New Legislation to Reveal the Identities of Birth Parents

Birth records sealed since 1940 will be made available to as many as 175,000 people.

JR Timothy May 13, 2014
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New Jersey and many other states are beginning the process of opening the records holding the names of birth parents. For many this could mean reconciling many questions adoptees have had their entire life, and for others it could be digging up a past that they’d rather forget. This movement is to reveal the Identities of birth parents.

In an interview conducted by North Jersey’s Stephanie Akin, Bob MacNish, an adoptee who has been searching for his birth mother for 48 years, stated, “It’s important to know where you came from.  We [adoptees] don’t have a history. Our history begins the day we were adopted into a new family.”

For MacNish this means being able to discover his identity. Opponents, however, argue that unsealing the records violates privacy that the birth parents thought they’d have. They also say that for many it will make them relive what some describe as the most painful chapter of their lives. “I don’t know how somebody could feel they have that much say in someone else’s life,” said one woman who had placed her child for adoption 50 years ago and does not want to be contacted. “My trust was that this was private information. This was my information, not to be disclosed.” Many people who oppose this bill passing are afraid to speak out because they don’t want to be identified.

The bill holds a provision to protect the privacy of birth parents who have finalized adoptions before Aug. 1, 2015. Birth Parents have until the end of 2016 to file the forms stating whether they wish to be contacted directly, through an intermediary, or whether they want to stay anonymous. Birth parents choosing to stay anonymous will have their names redacted from birth records, but they will be required to provide medical histories.

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JR Timothy

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