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New York law gives adoptees access to birth certificates

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation that allows New York to join nine other states that allow adoptees to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18. 

"Every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records -- it's a basic human right," Cuomo said in a statement. "For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information, and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all."

Assembly sponsor David Weprin, a Queens Democrat, said up until now, an adopted person in New York had to petition a court to gain access to the names of their birth parents. Now they just have to apply to the New York City or their county health department to get the records.

Weprin said it’s a sign of changing attitudes about adoption.

“There was a stigma attached to giving up a child for adoption,” Weprin said. “And that’s not the case anymore.”

He said many birth mothers would like to reunite with the children that they gave up for adoption.

Weprin predicted that it will lead to the reunification of many families.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.