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NJ adoptees closer to getting medical histories

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Adoptees in New Jersey are a step closer to having access to their medical histories and birth records. The Assembly Human Services Committee moved the bill — which would establish a system to allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates and family medical history — to the full Assembly. The Senate already has adopted the measure.

“We’ve heard many heartfelt stories about the need for adoptees to access their birth records simply because they are facing a crisis and need to know more about their family medical history,” said co-sponsor Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

“This is information that many of us take for granted, but adoptees often cannot access through new fault of their own. This is a compassionate plan to help many adoptees simply learn more about themselves.”

“This is the moral thing to do for adoptees who, because of these historic barriers, are left in the dark about key family medical histories and their backgrounds,” said Joan Voss (D-Bergen).

EDITOR’S NOTE : Adopted as an infant by my stepfather, I know only one side of my medical history. I now have a son, and I consider it my responsibility to him to have accurate information so that the best possible health care decisions can be made for him.

Under the bill, the birth parents of individuals put forward for adoption in New Jersey would have one year from the enactment of regulations to submit a request to the state registrar for non-disclosure.

During this year, adoptees would be able to contact the adoption agency they came from to get non-identifying medical information, including a family medical history, alerting them to any genetic predispositions they may carry for certain types of illnesses.

After birth parents have had an opportunity to opt out of disclosure, an adopted person 18 years of age or older, an adult direct descendant of an adopted person if that person is deceased, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person, would be able to request from the State Registrar a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate.

Birth parents would be required, after the year allotted for them to opt-out, to submit a preference form for how they would like to be contacted: either directly, through an intermediary or not at all.

If the birth parents choose not to be contacted, they would have to submit medical and cultural information which would be provided to an adoptee when they receive a redacted version of their birth certificate.

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