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Monday, November 7, 2011

Good news in New York State

Assemblyman David Weprin calls for change in state to give adoptees access to their birth records                                                                                                            

Change would help track family and medical issues

Sunday, November 6 2011, 6:38 PM
 
Nov 6, 2011 - Manhattan, NY
Norman Y. Lono/NORMAN Y. LONO
Nov 6, 2011 - Manhattan, NY
State Assemblyman David I. Weprin on Sunday called for a change in state law that bars adoptees from seeing to their birth records.
Weprin said he is sponsoring the “Adoptees Bill of Rights” bill to give adoptees access to their birth certificate and medical records once they turn 18. Weprin said birth records are sealed and kept by the state Department of Health once someone is adopted.
"This bill would allow adoptees, when they turn 18, access to their original birth certificate,” Weprin, joined by adoptive advocates, said Sunday on the steps of City Hall. “It is time these archaic laws be amended to reflect our current reality.”
Adult adoptees must go through the courts to get their records - a costly move with no guarantee of success, adoptive advocates said.
“They are the only classification of persons that have no right to their birth information,” said Ellyn Essig, legal advisor for Unsealed Initiative, a group fighting for adoptee access to birth records. “All we’re looking for is equal footing with everybody else.”
Larry Dell, 63, of Maplewood, N.J., discovered he was adopted four years ago, and said changing the law would help him find his family.
“I would get my original birth certificate with the names of my parents,” Dell said. “That’s what I need. That’s the missing piece.”
Weprin said the bill has wide bipartisan support, and he anticipates a vote when the assembly goes back into session in January. Seven other states have passed similar legislation.
Weprin said access to birth records wasn't only a human right, but it allows adoptees to find out their family medical history.
Adoptee Joel Vergun, 51, agreed. Vergun said finding his birth mom, Jill Auerbach, 68, of Poughkeepsie, was the difference between life and death.
“There's a serious history of heart disease in my family,” Vergun said. “Because she found me eight years ago, I went and had some tests done that I wouldn't have known to do otherwise. They found a couple of conditions, which were treated, which would have caused me to have an arrhythmia, which would have caused my heart to suddenly stop like it did my birth father. She saved my life.”
November is National Adoption Month.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/assemblyman-david-weprin-calls-change-state-give-adoptees-access-birth-records-article-1.973061#ixzz1d2Nz424j

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.