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CHAPTER 37

or

AN ACT to amend the public health law and the domestic relations law, in

relation to the adoption information registry
Became a law April 16, 1985, with the approval of the Governor.

Passed by a majority vote, three-fifths being present. The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assenbly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. Sections forty-one hundred thirty-eight-b, forty-one hundred thirty-eight-c and forty-one hundred thirty-eight-d of the public health law, as added by chapter eight hundred ninety-eight of the laws of nineteen hundred eighty-three, are amended to read as follows:

§ 4138-b. Pre-nineteen hundred eighty-four adoption information registry. 1. There shall be established in the department an adoption information registry, operated by employees of the department specifically designated by the commissioner. Access to all records and information in the registry shall be limited to such designated employees and such records and information shall be kept strictly confidential' except as specifically authorized by law. The commissioner shall establish rules and procedures designed to keep such records and information separate and apart from other records of the department and kept in a manner where access to such records and information is strictly limited to such designated employees and shall promulgate regulations designed to effectuate the purposes of this section. Notwithstanding any [other) inconsistent provision of the domestic relations law or any other law to the contrary, the commissioner shall have access to the information authorized to be released pursuant to this section contained in birth and adoption records of any agency, court or department having appropriate [birth] records which will enable the commissioner to effectuate the purposes of this section and may require the cooperation of such agency, court department in providing the information authorized to be released pursuant to this section, provided, however, that the commissioner shall not have access to the actual adoption records of any agency, court or department maintaining such records.

2. The registry shall accept and maintain the verified registration of an adoptee or the adoptive parents or of the parents of an adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption, or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to authorized agency if such adoptee was born in this state but no sooner than twenty-one years after the adoptee's birth; provided, however, that any person whose registration was accepted may withdraw such registration prior to the release of any identifying information. The adoptee registrant shall include as part of the registration identification, including name and address, of known biological siblings. The adoptee' may upon registration or any time thereafter elect not to have release of information by the [licensed voluntary] authorized agency involved in such adoption. The department shall establish a registration fee sufficient to recover search costs and use of registry costs. The department shall establish an authorized agency fee schedule for search costs and registry costs and services provided by such agency in gathering and forwarding information pursuant to this section. 3. For the purposes

of this section,

the term "non-identifying information" shall only include the following information, if known, concerning the parents of an adoptee: a) Age of the parents in years,, at birth of such adoptee.

of the parents, which shall include nationality, ethnic background and race.

(c) Education, which shall be the number of years of school completed by the parents at the time of birth of such adoptee. (d) General physical appearance

of the parents at the time of the birth of such adoptee, which shall include height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin and other information of similar nature.

(e) Religion of parents. f) Occupation of parents. 8) Health history of parents. (h) Talents, hobbies and special interests of parents. (i) Facts and circumstances relating to the nature and cause of the adoption.

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(3) Name of the authorized agency involved in suchtadoption:

Upon acceptance of a registration by an adoptee pursuant to this section, the department shall search the records of the department to determine whether the adoptee's adoption occurred within the state.

(a) If the department determines that the adoption occurred within the state, it shall notify the court wherein the adoption occurred to submit to the department non-identifying information as may be contained in the records of the court[. The department shall, unless the adoptee regis. trant shall elect otherwise, if a licensed voluntary agency was involved in such adoption, release the non-identifying information to such agency; such agency shall thereafter promptly release the nonidentifying information to the adoptee registrant, at

which time such agency may additionally release non-identifying materials, as defined in this section, as may be contained in the records of the agency.

If licensed voluntary) and the names of the parents of the adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption whose signature

required an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the court shall thereupon transmit to the department nonidentifying, information as may be contained in the records of the court, provided that, if the court determines from its records that the adoption was from an authorized agency, the court shall submit

the department only the name and address of such agency and the names of the parents of the adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency. In such cases, unless the adoptee registrant shall have elected otherwise, the department shall notify the authorized agency whose name provided by the

court to release promptly to the adoptee registrant all non-identifying information as may be contained in the agency records. Such agency shall thereafter promptly release the non-identifying information to the adoptee registrant. . If the adoptee registrant shall have elected not to have the information released to him or her by the authorized agency, the agency shall promptly submit to the department all non-identifying information

may be contained in the agency records. In any case where the agency records are incomplete, no longer exist or are otherwise unavailable, the department shall so notify the court. The court shall thereupon promptly submit such non-identifying information as may be contained in its records. If no authorized agency was involved or if the adoptee rega istrant shall have elected not to have release of information by the (licensed voluntary] authorized agency involved in such adoption, the department shall release the non-identifying information to the adoptee registrant. The department and/or (a licensed voluntary] an authorized agency may restrict the nature of the non-identifying information released pursuant to this section upon a reasonable determination that disclosure of such non-identifying information would not

be in the adoptee's or parent's best interest.

(b) If the department determines that the adoption did not occur within the state, it shall notify the adoptee registrant that no record exists of the adoption occurring with the state.

