Skip to comments.After 30 years and odd alliances, bill to open adoption records awaits NJ governor's signature
Posted on 05/20/2011 12:28:20 PM PDT by TheDingoAteMyBaby
TRENTON, N.J. Adult adoptees in New Jersey who want to find their biological parents are hoping that a three-decade battle in the Legislature over giving them access to their birth records will end with a stroke of Gov. Chris Christie's pen.
Awaiting the governor's signature is a bill that would open up state adoption records, marking a major shift for New Jersey, which has one of the most restrictive adoption records policies in the United States. The move has been fought by an unlikely alliance between legal groups who say it violates privacy concerns and anti-abortion advocates who fear it will encourage women facing unplanned pregnancies to choose abortion instead of adoption.
The bill would give future adoptees access to their original birth certificate with the names of their birth parents once they turn 18. Although birth parents could list their preference not to be contacted by the child they surrendered, adoptees won't be required to respect the preference. Parents who gave up children before the law takes effect would have one year to opt out and have names would be redacted from the certificate.
After meandering back and forth between the state Senate and General Assembly for more than 30 years, the bill finally passed on May 9. The governor has until June 23 to decide whether to sign it. Christie's office said he hasn't decided either way, but will give the bill due consideration.
Transparency in adoptions runs the gamut from places like Kansas and Alaska, where adult adoptees have ready access to their records, to New Jersey, where only a judge can unseal a child's original birth certificate once the adoption is complete even if the parents grant permission.
Just over half of states require a court order, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but in recent years many states have moved toward increased access for adoptees. New York lawmakers are currently considering such legislation.
In New Jersey, the decision is likely to involve competing priorities for the Republican governor, who has an adopted sister. The most vocal opposition has come from anti-abortion groups such as New Jersey Right to Life, who maintain that more parents will choose abortion if they know they can't cloak an adoption in guaranteed anonymity. Christie, a Roman Catholic, is opposed to abortion, but he has meticulously steered clear of divisive social issues during his first term as governor.
"With abortion, there is total anonymity, but if a woman gives her child to a loving, caring family, she doesn't deserve anonymity? What type of society makes decisions like that?" said Patrick Brannigan, who runs the New Jersey Catholic Conference and opposed the bill. Catholic Charities is a major adoption coordinator in New Jersey, and prefers reunions mediated by professional counselors over surprise phone calls from long-lost children.
Despite statistics touted by both sides, there is no solid evidence linking open adoption records with a change in abortion rates. For example, proponents point to states like Alabama and Oregon, where abortions actually went down after open records policies were instituted. But overall pregnancies also declined at similar rates during the same periods.
Over the past decade, the Catholic Conference and New Jersey Right to Life joined with the New Jersey State Bar Association and the state chapter of the ACLU in an unconventional coalition of groups that rarely find themselves on the same side of policy debates.
"The people we're fighting for are the people who can't come forward and fight about this, because it would expose them as having given up children," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU-NJ.
But the bill's backers say times have changed, stigmas have faded and secrets help no one. They argue that even if parents expected privacy, their needs should be trumped by the intrinsic rights of the adoptee.
When Dee Armstrong gave a son up for adoption in the late 1960s in Morristown, N.J., she was told the records would be closed. He came looking for her when he was 29, and while mother and son eventually decided to live separate lives, she can't imagine denying her son information about who he is.
"I don't care what someone was promised," said Armstrong, 62. "Any adult's birth mother should understand that her secrecy or confidentiality are minor to the rights of a young baby that had no say in what went on around them."
The trump card for me is the importance of a complete medical history. There is no way to provide one anonymously at the time of adoption because there is no way to know what medical advances may determine as hereditary.
I think a person has a right to know (if at all possible) who his/her parents are.
Changing that agreement later is wrong.
Except an important party to that contract was never allowed an opinion. It is what a judge would rule as unconscionable.
Then I guess you support abortion, because that would have been the decision of some of those mothers if they knew the couldn’t give up the child and move on.
This law should allow the parent, who gives up her child, to be able to have the option of not being contacted. They can wwrite down their medical history and even leave a DNA sample to ensure the child has the medical history.
I know for myself, if I had to give up a child, I’d want a complete break. Give the child a good home to grow up in. I would not want to be contacted 30 years later and, if I were contacted, I would make it clear and without doubt that it is not a happy reunion from my side.
