[Second Reprint]

SENATE, No. 873

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2014 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator  DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington)

Senator  LORETTA WEINBERG

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblyman  VINCENT PRIETO

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblyman  DAVID W. WOLFE

District 10 (Ocean)

Assemblywoman  ANGELICA M. JIMENEZ

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblyman  JON M. BRAMNICK

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Gordon, Ruiz, Assemblyman Johnson, Assemblywoman Jasey, Assemblyman Singleton, Assemblywoman Tucker, Assemblyman McKeon, Assemblywomen Mosquera, Oliver and Assemblyman O'Scanlon

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Permits adoptees and certain others to obtain adoptee’s original birth certificate and other related information.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As amended on May 12, 2014 by the Senate pursuant to the Governor's recommendations.

  


An Act concerning adoptees, amending P.L.1977, c.367 and R.S.26:8-40.1, and supplementing Titles 9 and 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 15 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-51) is amended to read as follows:

     15.  The clerk of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part shall promptly file all judgments of adoption and shall maintain an alphabetical index of all judgments of adoption entered each year pursuant to P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-37 et seq.), all of which records shall be sealed and thereafter shall be made accessible only by court order or as otherwise provided by law

(cf: P.L.1993, c.345, s.14) 

 

     2.    Section 16 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-52) is amended to read as follows:

     16.  a.    All court records of proceedings relating to adoption, including the complaint, judgment, and all petitions, affidavits, testimony, reports, briefs, orders, and other relevant documents, shall be filed under seal by the clerk of the court and shall at no time be open to 2[public]2 inspection or copying unless the court, upon good cause shown, shall otherwise order or as otherwise provided by law.  An index to all adoption proceedings shall be maintained by the clerk of the court, but no index of adoption proceedings shall be open to inspection or copying or be made public except upon order of the court. 

     b.    Upon entry of a judgment of adoption, the clerk of the court shall certify to the State Registrar, any successor agency or any similar agency in the State or country of the child's birth, the date of entry of the judgment, the names of the adopting parent or parents, the name of the child, the date and place of birth of the child, and the new name of the child if changed by the judgment of adoption. 

(cf:  P.L.1993, c.345, s.15)

 

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

     26:8-40.1.  Ua.U  When any person 1[born in New Jersey who has been] UisU1 adopted pursuant to provisions of the laws of any state or country, and 1[which] UtheU1 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)] Usubsection b. of section 16 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-52)U or there is submitted a certification or a certified copy of the decree or judgment of the court in [such] UtheU adoption proceedings, the State Registrar shall establish, in lieu of the original birth record, a certificate of birth showing [(a)]U: (1)U the name of the adopted person as changed by the decree of adoption, if changed [, (b)]U; (2)U the date and place of birth [, (c)]U; (3)U the names of the adopting parents or parent, including the maiden name of the female adopting parent if [such] UthatU name is given in the certification or certified copy of the decree or judgment of the court[,]; and [(d)] U(4)U the date of filing.  In any instance where the child has been adopted by the spouse of the natural parent, the name of [such] UtheU parent shall also be entered on the new certificate of birth.  [Such] UTheU certificate Uof birthU 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 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] UthisU service shall be [$6.00 which includes the issuance of a certified copy of the new certificate] Uestablished by the Commissioner of Health, by regulationU.

     Ub.U    The State Registrar may file [such a] UtheU new certificate:

     [a.]  U(1)U  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] UshallU be decided by [the adopting parent or parents if not decided by the court before which the adoption proceedings were conducted] Ua court of competent jurisdictionU; and

     [b.] U(2)U  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)] U(a)U through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State; or [(2)] U(b)U 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,"] U“certificate of foreign birth,”U which shall also be shown upon any copy of the certificate issued; [such] UtheU 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] Uthe local registrar’sU local record and [place his] Uforward theU copy of the original record [under seal] Uto the State Registrar for dispositionU.

