I am writing in support of S5169A.
Although I am not a resident of New York, I am a mother who lost a child to adoption in 1964 (reunited in 1986) and am very passionate about the absolute right of every person to his or her own personal birth information. I have spent the past 30 years of my life, full-time since retirement 12 years ago, advocating for adoption reform, adoptee and parental rights, and providing Search Angel services free of charge.
I have personally facilitated more than 1,500 adoption reunions in the past 12 years. Since the advent of autosomal DNA (atDNA) testing, within the past five years, we are now solving searches at a mind-boggling rate. I personally average five searches a week, and I am only one of hundreds of Search Angels. In this new age of information technology, there simply is no credible reason to keep adoptees’ birth records locked up in bureaucratic secrets and lies.
From my experience and knowledge, more than 95% of the mothers are happy to be found and look forward to having their lost children back in their lives.
But, ultimately this bill is not about search and reunion; it is about the absolute right of adoptees to be free of state-imposed discrimination and oppression by the sealing of their OBCs. What they choose to do with it is their personal business. The public and the State have no more right to intrude in their personal lives and question their motives for wanting their personal birth information than we do in anyone else's who was not adopted.
This is such an important piece of legislation that is way overdue for passage. As a basic human right, adopted people deserve the opportunity enjoyed by every other citizen of saying, "I know" instead of "I wonder." We have the examples and experiences of several other states that have restored dignity, justice and respect to people whose records were sealed because of adoption - OR, AL, ME, NH, RI, IL, OH, CO, WA, NJ, HI, MO, PA, MT, among them - where tens of thousands of adopted persons have received their original birth certificates with no negative repercussions whatsoever.
I hope that NY legislators will now step up and do the right thing.
Priscilla Stone Sharp
Mother of Loss to Adoption/Search Angel/Adoptee Rights Advocate