If there is indeed such a contract, doesn't this law impair the obligation of that contract? That would violate the Contract Clause of the U.S. constitution.
Somebody please call the irony police. Roe v Wade is defended on the grounds of the personal privacy of the woman, and yet she relinquishes this "constitutional right" when the baby is born? Are people arguing this s*** with a straight face?
I don't know what good policy would look like with respect to adoption, but I do like the fact that states get to decide the matter. In theory, one could move to a more restrictive state to give birth to protect anonymity. Just like if you want an abortion you could go to a more liberal state to obtain..er...wait..never mind.
I can’t imagine giving up a child to begin with. How sad for a child to find out not only did their mother give them up, but never even cared to find out how they were doing. With someone like you, it probably would be best for the child to not know. Rejection by a parent is a terrible burden for a child to bear.
Let me put it to you this way.
If I end up with a child to care for, I’d be a better parent than most here. Daycare would not be an option and I’d do my darndest to home school them. It would not bother me in the least to be a parent 24/7. If I had to work three jobs to ensure their well being, it would be a joy, not a burden.
That alone makes me a better parent than most people, period.
Having said that, if I have to give up my child because I am incapable of caring for them, I’d choose the best parents for that child and trust them to raise them. If I have to break a relationship, the break must be complete and without regret.
Generally it is the mother who gives the information placed upon a birth cetificate. What if she names the wrong father either out of malice or through ignorance. Why should not the father be protected? Say at a later date the father has married and has a family and then without warning is presented with a spurious claim, perhaps even blackmailed?
As cruel as some may claim, this is the very reason that so many would-be adoptive parents are opting to go to a foreign country to find a child to love “as they own”. Those fortunate children become the “child of their own”.
Someone who is in the unfortunate position of having to give up an unborn child, may not be able to cope in any future with the result of “activistic meddling”, changing privacy laws, and other governmental mischief. The result, another abortion, as opposed to a living, safe, loved child.
I know personally of two sets of parents, who financed the costs of adoption by their children, PROVIDED THE CHILDREN WERE FROM EUROPE and beyond the reach of “busybody do-gooders.” The two children are now indeed “CREDITS TO THEIR PARENTS.”
In some jurisdictions, you cannot even dispute the claim through a DNA test. If you are named the father and didn’t protest, even if you weren’t aware, you’d be held responsible for child support.
That's an excuse that someone has the right to murder the only innocent party in that mess.
What needs to happen is more people being held responsible for THEIR choices. The baby never gets one.
IMO a mistake.
My DiL was adopted, grew up in a loving family.
She decided to find her birth parents and the relationship with the adopted parents and birth mother went south.
Only the biological father really accepted the contact.
My DiL was traumatized by the ordeal.
The birth mother didn’t want to be found, the adopted parents were very hurt.
The ONLY way it should be carried out is with an intermediary to contact the birth parents and find out whether they want to be contacted by the child.
The new idiotic adoption laws are one reason couples go to E.Europe, Asia for a child. Sad.
Why? I can't imagine thinking that the child would never be curious about where they came from.
The whole idea of pretending that the birth parents never existed so that the adoptive parents feel secure about the exclusive ownership of their children is a psychosis of the 19th century. For medical reasons alone, adult humans have a right to have information about their genetics and birth parents.
I didn’t get involved with it so can only guess.
Maybe they felt that she was rejecting the parents after 20 yrs of a loving upbringing.
Of course people should make the most responsible decisions they can possibly make in their lives.
Now let’s talk reality and the principle of least harm.
We are on the wrong side of paradise, so sometimes it is a reality that the best action is still not a good action, but it is the least harmful action.
It is a reality that if you put people in a position of having to regret their actions, like forcing them to contend with a child that they had to give up. Some will choose to kill the child rather than have the possiblity of the child coming back into their life at some point.
The least harmful thing to do is to allow the child to go to a good home and allow the mother and father the option of wanting to keep in contact or not and respecting their decision.
Privacy is a form of ownership and it is not my place to decide how much privacy somebody is entitled to, including my biological parents.
I don't understand the denial. I really don't. Let's pretend can end badly. And in the story you told, it did.
