ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Adoptees can soon obtain a certified birth certificate under a new law passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law Thursday. The law is set to take effect Jan. 15.

Under the current law, adoptees must go before a judge to request access to their birth certificate. Advocates who have fought for 20 years for New York’s law say access isn’t always guaranteed.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says about half of states still require a court order. Some critics worry about privacy rights of birth parents.

RELATED STORY: Dozens Of Foster Kids Get Adopted In Special Ceremony; More Adoptive Families Are Needed

New York’s new law allows adult adoptees, their descendants or legal representative to obtain a certified copy of their original birth certificate.

Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie says knowing where one comes from is critical for learning culture and medical background.

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