New York Adoption Laws

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Access to Adoption Records

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
  • The adoptive parents of an adoptee who is under age 18
Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Pub. Health Law §§ 4138-c; 4138-d

The department 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

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.

If an agency was involved in the adoption, nonidentifying information may be accessed by registering the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry maintained by the agency.

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 maintained by each agency involved in an adoption. Persons eligible to receive identifying information may work through the agency involved in the adoption. The agency shall accept and maintain the registrations of an adoptee, the birth parents, or a birth sibling. 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 release nonidentifying information.

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

The original birth certificate is available only upon order of the court.

Where the Information Can Be Located

New York State Department of Health, Adoption Registry


Contact:

Adoption Information Registry
New York State Department of Health
PO Box 2602>br? Albany, NY 12220-2602
(518) 474-9600
http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/vr/forms/registry.htm

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate:

An adoptee must petition the court in which the adoption was finalized.

Document Fees

Effective August 1, 2003, the fee for certified copies of birth and marriage certificates issued by the New York State Dept of Health in Albany went up from $15 per copy to $30 per copy.

The fee for obtaining a certified copy of a birth certificate issued by the New York City Dept. of Health in Manhattan is still $15 per copy.

The fee for certified copies of marriage certificates issued by the New York City Clerk's Office is still $18 for the first copy (with live signature), and $13 for each subsequent copy (with live signature) of the same record.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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