On January 15, 2020, New York’s law, allowing adoptees to receive a certified copy of their original, or pre-adoption, birth certificate when they turn 18-years-old, went into effect. The new law gives the right to all adult New York adoptees to obtain information about their birth and biological parents. Thus, adult adoptees are able to obtain information about their origins, family histories and medical backgrounds .
Starting on January 15, 2020, the New York State Department of Health began accepting requests from adoptees 18-years-old and older born in New York State, outside of New York City, who want to receive their original birth certificate. If the adoptee is deceased, direct line descendants, such as a child, grandchild or great-grandchild of the adoptee, may request a copy of the adoptee’s birth certificate. Also, a lawful representative of an adoptee or a lawful representative of a deceased adopted person’s direct line descendant may also apply for an original birth certificate.
The Department of Health has birth records for all of New York State except New York City. Adoptees born in New York City must apply through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Applications for the birth certificate can be made online and are likely to result in faster issuance of the birth certificate. Paper applications will also be accepted by mail and in person. All certificates will be issued via regular mail; no certificates will be issued in person or via email.
Previously, the original birth certificates were sealed pursuant to the provisions of the Public Health Law and Domestic Relations Law. They could not be released except by the order of the court without meeting a high level of proof.