The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo,
As an adoptee born in New York, I ask you to support NYS Adoption Reform legislation S1438/A2003. Please help move this bill to the floor for a vote. It is paramount that all adoptees are given the same basic human rights and ability to plan a secure future, as any other non-adopted human being. But at this point, we cannot do that without knowing if our health is in jeopardy or the health of our children and grandchildren. Our origins and heritage are kept secret because the government keeps this information sealed from the adoptee who has committed no crime. So why are we not able to ensure the health of our families, the way all other citizens of this country can do?
Unrestricted open records for adult adoptees is the norm in most of the rest of the free world. Adoptees should have a right to access the records of their birth in the same manner as any other citizen of this nation. Why do we have to continue living with the unknown simply because we were adopted and are governed by antiquated laws that desperately need to be changed? New York's sealed records law dates back to 1935 when Governor Herbert Lehman signed it into law, perhaps believing it was in the best interests of his three adopted children. However times and attitudes have changed. We all have a moral obligation to look at historical judgments and correct them if they were made in violation of personal rights.
For many, the future is blind without sight of the past. Everyone needs to know where they came from, their origins, their history, their racial and ethnic background, who their mothers and fathers are, and of paramount importance, potentially life-saving medical information. Denying this information is not only an injustice and a denial of a basic human right, but it is immoral and unconscionable.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 ½ years ago. That diagnosis fueled an already burning flame in me to seek out information about my history and birth family. I knew from ‘non-identifying’ information given to me by the adoption agency that my maternal grandmother had passed away at a very young age from a serious undisclosed illness. Did she die of breast cancer? Did my mother also have breast cancer during her life? I would never know because there were no updated medical records available to me. I have 2 children who deserve to know if there have been THREE generations of breast cancer before them.
After countless years of utilizing every available means that NYS had to offer to try and locate my biological information, and $4,000 later, I was still left with major unanswered health issues and frustration for a system that I felt had let me down. Eventually I learned that my birthmom had died 9 years prior, at only 69 years old. She never had any other children, and all her 4 siblings were also deceased. If the records hadn't been sealed and I had been able to search sooner, I could have found her before she died. I felt saddened, cheated, deprived, and angry due to a system that should have been changed years ago. Sealed records robbed from me something I will never get back. My injuries will always be as fresh as the day I was relinquished, and as fresh as the day I realized the injustice when I began my search 12 ½ years ago. My wound thrives on being kept fresh by those who deny me my rights as a human being. The passing of NYS Adoption Reform legislation (S1438/A2003) addresses that violation of human rights.