Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reviewing the NJ Adoptee Records Legislation

The proposed bill, S799, is available here.

The following is a follow-up to an earlier post: NJ BIll Adoptee Access Passes The Senate Committee

Existing: When any person born in New Jersey who has been adopted pursuant to provisions of the laws of any state or country, and which adoption has been certified to the State Registrar as required by [paragraph B of section 15 of P.L.1953, c.264 (C.9:3-31)] subsection b. of section 16 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-52) or there is submitted a certification or a certified copy of the decree or judgment of the court in such adoption proceedings, the State Registrar shall establish, in lieu of the original birth record, a certificate of birth showing (a) the name of the adopted person as changed by the decree of adoption, if changed, (b) the date and place of birth, (c) the names of the adopting parents or parent including the maiden name of the female adopting parent if such name is given in the certification or certified copy of the decree or judgment of the court, and (d) the date of filing.

Proposed: During the 12-month period beginning on the date of adoption of regulations by the Department of Health and Senior Services to carry out the purposes of this act, a birth parent of a person adopted prior to the date of enactment of this act may submit to the State Registrar a written, notarized request for nondisclosure or may make such a request to the State Registrar in person. The request for nondisclosure shall prohibit the State Registrar from providing the birth parent's name and home address, as recorded on the adopted person's birth certificate, upon receipt of a written, notarized request for an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person's original certificate of birth pursuant to subsection b. of R.S.26:8-40.1 from an adopted person, direct descendant or adoptive parent or guardian authorized by that statute to make such a request.

This decsion MAY BE rescinded at any time.

b.    The State Registrar shall acknowledge, by mail, or if the request is made in person, at the time the request is made, receipt of the request for nondisclosure and shall enclose with the receipt a family history form requesting medical, cultural and social history regarding the birth parent, which the State Registrar shall require the birth parent to complete to the best of the parent's knowledge and return to the State Registrar within 60 days.  The birth parent may update the family history form, as necessary.  Failure of a birth parent to complete the form and return it within 60 days, upon requesting nondisclosure, shall nullify the birth parent's request for nondisclosure.

A birth parent of an adopted person may submit a document of contact preference to the State Registrar indicating the birth parent's preference regarding contact with the adopted person.  The birth parent may change his preference at any time by submitting a revised document of contact preference to the State Registrar.

The State Registrar shall request a birth parent who indicates a preference for no contact by the adopted person to update the family history information every 10 years until the birth parent reaches the age of 40, and every five years thereafter.

5.    (New section) a.  An adopted person 18 years of age or older, a direct descendant 18 years of age or older of the adopted person if the adopted person is deceased, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person may obtain from an approved agency or the attorney who facilitated the adoption any family history information concerning the adopted person that is contained in that person's adoption file, upon submission of a written, notarized request to the agency or attorney.

Prior to providing any identifying information about a birth parent or the parent's family, the agency or attorney, as applicable, shall contact the State Registrar to receive written notification if the birth parent has submitted a request for nondisclosure.  If such a request has been submitted, the agency or attorney shall not disclose any identifying information about the birth parent or the parent's family.
     As used in this section, "family history information" includes medical, cultural and social history information provided by the adopted person's birth parent and maintained by an approved agency or attorney who facilitated an adoption.

I beseech those working to craft this legislation to exclude this violation of HIPPA law and our privacy.  Mothers who lost our children to adoption want them to have rights EQUAL to all other non-adopted citizens. We want them to have access ot their original birth certificates, but they have no right to any information provided by us to our agency workers. THAT is confidential and must remain so. Know our names, know us. Ask us what you want to know. But not this!

I want to add that when I questioned the NJ adoption reformers working on this I was misled and told that it applied only to a "post-1979 law which made it mandatory to get whatever family medical history (diabetes? coronary disease? cancer?) the birth parent/s was/were willing to share." I see no such limitation or mention of any specific form in this proposed legislation. I see a door open to ALL records the agency has on us!  Not fair game. Not equality. Sorry.

What do YOU thinK? What information about you are you comfortable with the agency sharing with your child? What about if you were dead?


maryanne said...

I personally do not care what the agency or court or anyone else shares with my child, but that is all moot as I have already told him everything.

I would worry about personal information going not to my child but to some state intermediary or file where any number of people could see it.

You have hit on one of the many reasons that this bill is bad, but they are legion. You are right in saying it is not about equality. Nor is it an "adoptee birthright bill" as it has been called. The birthright is the original birth certificate which adoptees should be able to request and obtain with no restrictions. Agency and medical records on their parents are not a part of anyone's "birthright".

This is a terrible bill and if its supporters had real integrity they would pull it and start over clean and simple. But they will not.

AdoptAuthor said...

Obviously, for myself personally it is more than moot since my daughter has passed away. But my concerns about adoption policies have never been just about myself.

Mothers who relinquished are human beings. The only right we gave up is our right to raise our children. We did not give up our rights as citizens of this country and thus protection by the laws of the land such as HIPPA. Those laws are there for good reason.

Now, in likelihood, our kids' aps already know FAR more about us than we were told about them. But it is still a principle.

The children I raised do not have access to files kept on me from my "misspent" youth - why should the child I relinquished?

I want adoptees to have what they deserve: access to their OBC. Then they can contact their mothers and their mother can share what she chooses, just as one does with ANY of our children, adopted or not.

Those records reveal nothing of medical rleevance because what did we know of our family - or even our own medical history at the ages we were then?

I believe that they want this in so they can find our everything about us WITHOUT HAVING TO meet us! But, we'll see. I don't want to pre-judge. Pam has turned my issues over to her "team."

maryanne said...

Well gee, you asked what "you" would feel comfortable having the agency share with your kid,and I answered. That hardly means I do not care what happens to other mothers or adoptees!

Pam is a woman of sterling integrity. I can't say as much for "the team" most of whom I do not know but their works speak ill of them in what they have allowed to happen to this bill. It is not a matter of pre-judging, the bill stinks. It is out there for all to see.

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RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

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