as many supporters as possible, whether you are adopted, not adopted, or are affected by adoption.
What the Bill Does
The bill sets up an expensive and complex confidential intermediary system involving the New York judiciary and the New York State Department of Health. At its core, release of an unredacted original birth certificate will depend on obtaining birthparent consent. Get more details and answers here.
An original birth certificate is about truth: nothing more, nothing less.
Truth for adoptees can get complicated. We are born, and our births are recorded like any others: place of birth, time of birth, parent names, often our own original names. Things change months later, when we are adopted. That first birth record on file—still containing all of our information and truth—is replaced by a second birth certificate. Our names are changed, our truth is amended, our birth parents’ names are replaced by those of adoptive parents.
All of this was done years ago as a way to suppress the truth and promote a very specific fiction: that we were born “legitimately” to adoptive parents. For these reasons our first birth certificate is placed under seal and made unavailable, even decades later, even when you become a grandmother. And that first record, the original birth certificate, remains unchanged. It is what we call the OBC.
The OBC is our truth. It should be ours, without restriction.
Stay Informed and Step Up
Stay informed about who holds the truth in your own state. Our summary of the laws of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, includes specific information about access to OBCs. We also highlight the barriers most states have constructed to deny or limit adult adoptees to their own truths, including disclosure vetoes, complex registries, mandatory counseling, or redaction.
Understand the difference between a birth record and an adoption record. A birth record is a vital record. It is sealed only when an adoption becomes final (and unsealed if an adoption fails). So, while created as a result of adoption, the original birth certificate is never about adoption. It is always about birth. It is always your own vital record. Unchanged.
Step up for adoptee rights. Bastard Nation, the adoptee rights organization, advocates nationally for adoptees and tracks legislation and adoptee-related developments. Local groups in many states are also advocating on the ground for changes in state laws, including legislation in New York and Massachusetts. Contact local groups to understand what you can do and how you can advocate for change. And, if you are not an adoptee, be supportive of what we are trying to do and understand why what we are doing is so important.
Finally, watch for issues that may lead to legal challenges. If you are denied access to an original birth certificate, let us know. If you have gone to court to get one, let us know—copies of court orders may help us understand local issues and to develop legal strategies to challenge laws that are unjust. While we are working to build a network of pro bono or low-cost attorneys who can advocate in court for access to OBCs, it will take time, coordination, and effort. But it may be an important next step to secure adoptee rights.