Shift In Law Will Allow Adopted Children In New Jersey To Learn Names Of Birth Parents

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — In less than four days, a seismic shift is coming to New Jersey’s adoption laws.

Most adopted children will be able to learn the names of their birth parents, but as CBS2’s Meg Baker found out, some birth parents still want to remain anonymous.

Pam Hasegawa grew up in New Jersey not knowing who her birth parents were.

“If you’re adopted it’s just a natural thing to want to know where you came from,” she said.

She leads the New Jersey Coalition for Adoption Reform which won the fight to open adoption records. The files were first sealed by law in 1940, which means parents of children adopted after August 1, 2015 can no longer remain anonymous. All records will be open.

“This change in the law is going to help thousands and thousands know the truth about themselves, give their own children and grandchildren the truth, medical information, family history, what part of the world you are from,” she said.

It’s crunch time for birth parents who still wish to remain anonymous.

“This is very important; by December 31, this Saturday, they need to come to the website, submit forms, or post mark, and mail forms,” New Jersey Health Department Policy Director, Anthony Welch said.

Because of the church’s century long role in honoring the confidentiality of birth parents — the Catholic church opposes opening records.

“Oh, we’ve opposed this for over 30 years,” Catholic Conference, Executive Director, Patrick Brannigan said. “It’s rather unfair, retroactively in 2014, to say you no longer have confidentiality, you must file a request by December 31.”

The new law was approved in 2014, but the agencies involved said it has been difficult getting the word out to birth parents.

The Catholic Conference has received hundreds of calls from many elderly parents who need help accessing paperwork.

The NJ Department of Health said more than 300 birth parents have asked not to have records opened, but those who were adopted disagree.

“For 65 years thinking I was a nice Russian, Jewish boy from Brooklyn, I found out I am really Irish Catholic,” Marty Frumkin said.

Frumkin, from Middletown, said finding out who his birth mother was is part of completing his story. More than 800 adoptees have requested records.

New Jersey joins 13 other states who also allow access. It’s unclear if the law change will encourage parents who want to give up their child, not to go through normal procedure.

New Jersey’s safe haven law still allows an individual to give up an unwanted infant safely, legally, and anonymously.

 

Comments

One Comment

  1. Poor wording in the title and within the article. CHILDREN are not receiving information. Adults (Age 18+) who were adopted are eligible to receive information. “Persons born in New Jersey and adopted within or beyond its bounds, or persons born elsewhere and adopted in New Jersey, age 18 and over, will be allowed access to a copy of their original birth certificate from January 1, 2017, forward.” Wording that emphasizes “CHILDREN” demeans and the adults who were adopted, making them perpetual children who need protection, rather than adults with full rights and responsibilities.

  2. Joan Edelman says:

    Since nj never had a mutual consent registry for all adoptees, many people sign up on isrr.org and registry.adoption.com Sign up and see if someone is looking for you.

  3. Joan Edelman says:

    Those that are reading this and is from other states can get help on fb. There are a few wonderful search and support groups that help with all the states and international too.

  4. Joan Edelman says:

    Hi, for those who are so worried, Dna is now letting people know who their biological family members are. Many states are open and no bad consequences occurred.For those that don’t want to be found, send medical history. No one wants to hurt anyone. Search and support groups stress discretion upon contacting family members.

    1. Joan Edelman says:

      For those reading this and want more information go to http://www.nj-care.org/

  5. It’s absolutely unbelievable that this is even a question. The adoption community and research has moved so far beyond the days when it was “shameful” to admit adopting/being adopted. Secrecy does a great deal of damage to people as they get to be teens and adults.

  6. Ken Lyons says:

    Do birth parents have to use their names. What happens when 1 of the birth parents doesn’t want to use their name.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by someone not wanting to use their name. Any forms sent to the NJ Dept of Health must contain the name and contact information for the person submitting the form. How else is the Dept of Health supposed to match the requester with the record?

    2. The days of biological parents being able to hide are long gone. With DNA testing all adoptees need is a couple of 3rd cousin matches from one of the major sites and we can find our biological parents. Some people may be able to get their names taken off the original birth certificate but DNA doesn’t lie. Adoptees are not going to stay as dirty little secrets.

  7. Allan Harris says:

    New York State isn’t as enlightened as New Jersey. No movement on opening the records. I finally found out that I have 15 half-siblings at the age of 67 from a DNA match. If I had known earlier I could have met my biological Mom who had been looking for me!

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