TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature in May that would have given adopted people access to their medical history and birth records. Under Christie’s revised version, adopted individuals will still be able to get the information but may have to wait up to a year.
“The decision of any biological parent to seek adoptive parents for a child is an enormously complicated choice and the protections of anonymity can be a significant consideration when choosing adoption,” Christie said. “Yet I also strongly empathize with the adopted child, and adoptive parents, who may long to know the identity of the birth parents.”
Christie’s revisions would allow an adoptee to obtain an original birth certificate without involvement from the courts. He or she would be able to enlist the services of a confidential intermediary at an approved adoption agency to conduct the search for the birth parents, and obtain consent for additional contact.
If a birth parent chooses not to consent to a release of the child’s original birth certificate, the birth parent may alternatively provide the confidential intermediary with family medical history information. In cases where an approved intermediary cannot locate a birth parent following a twelve month investigation, the state may release the original birth certificate.
For future adoptions, birth parents would be required to submit an information statement to memorialize their preferences for future communication with the adopted child: complete information sharing, sharing via an intermediary, or sharing only non-identifying medical information.
“Adoptees did not have a choice when it came to their adoption, but they should have a choice when it comes to making educated health care decisions for themselves and their families,” said Asw, Grace Spencer (D-Essex). “This legislation gave them leverage by making their medical information and birth records available to them. I expect the Governor’s version of the bill to do the same and I will be thoroughly reviewing his unfortunate decision.”
Under the bill adopted by the Legislature, birth parents 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 that handled their case 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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