     Uc.U    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]:

     U(1)  byU order of a court competent jurisdictionU; or

     U(2)  upon a request for an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person’s original certificate of birth by a person 18 years of age or older who can establish himself as one of the following:

     U(a)   the adopted person;

     U(b)  a direct descendant, sibling, or spouse of the adopted person;

     U(c)   an adoptive parent, legal guardian, or other legal representative of the adopted person; or

     U(d)  an agency of the State or federal government for official purposes.

     UThe State Registrar shall authenticate the identity of the requestor and the requestor’s relationship with the subject adopted personU.

     Ud.U    Thereafter, whenever a Ucertification or certified copy of aU certificate of birth of [such] Uthe adoptedU 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] Uan uncertified, long-formU copy of the original certificate of birthU, or upon a request for an uncertified, long-form copy of the adopted person's original certificate of birth by an authorized requestor, as provided in subsection c. of this section, excluding any statistical data gathered solely for the use of the StateU.

(cf:  P.L.2005, c.81, s.3)

 

     4.    (New section)  a.  Upon receipt of a request pursuant to subsection c. 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 2[.  The State Registrar shall include with the copy of the certificate of birth a statement recommending that the requester contact the approved agency or intermediary who facilitated the adoption prior to seeking contact with the adopted person's birth parent, and such other information as is specified in sections 5 and 7 of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)] in accordance with the provisions of P.L.    c,   (C.       )(pending before the Legislature a this bill).2

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

 

     5.    (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 State Registrar shall require a birth parent who submits a document of contact preference pursuant to this section to simultaneously submit a completed form providing updated family history information, which shall include medical, cultural, and social history information regarding the birth parent.

     c.    The form of the contact preference document and the form of the family history information document shall be established by the State Registrar, who shall provide a copy of each document to a birth parent, upon request.  The State Registrar shall also make the documents available for downloading from the Department of Health website.

     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 information document 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 information document 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 information document 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 maintain a file of documents of contact preference and family history information submitted by birth parents.  Upon request for an original certificate of birth pursuant to subsection c. of R.S.26:8-40.1, the State Registrar shall determine whether there is on file a document of contact preference and a family history information document regarding the adopted person, and if those documents exist, shall place and retain them in the adopted person's original certificate of birth file.

     g.    Upon a request for an uncertified, long-form copy of an adopted person's original certificate of birth pursuant to subsection c. 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 document if those documents have been submitted to the State Registrar pursuant to this section.

     h.    The State Registrar shall provide to an authorized requester, upon request, any information subsequently added to an adopted person’s certificate of birth file.  The State Registrar may establish a system to inform authorized requesters in the event that new information is added to an adopted person’s certificate of birth file.

     2i.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, in the case of a person adopted prior to August 1, 2015, a birth parent may submit a request for redaction of name and other identifying information of the birth parent to the State Registrar on or before December 31, 2016 that provides that the name and other identifying information of the birth parent shall be redacted in response to a request pursuant to R.S.26:8-40.1, section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.      )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), or this section.  At any time following the request for redaction, the birth parent may rescind the redaction request and the State Registrar shall provide the identifying information concerning the birth parent.  The State Registrar shall retain a copy of the revised request for redaction and
share the information based on the revised request for redaction document in accordance with the provisions of this section.
2

 

     2[6. (New section)  a.  An adopted person 18 years of age or older may request the approved agency or the intermediary that facilitated or placed the child for adoption or conducted an investigation pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-48) to provide any available medical or other family history information concerning the adopted person that is contained in that person’s adoption file, by submission of a written, notarized request to the agency or intermediary.

