Adult NY adoptees can now access original birth certificates

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Wednesday was a monumental day for adoptees 18 and older in New York State.

The Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights went into effect on Wednesday allowing adopted adults to get their original birth certificate. For the last 80 years, adoptees could only receive a redacted version, which left out critical family information. 

Many New York adoptees spent part of their day in the Vital Records office at the Department of Health in Menands filling out applications. 

Executive Deputy Commissioner for the State Department of Health Sally Dreslin said it’s a wonderful opportunity for adoptees to be able to reclaim some of their family history. The pre-adoption birth certificate will include the names of their biological parents, and they’ll receive any additional information included in the previously sealed file pertaining to the adoption.

Dreslin said it could also potentially uncover critical medical information. 

“We will be able to provide for New Yorkers who were born outside of NYC. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will work with people born in NYC,” said Dreslin. 

Jay Hunter has been advocating for access to these records for years.  He’s already jumped through hoops and paid thousands of dollars for a private investigator to find his birth parents about five years ago.

Still, on Wednesday morning, he drove to vital records to submit an application, which cost $45 each. 

“The fact is we didn’t have a choice before, but after today we finally have a choice. I guess because it’s been such a long time coming, it feels surreal. It won’t really fully set in until I actually receive it I guess,” said Hunter. 

Dreslin said they do expect a high amount of applications to flood in with more than 1,400 submitted within hours of the first day.

“We’ll do everything as quickly as possible,” she said.

Annette O’Connell, the spokesperson for the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition, said many adoptees will also find out what name they were given at birth or even what time of day they were born. It’s information O’Connell said so many take for granted. 

“I had no stories. You don’t realize how important those stories are because you’ve always had them, but those stories matter and they matter a great deal. So this is so very, very validating.” 

Adoptees who are 18 and older and are born in New York State, outside of New York City, can submit their requests by applying online through the New York State Department of Health.

The Department of Health has records for everyone born in New York State, outside of the city.

The quickest way to submit an application is by going online to  

To find out how to apply, click here.

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