As licensed Family Search Investigators, the best of us have learned tips and tricks to tunnel under brick walls successfully. Remember, there are 50 states and 50 different laws governing adoption records, open OBC access or not, so we are continually learning new laws, rules and regulations because they are in a continual state of flux. We try and encourage those searching to not put their search off, but many do for multiple reasons, lack of funds, not wanting to offend or hurt their adoptive parents, absolutely no desire to discover self, no desire for ethic or genetic information and many more. Often we here, I’ll do it next year, or after I’m 40, or some other reason that the adoptee feels is valid.
One of the most difficult states to search in is New York, and those searches tend to take the longest. We had ‘one’ bright’ light, however, in the 5 boroughs of New York City, because the Boroughs Birth Index was available for review at the public library. What an excellent source of historical and genealogical information! Several years ago some very clever researcher discovered that the amended names of those adopted who were born in the boroughs did not appear in that index baring very few exceptions. What he/she did discover was that the City Vital Records office often changed their original document number by adding a 10 or a 1 in front of the original number. Changing it just a bit, but we also developed a formula to follow when researching that would eventually lead us to the right surname. This was tedious research and often took 2 – 3 days to complete.
Hundreds if not thousands of adoptees at least learned their original surname in this manner. It was so commonplace for people doing research that whole families or groups of friends would work together to find that ‘golden’ number.
A recent shock ran through the Adoption Search community when it was learned that the Boroughs Vital Stat’s office removed those Birth Indexes from the library, citing some obscure law to do so, regardless to the fact that up until the early 1980’s it was perfectly legal to print and distribute the information.
Now what does this mean? This means the public lost a source that enabled adult adoptees to discover their names at birth. This also means that if you were born ‘after’ 1965 you are out of luck if you had decided to put your search off till a more opportune time. And folks not everyone has access to that older chunk of this index, nor do we know how long it’s going to be available to use so ‘if’ you’re not wanting to wait until Hell Freezes for a reasonable OBC Access Bill for New York State, start your search today.