Some parents want to retain a link to their children when they give them up for adoption, but the majority of biological parents have valid reasons for fully breaking the connection and remaining anonymous to the children. At the same time, adopted children have equally valid reasons for learning about their biological parents.
In May, 2014, Gov. Christie made changes to the Vital Statistics Act that strike a balance between the information needs of children and potential privacy needs of birth parents. Affected individuals should take steps now to learn how to prepare for the changes, which go into effect as of January 2017.
An Understanding of the Law Allows All Parties to Prepare
For adoptees, preparing for the changes largely involves watching for appropriate request forms to appear on the State of New Jersey Department of Health website. Birth parents, on the other hand, need to use forms that are available now to protect their privacy before the law goes into effect. The first step is to understand the main provisions of the Act, which are as follows:
- Adult adoptees will soon be able to request non-certified copies of their original birth certificates. These documents cannot be used to prove identity or citizenship, and they do not substitute for the official birth certificate issued at the finalization of adoption.
- Adult adoptees are not the only parties who can request a copy of the original birth certificate. The provisions also apply to direct descendants, siblings or spouses of the adoptees, along with their adoptive parents, legal guardians or other legal representatives.
- Each birth parent has the right to redact his or her own identifying information from the certificate before it becomes available to the child. They also have the right to state their contact preferences, which are accepted by the state only when they also submit a completed Family History Information form, which makes medical, cultural and social history information available to their biological children.
The bottom line is that biological parents who want to protect their privacy rights need to act prior to the end of 2016 — before their children have the right to request their birth certificates.
Why Birth Parents Should Consider Legal Advice
Birth parents who wish to avail themselves of full privacy options must accurately complete forms containing 12 pages of information. Failure to complete the right combination of forms or provide enough information could potentially result in surprises once adoptee birth certificates become available in 2017.
At Riordan Family Law, we keep current on all laws and forms related to adoptions, and we have a clear understanding of how the Vital Statistics Act changes can affect biological parents and their offspring. To help ensure that all required forms are completed accurately, call an experienced Denville adoption attorney or use our convenient online contact form.