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Finding Your Birth Parents: New Jersey Adoption Laws

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Birth Certificate

If you were born in New Jersey and you were adopted, there are state laws that allow you to obtain certain information about your birth and biological parents.

Finding out this information was not always simple. In 1940, the New Jersey government enacted laws that required the original birth certificates of children adopted on or after November 19, 1940 to be placed in a sealed file. Adoptees could only access those records under a court order. As a result, many adopted people were left wondering about their past.

The rules changed in May 2014 when Governor Chris Christie amended the vital records law to allow adult adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. Below are answers to a few common questions about New Jersey adoption laws and how they pertain to those looking for their birth record.

Who Can Obtain Original Birth Certificates?

Per New Jersey law, the following individuals may receive a copy of an adoptee’s original birth certificate:

  • An adult adoptee
  • A direct descendant of the adoptee
  • A sibling or spouse
  • An adoptive parent, legal guardian, or other legal representative
  • A New Jersey State or federal government agency for official purposes

It’s important to note that although these individuals have access to the birth certificate, this document is not open for public access.

How Do I Apply for an Uncertified Copy of an Adoptee’s Original Birth Record?

Eligible applicants can fill out the form to request a copy of an adoptee’s original birth certificate. They must then mail the completed application to the Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry (OVSR). Those requesting birth certificates cannot pick them up in person.

In addition to the application form, the OVSR must also receive proof of identity, proof of relationship, proof of name change if applicable, and payment.

Can Birth Parents Opt Out of Sharing Certain Information?

Birth parents had the opportunity to submit their request to redact information by December 31, 2016. New Jersey did not accept any birth parents’ redaction after that date.

On the other hand, New Jersey adoption laws do allow birth parents to submit to the State Registrar their contact preferences. They can indicate whether they would prefer adoptees to contact them in the following ways:

  • Direct contact
  • Contact through an intermediary
  • No contact at this time

Birth parents may indicate their contact preference at any time. To do so, they must also complete a Family History Information form. This document includes medical, cultural, and social history.

If you are an adoptee born in New Jersey or are thinking about becoming an adoptive parent, feel free to contact our firm. An adoption lawyer would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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