On Tuesday, May 27, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law that allows adoptees access to their original birth certificates effective January 1, 2017. Under the amended law, N.J.S.A. 26:8-40.1, adoptees will be able to request an “uncertified, long-form copy of their original birth certificate from the state registrar,” unlike the present law which requires a court order for access to birth records. According to Michael Symons’s article, others, such as direct descendents of the adopted person; a spouse; a sibling; adoptive parents; a legal representative of the adopted person; and state and federal agencies will also be able to request access to the adopted person’s original birth certificate.
In addition, the medical history of the biological parents will be available to the adoptee. The amended law requires that birth mothers fill out a form detailing medical conditions or illnesses that the adopted person may be susceptible to later in life. To protect the privacy interests of the birth parents, the law allows three different options to collect medical information: 1) a direct contact; 2) a confidential third party contact; or 3) access to medical records only. Those who opt for the third choice are encouraged to update the Health Department with medical history every ten years until the age of 40, and then every five years after that.
The passage of this law is a huge victory for adoption activists. Adoptees will now be able to have the knowledge and information of their biological background and medical history that was previously unknown to them.