The new Adoptees Rights Law is now in effect in New York state. It allows adoptees age 18 and older to apply for access to their original birth certificates and learn the names of their biological parents.
On Wednesday, New York became the 10th state to allow adopted adults to access their birth records.
“It is significant. It will, for some, answer a lot of questions, answer a lot of unknowns that they may have had, as well as the ability to connect with their birth family that they may not have known anything about or their birth siblings that they may not have known anything about," said Patty Smith, a caseworker for Friends in Adoption.
Smith has two adopted children of her own. She went through an open adoption with her daughter and maintains a close relationship with her birth mother.
A few years after their son was born, his biological mother opted to switch to a closed adoption and the Smiths currently have no contact with her. Now, as a result of New York's new Adoptee Rights Law, when her son turns 18, he will have an opportunity to learn the identity of his birth mother.
Smith recommends families seek the counseling of adoption professionals to prepare for what may be a very emotional road ahead. In some cases, birth parents may not want to be found.