New Jersey Original Birth Certificates
Now Open to Adoptees
By Melissa A. Johnson, CG, Trustee, The Genealogical Society of New Jersey
Reprinted from the GSNJ Newsletter, Volume 25, Numbers 3–4, Fall–Winter 2016.
As of 1 January 2017, adoptees born in New Jersey are able to obtain uncertified copies of their original birth certificates identifying their birth parent or parents. These records are now open to adoptees as a result of new legislation, passed after 34 years of lobbying, which was signed into effect by Governor Chris Christie in 2014. The new law included a three-year waiting period, in order to give birth parents the opportunity to request anonymity. (Birth parents had until 31 December 2016 to have their names redacted from the birth records, and had to submit medical, cultural and social history along with the request.)
Original birth certificates are available to adult adoptees and their direct descendants, siblings, spouses, adoptive parents, and legal guardians or representatives. Applicants must complete this form (www.nj.gov/health/forms/reg-41.pdf) and pay a $25 fee to the New Jersey Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Adoptees must supply proof of identity in the form of a photo ID along with the application.
While the new legislation makes original birth certificates available to certain parties, it does not open the adoption records. Adoption records from November 1940 and later are sealed in New Jersey. Pre-November 1940 adoption records are open and available from the surrogate’s office in the county where the adoption took place.
For more information, see the State of New Jersey, Department of Health’s website, “New Records System For Birth Parents, Adult Adoptees,” at www.nj.gov/health/vital/adoption/.
Below: Birth records for adoptees at the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry in Trenton. (NJ Department of Health.)
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