While we humans cope with the coronavirus outbreak, there’s a silver lining in all this for the animals at Lollypop Farm.

Cait Daly, the vice president and chief operating officer of Lollypop Farm, said the outbreak gave the animals an unexpected gift.

“It actually made more time for enrichment for animals who are in the shelter,” said Daly. 

For the first time in nearly 85 years, adoptees born in New York State are able to access their original birth certificates. Legislation making that possible went into effect earlier this month. WXXI’s Beth Adams reported on the law and what it means for local adoptees; they say the day the law was passed was monumental.

This hour, we’re joined by local adoptees who share their stories, and we hear from a lawyer who says she thinks the legislation doesn’t go far enough. Our guests:

  • Beth Adams, host of Morning Edition on WXXI News
  • Jenny Thomas, adoptee who runs the Rochester Adoptee Support Group
  • Andie Thompson, adoptee
  • Cathi Swett, attorney and downstate coordinator for New York State Adoptee Equality

freeimages.com/Margarit Ralev

For the first time in 84 years, adopted people born in New York state have access to their original birth certificates.

A new law to unseal those records went into effect on Wednesday.

Many are calling it a monumental day. Adoptees say having quick and easy access to their original birth certificates is a basic right that has been restored.

"I've always had abandonment issues my whole life, and I have sort of wandered around figuring out where do I belong? Who do I belong to?" explained Cara D'Emanuele.

Brad Cupples

Starting Jan. 15, adoptees over the age of 18 in New York state will be able to access their birth certificate without a court order. 

Brad Cupples is an adoptee who advocated to change legislation in the early 2000s. Cupples, 71, said part of the battle has been overcoming stigma around out-of-wedlock births, which was more prominent when he was born in the 1940s.

“It was a thing that was hidden, that was never talked about, that was considered shameful. Girls were told to put it behind you and don’t look back,” Cupples said.

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."

We’ve been hearing national conversations about the emotional price children pay after being separated from their parents at the Mexican border. A local nonprofit says similar feelings of loneliness and uncertainty are part of the experience of hundreds of thousands of children who have been orphaned or part of the foster care system.

An upcoming re-enactment sponsored by Children Awaiting Parents will enable community members to ride an “orphan train.” Years ago, orphan trains ran from eastern American cities to the Midwest, transporting orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children who needed families. Those children would be evaluated at their destination to determine if they were “worthy” of adoption.

This hour, we hear from adoptive parents who share their stories, and we talk to experts about how to help kids navigate the emotional impact of foster care and adoption. In studio:

We hear the adoption story of a local man. Caleb Shulman learned at age seven that he was adopted. As an adult, he set out to find his birth family and access his birth certificate. While he was able to connect with his biological mother, he has not been able to obtain his original birth certificate.

The New York State Legislature passed a bill that it says would help adoptees over the age of 18 access their birth certificates and information about their biological parents. The bill is pending Governor Cuomo's approval. Some opponents of the legislation say it doesn't go far enough in protecting the rights of adoptees and would make it more difficult for adoptees to see their birth certificates. Some supporters say the bill is a compromise to those who want to protect the identity of birth parents [even though confidentiality is not promised in surrender papers] and would be a meaningful adoptee rights law in New York State.  We discuss issues of confidentiality, the adoption process, and more. Our guests:

  • Caleb Shulman, adoptee
  • Laura Glasner, adoption director for Correct: The podcast recording include