Starting in January 2017, adopted people in New Jersey will finally be able to request copies of their birth records from the state.
It took 34 years of tireless effort and lobbying, but now an open birth records law in New Jersey that will allow adopted people to access their original birth certificates will be a reality next month. Adopted people from New Jersey will be able to see the information on their original birth records, including the names of their biological parents, family medical history and birth name.
Although New Jersey’s open birth records law was signed by Governor Chris Christie in 2014, it did not go into effect until 2017 in order to allow enough time for the law to be publicized so that birth parents could request that their names be removed from the records.
Any birth parents that want to have their names redacted from birth records must make a request through the New Jersey State Health Commissioner by December 31st, 2016. Any redaction requests received after that deadline will be denied.
New Jersey has a total of 170,000 sealed birth records from adoptions for the years 1940 through 2015. Birth records from 2016 on will not be sealed under the new law.
So far, the state health commissioner has received almost 500 requests from adopted people for copies of their birth records. They have also received almost 200 requests from birth parents to have their names redacted from the records.
There are currently eight states where birth records are open for adopted people: Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Of course a lot of adopted people are not waiting for the laws to change in their state before finding their birth families. It is now possible to find your biological parents and family through commercial DNA testing services like Ancestry DNA and 23andMe. There are always stories about how adopted people have found their birth parents and biological families using these increasingly popular DNA testing services.