Adoptees’ access to N.J. birth records now up to Christie

It’s now up to Gov. Chris Christie to decide whether to sign a bill that would give adoptees access to their birth certificates.

For more than 30 years, opponents have managed to kill similar efforts in New Jersey because they said parents who give up their babies should remain anonymous.

Supporters argue that, over the years, social attitudes have changed and the stigma of having a child out of wedlock has eroded.

Other adults who were adopted want to find out about their cultural identity and potential inherited health problems.

“So if there’s a history of Alzheimer’s or cervical cancer or breast cancer or something in the family, or if it’s a boy, heart disease or prostate cancer, or if there’s a prevalence in the family tree, they should know about that,” said bill sponsor Sen. Joe Vitale. “Right now they’re basically living blind and don’t know what time bomb is ticking.”

And some soldiers who were adopted want to find about their heritage and their origins before they deploy to combat duty, said Pete Franklin of Adoptees Without Liberty

“There is a disproportionate amount of adoptees that serve, and many do want to connect with their families and tell their birth families, you know what, everything turned out right,” Franklin said. “You can be proud of me and I’m healthy, but I might not be back.”

The measure would allow an adopted adult to request a birth certificated form the state Department of Health. Birth parents would be able to file documents indicating whether they want to be contacted directly, through an intermediary, or not at all

Christie conditionally vetoed similar legislation in 2011. Vitale, D-Middlesex, said he hopes to be able to work out any issues the governor has with the latest version.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.