5. Upon acceptance, of a registration pursuant to this section, the department shall search the registry to determine whether the adoptee, the adoptive parents and the parents whose consent to the adoption was required' are also registered.

(a) If the department determines that there is a corresponding registration for the adoptee, each of the adoptive parents and for

each of the parents whose consent to the adoption was required or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency provided, however, that if the department determines that one or both of the adoptive parents have died, it may dispense with the registration and/or consent of such adoptive parent or parents, it shall notify the court wherein the adoption occurred and (if the court verifies that the match is correct,] the department shall notify all such persons that a corresponding match has been made and request such persons final consent to the release of identifying information.

(b) If the department determines that there is no corresponding registration for the adoptee, the adoptive parents and for the parents whose consent to the adoption was required or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency, it shall notify the EXPLANATION-Matter in italics is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law

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registering person that corresponding match has been made. The department shall not solicit request the consent of the registeneds gepfherwispedispen

Unless otherwise dispensed with because of death of one or both of the adoptive parents, upon receipt of a final consent by the adoptee, each of the adoptive parents and by each of the parents whose consent to the adoption was required or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency, the department shall, unless the adoptee registrant shall elect otherwise, if [a licensed voluntary]

authorized agency was involved in such adoption, release identifying information to such agency; such

agency

shall thereafter promptly release identifying information to all the registrants. If no [licensed voluntary], an authorized agency was involved, or if the adoptēe registrant shall have elected not to have release of the information by the [licensed voluntary) authorized agency involved in such adoption, the department shall release identifying information to all the registrants. Such identifying information shall be limited to the names and addresses of the registrants and shall not include any other information contained in the adoption or birth records. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the release of adoption records as otherwise permitted by law.

7. (a) Any employee of the department or any employee of [a licensed voluntary] an authorized agency who solicits or causes another to solicita registration for the

purposes of this section, except as otherwise permitted by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, provided, however, that solicitation shall not include disclosure of the adoption information registry.

(b). Any person who unlawfully discloses any information in the adoption information registry shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision, any employee of the department who unlawfully discloses any information in the adoption information registry shall be subject to dismissal for such violation.

8. For purposes of this section: "authorized agency." or "agency" means an authorized agency as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision ten of section three hundred seventy-one of the social services law.

9. The provisions of this section shall apply to adoptions occurring prior to the first day of April, nineteen hundred eighty-four.

§ 4138-c. Post-nineteen hundred eighty-four adoption information registry. 1. There shall be established in the department adoption information registry, operated by employees of the department specifically designated by the commissioner. Access to all records and information in the registry shall be limited to such designated employees and such records and information shall be kept strictly confidential except as specifically authorized by law. The commissioner shall establish rules and procedures designed to keep such records and information separate and apart from other records of the department and kept in a manner where access to such records and information is strictly limited to such designated employees and shall promulgate regulations designed to effectuate the purposes of this section. Notwithstanding any [other] inconsistent provision of the domestic relations law or any other law to the contrary, the commissioner shall have access to the information authorized to be released pursuant to this section contained in birth and adoption records of any agency, court or department having appropriate [birth] records which will enable the commissioner to effectuate the purposes of this section and may require the cooperation of such agency, court department in

in providing the information authorized to be released pursuant+ this section, provided, however, that the commissioner shall not have access to the actual adoption records of any agency, court or department maintaining such records.

2. the registry shall accept and maintain the verified registration transmitted by an agency pursuant to section forty-one hundred thirtyeight-d of this article, or of an adoptee or of the parents of an adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption, whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency if such adoptee was born in this state but sooner than twenty-one years after the adoptee's birth; provided, however, that any person whose registration was accepted may withdraw such registration prior to the release of any identifying information. The adoptee registrant shall include as part of the registration identifica

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and address, of known biological siblings. The adoptee may upon registration or any time thereafter elect not to have release of information by the (licensed voluntary] authorized agency involved in such adoption. The department shall establish a registration fee sufficient to recover search costs and use of registry costs. The department shall establish an authorized agency, fee schedule for search costs and registry costs and services provided by such agency in gathering and forwarding information pursuant to this section.

For the purposes of this section, the term "non-identifying information" shall only include the following information, if

known, concerning the parents of an adoptee:

a) Age of the parents in years, at birth of such adoptee. background and race.

(c) Education, which shall be the number of years of school completed by the parents at the time of birth of such adoptee.

(d) General physical [apprearance] appearance of the parents at the time of the birth of such adoptee, which shall include height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin and other information of similar natúre.

(e) Religion of parents.
(f) Occupation of parents.
(8) Health history of parents.
Sh Talents, hobbies and special interests of parents.

(i) Facts and circumstances relating to the nature and cause of the adoption.

(j) Name of the authorized agency involved in such adoption. 4. Upon acceptance of a registration by an adoptee pursuant to this section, the department shall search the records of the department

to determine whether the adoptee's adoption occurred within the state.

