SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – A new law goes into effect Wednesday that will allow people who were adopted as children to get a certified copy of their birth certificate, allowing them to see information about their birth and biological parents for the first time. For central New York state Assemblywoman Pam Hunter, the new law is personal.
Hunter had her annual mammogram earlier this month and noticed a sign on the wall.
“It said ‘do you know your cancer risk?’,” she said.
Hunter couldn’t answer that question, because she is adopted.
“I mean, obviously, you know the precautions about healthy weight and healthy eating,” she said. “But because of your history, no.”
It’s one reason she was one of many champions of state legislation that opens up birth records for adopted individuals. It repeals a law from the 1930s that kept birth certificates sealed. New York is one of several states that has recently opened up adoption records, and Hunter said it’s about time.
“We live in different times than we did in the 1930s,” she said. “Everything isn’t a secret, with Ancestry and 23 and Me, there’s a way in which, with digging and money, people can find a second or third or fourth cousin.”
Hunter, who is black, was adopted from a New York City hospital when she was nine months old, raised in a white family, and always knew she was adopted. She tried one of the ancestry.com DNA tests and only got as close as some distant cousins. In her gut, she thinks she’ll embark on the journey to find her birth mother, but hasn’t made the decision yet.
“You know there’s always the curiosity, is my birth mother still alive? Is this person someone I want to meet? I don’t think I’ll wait until the 11th hour. But I do know I do have that choice,” she said.
The New York State Health Department is managing the new law. Any adoptee who wants to request a copy of their birth certificate can do so online. Paper applications will also be accepted, but state officials say applying online is the most efficient, and fastest way to get results.