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New York state gives adopted adults unrestricted access to their birth certificates under new law

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 17:26:47-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Melissa Rakvica thought she was never going to find out who her birth parents are, and she made peace with that.

Then a new state law went into affect that allowed her and other adoptees to get a copy of their birth certificate. They can find out where they were born, and who their birth parents are.

"It just feels like, it's an inequality that's been righted," said Rakvica. She said she couldn't wait until the law took effect in New York state Wednesday.

"12:01. I was online, I was done by like 12:25, couldn't sleep for like an hour and a half after that," she said.

She said she felt overwhelmed and emotional knowing she'll now start a new journey to try find her birth mother.

"If I do find my birth mother, you know, will I be able to have a conversation or a relationship with her? Is she still living? Does she want anything to do with me? And again that's totally her right," said Rakvica.

Adoptee Rights Advocate Doris Sippel, who was also adopted, said it's critical to be able to answer those types of questions.

"Each person has different reasons for wanting the birth certificate, some people just want to see the information on paper," she said.

But for Rakvica, she just wants to express her gratitude to her birth mother.

"I really want to let the birth mother know that I've had a good life, I had good parents, I have good relationships with my siblings, and that I'm really grateful to her," she said.

Rakvica said a copy of her birth certificate should be coming in the mail in 15 to 20 business days.

Adoptees can request a copy of their birth certificate from the New York Department of Health by applying online, by mail or in person. And all birth certificates will be issued by mail.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said since the site launched over 12 hours ago, they have received nearly 1,700 requests and they expect that number to keep climbing.