Orange County adoption rights activist gets original birth certificate under new NY law

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An Orange County activist behind New York's new adoption rights bill is one of the first adoptees in the state to get her original birth certificate under the new law.

Annette O'Connell, of Highland Mills, is a board member for Adoptees United, an adoption rights nonprofit organization.

"As far back as I can remember, I always just wanted to know the 'why'," O'Connell said while she was growing up adopted.

She knew her birth certificate would help answer that and other questions. She though it would arrive in the mail when she turned 18 because her parents had told her so.

"Every day, the mailman would be like, ‘No, Not today Anne, not today,’ and after maybe like a week, a week and a half I was like ‘alright, well this isn't happening,’" O’Connell recalled.

Now more than four decades later, she finally received her birth certificate thanks to a new law that gives adopted adults the right to access their original birth certificate, a law that the 52-year old herself helped get passed.

"I've never been so happy to sign for something at my front door in my life. And I just had to hold the UPS envelope amd I couldn't open it," O’Connell said.

New York is one of 10 states that gives adoptees access to their first medical record.

O'Connell says thousands have requested their original birth certificate since the law went into effect Jan. 15. It’s something that O'Connell said made a personal moment even more emotional.

"It's overpowering and I think because I put five years into walking the halls in Albany and educating legislators and really pounding pavement, I was part of an amazing team," O'Connell said. "But we all left this legacy and it's incredible."

Adoptees interested in getting their original birth certificate can do so online.

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