TRENTON – The Assembly approved a bill that would give adoptees in New Jersey access to their medical history and birth records on Monday by a vote of 44-26-2. The bill now heads to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, though he has not given an indication of whether he will sign it into law.
“So many adoptees know the value of what many of us who were raised by our biological parents take for granted – a family history,” said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. “Knowledge of who your parents were, who your grandparents were – this is fundamental to some of the most basic questions of identity that we can have. And with the Governor’s signature, adoptees in the Garden State will finally have a right to know.”
Under the bill, the birth parents of individuals put forward for adoption in New Jersey would have one year from the enactment of regulations to submit a request to the state registrar for non-disclosure.
During this year, adoptees would be able to contact the adoption agency they came from to get non-identifying medical information, including a family medical history, alerting them to any genetic predispositions they may carry for certain types of illnesses.
After birth parents have had an opportunity to opt out of disclosure, an adopted person 18 years of age or older, an adult direct descendant of an adopted person if that person is deceased, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person, would be able to request from the State Registrar a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate.
Birth parents would be required, after the year allotted for them to opt-out, to submit a preference form for how they would like to be contacted: either directly, through an intermediary or not at all.
If the birth parents choose not to be contacted, they would have to submit medical and cultural information which would be provided to an adoptee when they receive a redacted version of their birth certificate.
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