I know another young woman that was adopted. When her adoptive mother died, her father didn't want her. She was ignored. Finding her birth father (who wasn't told of her existence until after the adoption) has given her answers to medical questions and a father and step-mother that really DO love her. She's in heaven. Unfortunately her birth mother AND her sister had both died. But she has her Dad. Something that she hadn't experienced before.
Those people are lost causes and will make the selfish choice anyway.
The least harmful thing to do is to allow the child to go to a good home and allow the mother and father the option of wanting to keep in contact or not and respecting their decision.
People change their minds. Especially as they mature.
What is needful is to once again impress on people that babies are human beings and sex is NOT an all American pastime. Society is going down the toilet.
Sending a child to a good home is a good and mature and reponsible thing to do.
Being forced to contend with another person’s curiousity and wanting to know things you did not want them to know is not.
What is contributing to our becoming immature as a society is the inane quest to ensure that every bump and difficultyt is smoothed over and every negative happening is resolved.
It is a point of maturity when we have such a difficulty that we can accept that it isn’t to be resolved and move onto a successful life anyway, rather than go onto a lifelong quest to get it resolved.
Then they should keep their knees shut. They have a few minutes pleasure and the kid pays for it.
There's that "pie in the sky" garbage. Why in the WORLD would you think that every adoption is a good one? They aren't.
I suppose that is the proper advice one should give to a women who is impregnated by rape or a 12 year old who is the victim of incest.
I’ll keep that in mind.
What a liberal answer from a noob. That kind of lie is what keeps abortion legal. You may want to rethink posting on FR. This is a pro-life site.
You shouldn’t make it a careless decision then, should you?
You do the best that you can and then accept it.
There are plenty of biological parents who are crap, but apparently yo consider that a preferential situation than adoptive parents who are simply imperfect.
I think we would both agree that it’s a poor idea to make policy based on one bad case; good outcomes are just as easy to find. Innate fairness of providing reliable health records and allowing the child to become a party to the deal speaks to open record adoption
What I consider to be a preferential situation is more people accepting responsibility and not treating sex as a free pastime. They have a few minutes of “fun” and many people pay the consequences.
Which is why I support the right of the mother to be able to adopt out the child and not have the possiblity of the child making unwanted contact down the road. If the mother feels safe and can ensure the child goes to a good home, she’s less likely to kill it.
However, let’s do your scenario. A young pregnant girl comes to you. It is very obvious that the girl is very ill equipped to be a parent. You talk her into putting the child up for adoption. But you also inform her that she MUST be forced to allow contact, if the child wants to do so, even if it should threaten her future to do so.
I don’t see your point on how compassionate and caring and forgiving the Christian doctrine is under such circumstances. You’ll have to explain to me how the mother saved her baby’s life, found it a good, if imperfect home, but now must always be under the Sword of condemnation by the threat of future contact.
So, in your opinion, people must pay permanent consequences when they do human things?
Do you support life sentences when a person is given a parking ticket? Should they be forced to relinquish their automobile because they weren’t willing to spend a couple of extra minutes finding a proper parking place and getting the proper pass?
Remember, the first rule of thumb for Christianity is mercy and forgiveness. I do not support extrta-marital sex in any form, but we do serve the Father who extends His hand of mercy in all situations.
We need to be willing to do the same for each other.
There are consequences for actions. A child that is genetically tied to one for a lifetime is one of those consequences.
If the mother feels safe and can ensure the child goes to a good home, shes less likely to kill it.
Bull. She was being selfish and expects to continue to be so. Sex is not a toy and the consequences are real. The two players have now involved another human being into their "fun". That person also has rights.
But you also inform her that she MUST be forced to allow contact, if the child wants to do so, even if it should threaten her future to do so.
Threaten her future? Do you mean like other people finding out she was using sex as a toy and became pregnant? Why protect her from the truth? Again, the ONLY innocent person in this is the child who was NOT given any choices.
I dont see your point on how compassionate and caring and forgiving the Christian doctrine is under such circumstances.
And you are talking about what? Helping a woman to lie about actions and consequences? What's Christian about that? And I certainly did NOT bring religion into this and wonder why YOU did.
Youll have to explain to me how the mother saved her babys life, found it a good, if imperfect home
My friend Kat would certainly disagree with your classing her adoption as "imperfect". Hell would be more like it.
Are you CERTAIN you're on the right forum?
