Legislation sponsored by New Jersey State Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) to allow adults who were adopted to obtain their birth certificates was advanced by the full Senate on Thursday. Birth certificates for residents who were adopted have been sealed in New Jersey for more than 70 years. The records were sealed to protect the adoptee and the adoptive family from interference by the biological parents.
“It’s now clear that these closed records condemn adoptees to an inferior standing in our state,” said Allen, who has worked to change the state’s law for 17 years. “Their civil rights are being violated by not allowing them to know basic information about their beginnings, their medical background, who their parents are or any siblings they may have – information the rest of us are allowed and take for granted.
“Adults should have the right to choose for themselves whether they want to know more about their family history,” Allen added.
Allen’s S2814 allows those 18 years old or over who were adopted to obtain their original birth certificate. The adopted person would also be able to receive all available information concerning their family history and their birth parents’ contact preferences.
Under the bill, birth parents can file paperwork as to whether in the future they prefer to be contacted directly by the child, through an intermediary or not at all
“Unfortunately for years we have been treating adopted adults as second-class citizens because of life circumstances out of their control,” Allen said. “None of us have a choice as to the family we were born in to but, as adults; we should have a choice in learning about our family’s identity and medical history.”