A vote by state lawmakers might help confirm when an adoptee was actually born

June 21, 2019 07:23 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- A new bill passed in New York this week unlocks 80 years of secrets for thousands of people in our community and their families.

The bill started to get traction five months ago after News10NBC exposed the long-standing law in New York. 

Since 1939, adopted children in New York had no access to birth records. They were sealed by a law signed by a governor who didn't want people who know how he got his child. 

But now, that's changed. 

"I am ecstatic. I'm excited," said Kamron Simpson who was adopted as a child. 

Simpson says she finally feels like a complete person. 

When we first talked to her in January, she and thousands of adoptees in New York State were barred from getting their original birth certificate and other birth records. But now the state Assembly and Senate passed a law releasing that information. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "When you get that birth certificate in your hands, what is that going to feel like?"

Kamron Simpson: "I won't know until I get it but I imagine it's going to be very emotional for me."

The original law in 1939 sealed the records of adopted children. It was signed by Gov. Herbert Lehman who adopted a child from a notorious baby broker in Tennessee. 

Assemblyman Mark Johns from Fairport was one of more than 100 Assembly members to sponsor the bill and vote for it. When we reached him on the phone in Albany he said part of his rationale for supporting it was a health decision. 

"What if you have a brother or sister out there that you don't know about or maybe a half brother or sister," he said. "There are kidney transplants, liver transplants, corneal transplants. It could be a real lifesaver if you find out who your family is."

The adoptees say it's about knowing and confirming who they are. 

Consider this: based on her own Ancestry DNA research she shared with us in January, Kamron Simpson learned her name was Lucy when she was born. Her whole life she celebrated her birthday on May 28. Now, she believes she was actually born on June 4. 

Brean: "What day are you going to celebrate your birthday on going forward?"

Simpson: "I haven't decided yet."

Brean: "Maybe you'll celebrate it twice."

Simpson: "Yeah, that's what my family and friends say. Just celebrate it twice. "

Simpson's birth certificate will confirm the date.  

News10NBC listened to the debate on this bill. Concern was raised by some lawmakers about the confidentiality of birth parents, especially birth mothers in the event they were victims of rape. 

The issue came up at a news conference with Gov. Cuomo and his chief council Alphonso David. The governor and Mr. David were asked if the bill passed by the Assembly and Senate fixed the concerns they had with the original bills. 

"We're going to have to take a closer look at that bill," Mr. David said. "If you may recall, when the first version of the bill was passed, there were strong objections from the advocacy community. The bill has now been modified, but we have to take a closer look at it to make sure the concerns have been addressed."


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Berkeley Brean

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