Lack of self-control is certainly a human failing. Why do you insist on protecting someone from the consequences of their choices? That's a very LIBERAL idea.
Remember, the first rule of thumb for Christianity is mercy and forgiveness.
Remember, the first rule of thumb for Christianity is
mercy and forgiveness accepting the consequences of your actions.
“But the bill’s backers say times have changed, stigmas have faded and secrets help no one. They argue that even if parents expected privacy, their needs should be trumped by the intrinsic rights of the adoptee.”
Really? What’s to stop a birth mother who is contacted (especially one who no longer lives in NJ) from saying “I don’t care what the law is, I’m not going to talk to you” and slamming the door in her child’s face? Don’t think that doesn’t happen.
Is there a provision in the law that takes deals with that? No? I didn’t think so. If there is such a provision, I didn’t read about it in my county newspaper.
Another “feel good” law from the wonderful state of NJ, signifying nothing.
Say it was not careless sex, but rape? Should she have any right to anonymity?
Some statistics report that conception as a result of rape occurs in less than one percent of cases, while other studies indicate higher figures such as 4.7%.
The adult pregnancy rate associated with rape is estimated to be 4.7%.
whose right to contract?
parents can’t waive child support, it is the property of the child.
Identity is equally the property of the child.
Never bought into that argument. Such knowledge doesn't tell you anything you can't find out from an intensive medical test.
Sorry that your friend didn’t have the perfect life. I’ve also known people, who were adopted, who insisted on finding their birth parents. When they found them, were given hell for finding them and were devastated by it.
I didn’t realize that being the victim of incest or rape were all about fun, fun, fun.
I don’t know which Bible you follow, but I follow the one where there are repeated examples of God either removing the consequences of our sinful actions or alleviating some of it.
There aren’t a whole lot of examples of God abandoning people to the entire consequences of their actions.
Christ, Himself, fully healed people while telling them to sin no more.
No. The first rule is mercy and foriveness.
The first thing God did after man sinned was set the plan of salvation in place.
You keep pushing liberal talking points. Pregnancy by incest and rape is rare. Most abortion and adoptions are because of casual sex. Quit trying to make this into something it isn't.
There arent a whole lot of examples of God abandoning people to the entire consequences of their actions.
Really? We live in a fallen world because of WHOSE actions? Christ died because of WHOSE choices? The whole earth is cursed because TWO people decided NOT to listen.
God excuses sin when you ASK. That does NOT mean there will not still be consequences. Name a sin that is “undone” simply because God forgave the person. Consequences STILL exist. And where does He tell you to turn your back on a child born because someone didn’t say “No”.
You didn’t turn your back on a child when you gave it up for adoption to a good family. You fulfilled your obligation as best you can.
If you have given up a child for adoption, you have fulfilled your obligation to that child. By allowing it to be adopted, you are also agreeing to give up rights to that child’s development and well-being.
It is a selfish act to, once the adoption has taken place, make a claim on that child’s development and well-being.
A child is innocent and born of the actions of two people that made choices. The child had none. And yet YOU want to protect the two CHOOSING adults from the consequences of their choices, which is acknowledging the ONLY innocent in the whole thing. Two people make a wrong choice and the one born of it lives with the consequences while the two hide and pretend they did nothing and it never happened. Appalling.
No. You've given your responsibility to someone else to raise. I'm not against adoption but lets at least be honest here. The baby is given up for adoption because Mom and Dad can't or won't raise it.
It is a selfish act to, once the adoption has taken place, make a claim on that childs development and well-being.
This is about children searching for their birth parents.
It’s a two way street. The child’s history is his adopted family, not the biological parents.
When a child is adopted, that is who he belongs to.
That is not selfishness. To try and be involved in his life beyond that point is a clear contravening of the tenth commandment, covetousness.
Again, this isn't about biologicals looking for their children. It is about adoptees looking for their biological parents.
Btw, way to twist a commandment!
The tenth commandment is about the principle of ownership. Your children are yours. The children you gave up are not yours.
My biology is mine, not somebody I gave up.
What you do not ubderstand, or like at least, is that if I give up my child for adoption, the break is complete. He has no claims to me, my biology, or anything about me, nor do I have claim to him.
If a child wants to meet his sperm and egg donor, that is their business. But if somebody wants to meet somebody, but the other person doesn’t want to meet that is also their business.