Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Grounded New York Adoptee's Letter to Governor Paterson

[Please note: This letter was presented to Ms. Wendy Saunders at the State Capitol on 9/2/09]

Dear Mr. Governor and Deputy Secretary Saunders,

My purpose in writing your offices today is to request your support of Bills A8410/S5269 (at the time of this post) known as “The Adoptee Bill of Rights.” This legislation will grant equal rights to adult adoptees born in New York State by providing us access to our “Original Birth Certificates.”

Original Birth Certificates differ greatly from the “Certificate of Live Birth” New York State currently issues adoptees. While the Original Birth Certificate contains our factual identifying information, the “Amended” certificate is erroneously written as though our adoptive families are our birth parents. This practice in today’s society continues to misguide the general public as well as policy makers. Even President Barack Obama has faced scrutiny of late for having an “Amended Birth Certificate” similar to those issued to adoptees in New York State.

Due to these outdated practices, adoptees in New York State are not receiving the same rights non-adoptees have as U.S. Citizens. In 2004 the 9-11 Commission created “The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative” demanding stricter practices with the granting of a U.S. Passport for travel. Nationwide, adult American-born-adoptees have randomly encountered rejection in their applications for a U.S. Passport. The information contained on our sealed “Original Birth Certificate” has birth information necessary to fulfill Federal Passport requirements while the Amended Birth Certificates do not.

Currently the State Department not only demands extensive detailed proof of birth information, they also demand a non-refundable application fee. Many adult adoptees wait weeks, if not months, for a passport only to have it returned marked “Action Not Taken” while also forfeiting their 100 dollar payment. This denial of our constitutional rights is unfair as we are American-Born residents yet are treated as though we are second-class citizens. As a late-discovery adoptee, I am included in the group of adoptees who are denied in their passport application. Ironically, it was a result of the federal passport requirement that I learned of my adoption at the age of 41 in 2007.

There are over 6 million adult adoptees living in the United States today. It is time for New York State to join Maine, Oregon, Kansas, Alaska, Alabama, and New Hampshire by granting adult adoptees like myself with equal access to our “Original Birth Certificates.” Won’t you please join us by supporting passage of “The Adoptee Bill of Rights”?

Sincerely Yours,

Jeffrey A. Hancock
Western New York Regional Coordinator
New York Statewide Adoption Reform's Unsealed Initiative

[Another Note: Photo lifted from an article on]