[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 611

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2008 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington and Camden)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Singer, Buono, Adler, Weinberg, Ciesla, Cunningham and Van Drew

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Permits adopted person and certain others access to adopted personís original birth certificate and other related information.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As reported by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on January 24, 2008, with amendments.

††


An Act concerning adoptees, amending R.S.26:8-40.1, 1and1 supplementing Titles 9 and 26 of the Revised Statutes 1[and making an appropriation]1.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† R.S.26:8-40.1† is amended to read as follows:

†††† 26:8-40.1.† a.† 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.† In any instance where the child has been adopted by the spouse of the natural parent the name of such parent shall also be entered on the new certificate of birth.† Such certificate shall be of the same general type as is used in making a birth certificate for a person who has not been adopted.

†††† [Upon application by an adopting parent or parents of any person born in the United States and adopted pursuant to the laws of this State, the court before which the adoption proceedings have been conducted, may, for good cause shown, direct and order that the place of birth shall be the residence of the adopting parent or parents at the time of said adoption; provided, however, that the adopting parent or parents were residents of this State at the time of said adoption.]

†††† Upon receipt of [such application,] a certification or a certified copy of the decree or judgment of a court in an adoption proceeding, the State Registrar shall make a new certificate of birth containing the information referred to in the preceding paragraph.† The fee for such service shall be [$6.00 which includes the issuance of a certified copy of the new certificate] established by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, by regulation.

†††† The State Registrar may file such a new certificate:

†††† [a.] (1) for any foundling, for any child born in any state, and for any child for whom an original birth report cannot be located, who has been adopted in New Jersey; provided that there is attached to the decree or judgment of the court in such adoption proceeding or is submitted to the State Registrar a certified copy of the original birth record or acceptable evidence of birth.† In the case of a foundling, the date and place of birth [may] shall be decided [by the adopting parent or† parents if not decided by the court before which the adoption proceedings were conducted] by a court of competent jurisdiction; and

†††† [b.] (2)† for any child born in a foreign country who was not a citizen of the United States at the time of the child's birth, whose adopting parent is a resident of this State, and who is adopted: [(1)] (a) through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State; or [(2)] (b) under the laws of a jurisdiction or country other than the United States and has been granted an IR-3 immigrant visa, or a successor immigrant visa, by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new certificate shall be filed upon receipt of: a request for the certificate from the court, the adopting parent, or the adopted person if that person is 18 years of age or older; proof that the adopting parent is a resident of this State; an official copy of the judgment from the jurisdiction or country in which the child was adopted; a certified translation of the foreign adoption; proof of the date and place of the child's birth; and proof of IR-3 immigrant visa status, or a successor immigrant visa status.

†††† When applicable, the State Registrar may file a new certificate for any child who is not a citizen of the United States and who is adopted by a resident of this State, which certificate shall bear the notation "by adoption," which shall also be shown upon any copy of the certificate issued; such notation may be removed at any subsequent date upon submission of acceptable proof that the child has become a citizen of the United States.

†††† When a new certificate of birth is made, the State Registrar shall notify the local registrar of vital statistics of the place in which the birth occurred, if applicable, who shall enter the new certificate in his local record and place his copy of the original record under seal with the State Registrar.

†††† b.††† The State Registrar shall cause to be placed under seal the original certificate of birth and all papers pertaining to the new certificate of birth.† Such seal shall not be broken except by:

†††† (1) order of a court of competent jurisdiction; or

†††† (2) a written, notarized request for an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person's original certificate of birth, which complies with existing statutory and executive orders to allow the identification of the requested information, submitted by:

†††† (a) the adopted person 18 years of age or older,

†††† (b) a direct descendant 18 years of age or older of the adopted person if the adopted person is deceased, or

†††† (c) the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person.

