New Jersey Opened its Adoption Records Last Year. Here’s What Happened.

Adoption laws are regulated by each state, which means laws and regulations vary state to state. One important regulation is concerns adoption documents: What information can be released, and to whom?

In New Jersey an important act was passed last year that enables adoptees to obtain key information. The New Jersey Birthright Act allows adoption birth records to be open, and adult adoptees are now allowed to request their original birth certificates.

This is a major step in allowing many who were adopted to obtain information about their heritage and birth. A local news article stated that thousands have requested their original birth certificates; however, there are 300,000 birth records still waiting to be retrieved.

A person can gain a lot of information from their original birth certificate. At a minimum, they can learn the place and time of their birth and the mother’s nationality. But, also they can often learn their biological mother’s full name and biological father’s name, if included on the birth certificate.

One of the thousands that requested an original birth certificate was Bob MacNish. At age 22, he was told that he was adopted by his dying father. He spent the next 50 years searching, but only recently was he able to meet his 95-year-old biological mother and biological sister because of the New Jersey Birthright Act.

Another person benefiting from the Act is Theresa Carroll.  She wanted to find out about any medical concerns in her biological family that could be responsible for her chronic pain.

While it is positive that many people are able to gain and learn additional information, it is also important to remember that new reunions  and new communications with biological family may not always be positive. Reunion may come with many emotions, positive and negative, and it may be a long road to build a relationship. However, Kimberly, an adoptee and social worker stated, “All persons deserve to know the truth of their origins. This is restoration of human rights.”