Access to Adoption Records - New York

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Who May Access Information

Citation: Pub. Health Law §§ 4138-c; 4138-d

The following persons may receive information:

  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • The birth parents
  • A birth sibling who is age 18 or older

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Pub. Health Law §§ 4138-c; 4138-d

The Department of Health shall operate an adoption information registry for the exchange of nonidentifying information between the persons listed above. Nonidentifying information shall include only the following information, if known, about the adoptee, birth parents, and birth siblings:

  • The age of the parents in years at the time of the child's birth
  • The heritage of the parents, including nationality, ethnic background, race, and religion
  • Education completed by the parents at the time of the child's birth
  • General physical appearance of the parents at the time of the child's birth, including height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin, and other information of similar nature
  • The occupation of the parents
  • The health history of the parents
  • The talents, hobbies, and special interests of the parents
  • The facts and circumstances relating to the adoption
  • The existence of any known birth siblings
  • The number, sex, and age, at the time of the adoptee's adoption, of any known birth siblings

Upon acceptance of a registration, the department shall search registry records to determine whether the adoptee's adoption occurred within the State. If the adoption did occur within the State, the department shall request nonidentifying information from court records. If the department determines that the adoption did not occur within the State, it shall notify the registrant that no record exists of the adoption occurring within the State.

A mutual consent voluntary adoption registry may be established and maintained by each authorized agency involved in an adoption. Any authorized agency that establishes and maintains a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry shall notify the department of the name and address of the agency, together with such other information the department may require.

The agency shall accept and maintain the verified registration of the birth parents of an adoptee, an adoptee, or the birth sibling of an adoptee if such adoptee was born in this State, any other State within the United States, or the District of Columbia, and his or her adoption occurred within this State, no sooner than 18 years after the adoptee's birth or in the case of a birth sibling registrant, no sooner than the longer of 18 years after the birth of the adoptee or the birth sibling.

Upon acceptance of a registration, the agency shall search the records of the agency to determine whether the agency was involved in such adoption. If the agency determines that the agency was involved in the adoption, it shall transmit the registration to the adoption information registry operated by the department, and the agency shall release the nonidentifying information to the adoptee.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Pub. Health Law §§ 4138-c; 4138-d

The department shall operate an adoption information registry for the exchange of information among the persons listed above. Any person whose registration was accepted may withdraw the registration prior to the release of any identifying information.

Upon acceptance of a registration, the department shall search the registry files to determine whether the person sought is registered. If there is a match, the department shall notify the court to request the person's final consent to the release of identifying information.

Upon receipt of a final consent by the adoptee, birth parent, and/or birth sibling, the department shall, unless the adoptee or birth sibling has elected otherwise, release identifying information to all the registrants. Such identifying information shall be limited to the names and addresses of the registrants and shall not include any other information contained in the adoption or birth records.

A mutual consent voluntary adoption registry may be established and maintained by each authorized agency involved in an adoption. Persons eligible to receive identifying information may work through the agency involved in the adoption. Upon receipt of a final consent by the adoptee, by either of the birth parents, and/or by a birth sibling of the adoptee, the agency shall release identifying information about the consenting registrants to the consenting registrants. Such identifying information shall be limited to the names and addresses of the consenting registrants and shall not include any other information contained in the adoption or birth records. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the release of adoption records as otherwise permitted by law.

An adoption medical information subregistry shall be part of the registry. Access to all identifying records and information in the subregistry shall be subject to the same restrictions as the adoption information registry. The department shall establish procedures by which a birth parent may provide medical information to the subregistry, and by which an adoptee age 18 or older, or the adoptive parents of an adoptee who is under age 18, may access the medical information.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Pub. Health Law § 4138-e

Effective January 15, 2020: The legislature hereby states its intention to acknowledge, support, and encourage the life-long health and well-being needs of persons who have been and will be adopted in this State. The legislature further recognizes that the denial of access to accurate and complete medical and self-identifying data of any adoptee, knowingly withheld by others, may result in such person succumbing to preventable disease, premature death, or otherwise unhealthy life, is a violation of that person's human rights. As such, the provisions of this section seek to establish considerations under the law for adoptee's equal to such considerations permitted by law to all nonadopted persons. This section does so while providing for the privacy of an adopted person and his or her birth family.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the commissioner or a local registrar, upon application, proof of identity, and payment of a nominal fee, shall issue certified copies of original birth certificates, including any change attached to that certificate by a birth parent or parents, and any information provided to the commissioner or a local registrar pursuant to § 114(1) of the domestic relations law, to (i) an adoptee, if age 18 or more; or (ii) if the adoptee is deceased, the adoptee's direct-line descendants; or (iii) the lawful representatives of an adoptee or a deceased adoptee's direct-line descendants, as the case may be.

When it is impossible for the commissioner or a local registrar to provide a copy of an adult adoptee's original birth certificate, the true and correct information about the adoptee and the adoptee's birth parents, including their identifying information, that would have appeared on the original birth certificate shall be provided to (i) an adoptee, if age 18 or more; or (ii) if the adoptee is deceased, the adoptee's direct-line descendants; or (iii) the lawful representatives of an adoptee or a deceased adoptee's direct-line descendants, as the case may be, by any authorized agency.

Where the Information Can Be Located

New York State Department of Health, Adoption Registry