†††† c.†††† Thereafter whenever a certification or certified copy of a certificate of birth of such person is issued, it shall be made from the new certificate of birth except when an order of a court of competent jurisdiction shall require the issuance of [a] an uncertified, long-form copy of the original certificate of birth, or upon a written, notarized request for an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person's original certificate of birth, as provided in subsection b. of this section, excluding any statistical data gathered solely for the use of the State.

(cf:† P.L.2005, c.81, s.3)

 

†††† 2.††† (New section) a.† 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.

†††† 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.†

†††† c.†††† At any time following the request for nondisclosure, the birth parent may rescind the request and the State Registrar shall provide the identifying information concerning the birth parent to the adopted person, direct descendant or adoptive parent or guardian, upon request.

†††† d.††† The State Registrar shall match the request for nondisclosure and family history form with the adopted person's original certificate of birth and retain the documents in the adopted person's original certificate of birth file.


†††† e.†††† Notwithstanding the requirements of this section to the contrary, in the case of a child who was surrendered pursuant to P.L.2000, c.58 (C.30:4C-15.5 et seq.) and upon receipt of notification from the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families pursuant to subsection f. of this section, the State Registrar shall deem that the birth parent of the child has requested nondisclosure and shall not provide the birth parent's name or home address, if the name or address is recorded on the child'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 R.S.26:8-40.1.

†††† f.†††† The Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families shall notify the State Registrar when a child is surrendered pursuant to P.L.2000, c.58 (C.30:4C-15.5 et seq.) to enable the Registrar to identify the certificate of birth of the child who was so surrendered and deem that the birth parent of the child has requested nondisclosure, as provided in subsection e. of this section.

 

†††† 3.††† (New section) a.† Upon receipt of a written, notarized request pursuant to subsection b. of† R.S.26:8-40.1, the State Registrar shall provide the authorized requester with an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person's original certificate of birth.† The State Registrar shall include with the copy of the certificate of birth a statement recommending that the requester contact the approved agency or attorney who facilitated the adoption prior to seeking contact with the adopted person's birth parent, and such other information as specified in sections 4 and 6 of P.L.††† , c.   (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

†††† b.††† If the birth parent of the adopted person has submitted a request for nondisclosure pursuant to section 2 of P.L.†† , c.     (C.      )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), the State Registrar shall delete the name and home address of the birth parent from the uncertified, long form copy of the original certificate of birth, and provide a copy of the family history form submitted by the birth parent with the certificate of birth.

†††† c.†††† The fee for the uncertified, original long-form certificate of birth preceding an adoption shall be established by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, by regulation.

 

†††† 4.††† (New section) a.† 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.

†††† b.††† The document of contact preference shall be established by the State Registrar, who shall provide a copy of the document to a birth parent, upon request.† The State Registrar shall also make the document available for downloading from the official website of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

†††† c.†††† The State Registrar shall require a birth parent who submits a document of contact preference pursuant to this section to complete a form providing updated family history information, which includes medical, cultural and social history information regarding the birth parent.

†††† d.††† The document of contact preference shall provide the birth parent with the following options from which the parent may select one:

†††† (1) "I would like to be contacted directly.† I have completed a document of contact preference and an updated family history form and am submitting them to the State Registrar as set forth in this document";

†††† (2) "I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary.† I have completed a document of contact preference and an updated family history form and am submitting them to the State Registrar as set forth in this document. I would like the following named individual to act as an intermediary __________"; or

†††† (3) "I would prefer not to be contacted at this time. If I decide later that I would like to be contacted, I will submit a revised document of contact preference to the State Registrar. I have completed a document of contact preference and an updated family history form and am submitting them to the State Registrar as set forth in this document."

†††† e.†††† 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.

†††† f.†††† The State Registrar shall match the completed document of contact preference and family history form with the adopted person's original certificate of birth and retain the documents in the adopted person's original certificate of birth file.

†††† g.† Upon written, notarized request for an uncertified long-form copy of an adopted person's original certificate of birth pursuant to subsection b. of R.S.26:8-40.1, the State Registrar shall also provide the authorized requester with a copy of the birth parent's document of contact preference and the updated family history information, if such a document or information has been submitted to the State Registrar pursuant to this section.

