On May 27, 2014, amendments to the vital statistics rules in New Jersey were signed into law which provide adopted individuals with the ability to request a copy of their original birth certificate without the necessity of a court order. The requests for these birth certificates will begin being processed in January 2017.
Under the new law, an adopted individual will be provided with his or her original birth certificate listing the standard information relating to the birth parents. In the event that a birth parent does not wish to be identified, they have until the end of the year to submit redaction forms that permit the birth parent to choose what identifying information, if any, will remain visible to the adopted child. A birth parent may only redact their respective information; therefore, a birth mother cannot submit a redaction form for the birth father. Only he may do so. The redaction process is entirely voluntary; however, if a birth parent does not submit the forms by December 31, 2016 they will be unable to have their information redacted from the original birth certificate.
In addition to the redaction forms, birth parents may also provide a family history document which will be provided to the adopted child in addition to his or her original birth certificate. This document provides additional information to the child, including medical information. Birth parents are also given the option to submit a contact preference form which will allow the parent to indicate whether they would like to be contacted directly by the child, contacted by an intermediary, or no contact. This form will only be accepted by the State Registrar if the parent also submits a redaction form and medical history.
This amendment clears the way for adopted children to obtain not only the identity of their birth parents, but also makes it significantly easier for the parent and child to reconnect, so long as the parent has indicated a desire to do so on the contact preference sheet. It is important to note that all adoptions that were finalized after August 1, 2015 are not subject to the same laws, and the original birth certificates for those children will be released in their original, underacted form.