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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.

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