(a) If the department determines that the adoption occurred within the state, it shall notify the court wherein the adoption occurred to submit to the department non-identifying information as may be contained in the records of the courtt. The department shall, unless the adoptee regisţrant shall elect otherwise, if a licensed voluntary agency was involved in such adoption, release the non-identifying information to such agency; such agency

shall thereafter promptly release the identifying information to the adoptee registrant, at which time such agency may additionally release non-identifying materials, as defined in this section, as may be contained in the records of the agency. If no licensed voluntary

agency] and the names of the parents of the adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the court shall thereupon transmit to the department nonidentifying, information as may be contained in the records of the court, provided

that, if the court determines from its records that the adoption was from an authorized agency, the court shall submit to the department only the name and address of such authorized agency and the names of the parents of the adoptee whose consent to the adoption was required at the time of the adoption or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency. In such cases, less the adoptee registrant shall have elected otherwise, the department shall notify the authorized agency whose name was provided by the court to release

promptly to the adoptee registrant all non-identifying information as may be contained in the agency records. Such agency shall thereafter promptly, release the non-identifying information to the adoptee registrant. If the adoptee registrant shall have elected not to have the information released to him or her by the authorized agency, the agency shall submit promptly to the department all non-identifying information as may be contained in the agency records. In any case where the agency records are incomplete, no longer exist or

otherwise unavailable, the department shall so notify the court. The court shall thereupon promptly submit such non-identifying information

may be contained in their records. If no authorized agency was involved or if the adoptee registrant shall have elected not to have release of information by the [licensed voluntary] authorized agency involved in such adoption, the department shall release the non-identifying information to the adoptee registrant. The department and/or [a licensed voluntary] an authorized agency may restrict the nature of the non-identifying inEXPLANATION-Matter in italics is new; matter in brackets [] is old law

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formation released pursuant to this section upon a reasonable determination that disclosure of such non-identifying information would not be in the adoptee's or parent's best interest.

(b) If the department determines that the adoption did not occur within the state, it shall notify the adoptee registrant that no record exists of the adoption occurring with the state.

5. Upon acceptance of a registration pursuant to this section, the department shall search the registry to determine whether the adoptée or parents whose consent to the adoption was required is also registered.

(a) If the department determines the adoptee is not in contact with a biological sibling under the age of twenty-one and that there is a corresponding registration for the adoptee and for each of the parents whose consent to the adoption required or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency, it shall notify the court wherein the adoption occurred and (if the court verifies that the match is correct,] the department shall notify all such persons that a corresponding match has been made and request such persons' final consent to the release of identifying information.

(b) If the department determines that there is no corresponding registration for the adoptee and for each of the parents whose consent to the adoption was required or whose signature was required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency, it shall notify the registering person that no corresponding match has been made. The department shall not solicit or request the consent of the non-registered person persons.

6. Upon receipt of a final consent by the adoptee, and by each of the parents whose consent to the adoption was required or whose signature

required on an instrument of surrender to an authorized agency, the department shall, unless the adoptee registrant shall elect otherwise, if [a licensed' voluntary) an authorized agency was involved in such adoption, release identifying information to such agency;

such agency shall thereafter promptly release identifying information to all the registrants. If no [licensed voluntary] authorized agency, was involved, or if the adoptee registrant shall have elected not to have release of the information by the [licensed voluntary] authorized agency involved in such adoption the department shall release identifying information to all the registrants. Such identifying information shall be limited to the names and addresses of the registrants and shall not include any other information contained in the adoption or birth records. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the release of adoption records as otherwise permitted by law.

7: (a) Any employee of the department or any employee of [a licensed voluntary] an authorized agency who solicits or causes another to solicit registration for the

purposes of this section, except as otherwise permitted by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, provided, however, that solicitation shall not include disclosure of the adoption information registry:

(b). Any person who unlawfully discloses any information in the adoption information registry shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision, any employee of the department who unlawfully discloses any information in the adoption information registry shall be subject to dismissal for such violation.

8. For purposes of this section: "authorized agency" or "agency" means an authorized agency as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision ten of section three hundred seventy-one of the social services law.

9. The provisions of this section shall apply to adoptions occurring on or after the first day of April, nineteen hundred eighty-four.

§ 4138-d. Mutual consent voluntary adoption registry. 1. A mutual consent voluntary adoption registry may be established and maintained by each [licensed voluntary) authorized agency involved in an adoption. Persons eligible to receive identifying information may work through the agency involved in the adoption. If that agency has merged or ceased operations, a successor agency which has the files pertaining to adoptions in which the ceased or merged agency was involved may establish and maintain a mutual consent voluntary, adoption registry concerning those adoptions. Any authorized agency which establishes and maintains a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry pursuant to this section shall, notify the department of the name and address of such agency,

The agency shall accept and maintain the verified registration of an adoptee or of the parents of an adoptee whose consent to the adoption

required at the time of the adoption, or whose signature was

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