 

†††† 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.

†††† b.††† In the event that the adopted person was under the custody of the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families at the time of the person's adoption, the person may request from the director of the division a statement, based on the division's case file, that summarizes the circumstances under which parental rights for the child were terminated.

†††† c.†††† Nothing in this act shall be construed to require the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Children and Families to provide any identifying information about the birth parents of a child who was surrendered pursuant to the provisions of the "New Jersey Safe Haven Protection Act," P.L.2000, c.58 (C.30:4C-15.5 et seq.).

 

†††† 6.††† (New section) a. The State Registrar, through the Department of Health and Senior Services, shall prepare information regarding counseling resources and the use of an intermediary for the purpose of enabling an adopted person to make contact with a birth parent. The information shall also include the procedure for contacting the Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services as provided in subsection b. of section 5 of P.L.††† , c.††† (C.††††† )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).

†††† b.††† The State Registrar shall provide the information prepared pursuant to subsection a. of this section to a person who requests an uncertified, long-form copy of a birth certificate pursuant to subsection b. of R.S.26:8-40.1 or the document of contact preference.

†††† c.†††† The State Registrar shall make the information prepared pursuant to subsection a. of this section available on the official website of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

 

†††† 7.††† (New section)† a. A person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or agency that has placed a child for adoption shall not be liable in any civil or criminal action for damages resulting from information provided by the State Registrar pursuant to this act.


†††† b.††† An employee, agent or officer of the Department of Health and Senior Services who is authorized by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to disclose information relating to the certification of birth pursuant to this act, shall not be liable for:

†††† (1) disclosing information based on a written, notarized request submitted in accordance with this act; and

†††† (2) any error or inaccuracy in the information that is disclosed after receipt of a written, notarized request submitted in accordance with this act, and any consequence of that error or inaccuracy.

 

†††† 8.††† (New section) Within two years after the date of enactment of this act, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of† Children and Families, shall provide to the Legislature in accordance with section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and make available to the public, a report on the development and administration of the initiatives established pursuant to sections 2 through 6 of this act.† The report shall include, but not be limited to, statistical, non-identifying data regarding:

†††† a.†††† the number of uncertified, long-form copies of original birth certificates that were provided to adopted persons, the direct descendants of deceased adopted persons, and the adoptive parents or guardians of minor adopted persons;

†††† b.††† the number of requests for nondisclosure submitted by birth parents;

†††† c.†††† the number of requests submitted by birth parents, through the† document of contact preference, for direct contact, contact by an intermediary, and no contact, respectively; and

†††† d.††† the number of family history forms submitted by birth parents.

†††† The report shall also make recommendations for any needed changes in the requirements, regulations or State policy concerning the initiatives established by this act.

 

†††† 9.††† (New section) The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of Children and Families, shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), which shall:

†††† a.†††† establish required information and procedures for the request for nondisclosure and the document of contact preference;

†††† b.††† establish required information and procedures for the family history form and the form to update family history information; and

†††† c.†††† establish a nominal fee for services provided under this act, to meet the costs of implementing this act.

 

†††† 10.† (New section) The Department of Health and Senior Services shall contract with media outlets throughout the country to produce and distribute national public service messages to increase public awareness of and encourage participation in the initiatives established pursuant to this act.† The public service messages shall inform the public of the procedures for: obtaining a long-form copy of an adopted person's birth certificate; requesting nondisclosure; submitting a document of contact preference; and submitting family history information.

 

†††† 1[11.† There is appropriated $90,000 from the General Fund to the Department of Health and Senior Services for the purpose of providing public service messages pursuant to section 10 of this act.]1

 

†††† 1[12.] 11.1† This act shall take effect immediately, except that sections 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 shall take effect one year after the date of enactment, but the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services may take such administrative action in advance of the effective date as shall be necessary for the implementation of the act.