FAIR LAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New York is considered one of the most difficult states for people who are adopted to get their original birth certificates, naming their biological parents.

A 1935 state law puts those records under seal.

Will this be the year that law is overturned?

Matt DiPaulo often jokes that he knows more about his dog’s background than his own.

New York has some of the strictest adoption laws in the country. (Photo: CBS2)

“Which seems absurd, that an animal you adopt would have more paperwork than somebody born here,” DiPaulo told CBS2’s Tony Aiello earlier this week.

He lives in New Jersey now. Fifty years ago he was adopted into a loving family in upstate New York. DiPaulo is one of thousands of adoptees urging a change in New York law, giving them immediate access to original birth certificates naming their natural parents.

“I was born and raised in the United States. I should have access to all documents that pertain to me, and we don’t, obviously. None of the adoptees do,” DiPaulo said.

And for people in DiPaulo’s situation, they want to know the health history of their birth family.

“They always want to know your background and your medical history and I have to check off ‘unknown,'” DiPaulo said. “I put ‘unknown, adopted’ and leave it at that.”

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In the archive vault at Yonkers City Hall, books hold countless birth certificates. With a warning covering those of adopted children: the information is sealed. Adoptees who fight in court for access often lose.

Assemblyman David Weprin, who is pushing for opening the records, said opponents cite privacy concerns.

“They’re trying to protect the anonymity of certain birth parents that aren’t necessarily requesting that anonymity,” said Weprin, a Democrat representing Queens.

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Weprin’s bill has 90 co-sponsors and supporters are pushing for action this year.

“You want to know just where your story started. You want to know what the truth of the story was,” DiPaulo said.

They are questions DiPaulo hopes to be able to answer soon.

Comments
  1. Edward Branca says:

    New York state legislators should also enact a law to provide for the reunification of brothers and sisters who are separated by adoption. More often than we would like to think, brothers and sisters were separated by adoption and not allowed to see each other again. Even twins and triplets were split up and denied any right of further contact with each other. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski is in the process of introducing a sibling reunification bill. Sibling reunification legislation should be enacted into law this year.

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