     As used in this section, "medical or other 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 intermediary who facilitated an adoption.

     b.    Upon receipt of a request pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the approved agency or intermediary shall provide the adopted person with a detailed summary of any available medical or other family history information concerning the adopted person contained in the person's adoption file, including the names and last known address of both birth parents.

     c.    If an adopted person is unable to obtain information under subsection a. of this section because the agency or intermediary is unknown, the adopted person may petition the court that granted the adoption to consult its file and, if possible, identify the agency or intermediary.

     d.    In the event that the adopted person was under the custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency 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.]2

 

     26.  (New section)  a.  Nothing in this act shall affect regulations adopted by the Department of Children and Families with respect to adoptions facilitated by the Department of Children and Families.

     b.    Nothing in this act shall alter the requirement for an approved adoption agency to provide a prospective parent with non-identifying information relevant to the child's development, including the child's developmental and medical history, and the birth parents' complete medical histories, as provided in section 1 of P.L.1979, c.292 (C.9:3-41.1).2

 

     2[7.   (New section) a. The State Registrar, through the Department of Health, 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 Child Protection and Permanency as provided in subsection d. of section 6 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 c. of R.S.26:8-40.1 or a document of contact preference.

     c.    The State Registrar shall make the information prepared pursuant to subsection a. of this section available on the website of the Department of Health.]2

    

     27.  (New section) In the event that the adopted person was under the care and custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families at the time of the person's adoption, the director of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency shall provide, upon request by an authorized requester, a statement providing summaries of the medical and social characteristics of birth family members, family health histories, the facts and circumstances related to adoptive placement, and summaries of case record material.  The director shall not release case records in response to such a request.2

 

     2[8.   (New section)  Within two years after the date of enactment of P.L    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the Commissioner of Health, 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 4 through 7 of P.L    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  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 of birth that were provided to adopted persons, direct descendants, siblings, spouses, adoptive parents, legal guardians, and other legal representatives, respectively, of adopted persons;

     b.    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

     c.    the number of family history information documents 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 P.L.      , c.     (C.         ).]2


     28.   (New section)  a.  An authorized requester may request the adoption facilitator that placed the child for adoption or conducted an investigation pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-48) to provide any available non-identifying family medical history information concerning the adopted person contained in that person's confidential case records maintained by the adoption facilitator.

     b.    Upon receipt of a request pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the adoption facilitator shall provide the requester with a detailed summary of any available non-identifying family medical history information concerning the adopted person contained in that person's confidential case records.

     c.    If the requester is unable to obtain any available non-identifying family medical history information pursuant to subsection b. of this section because the adoption facilitator is unknown, in order to accommodate the request, the requester may petition the court that granted the adoption to identify the adoption facilitator, if possible.2

 

     2[9.   (New section)  The Department of Health 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 P.L.      , c.     (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The public service messages shall inform the public of the procedures for:

     a.    obtaining a long-form copy of an adopted person's certificate of birth;

     b.    submitting a document of contact preference; and

     c.    submitting family history information.

     The department shall also ensure that this information is available on the department website and the website of the State of New Jersey.]2

 

     29.   (New section)  a.  Notwithstanding the requirements of P.L.    , c.   (C.     )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) to the contrary, in the case of a child who was surrendered pursuant to the "New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act," P.L.2000, c.58 (C.30:4C-15.5 et seq.) and upon receipt of notification from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families in accordance with the provisions of subsection b. of this section, the State Registrar shall not provide any of the birth parent's identifying information recorded on the child's certificate of birth upon receipt of a request from an authorized requester for an uncertified, long-form copy of an adopted person's original certificate of birth in accordance with the provisions of subsection c. of R.S.26:8-40.1 and section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       )(pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     b.    The Division of Child Protection and Permanency 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 State Registrar to identify the certificate of birth of the child who was so surrendered and deem that the uncertified, long-form copy of the original certificate of birth shall not be provided to the authorized requester.

     c.    Nothing in this act shall be construed to require the Division of Child Protection and Permanency 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 P.L.2000, c.58 (C.30:4C-15.5 et seq.).2

 

     10.  (New section)  The Commissioner of Health 2[, in consultation with] and2 the Commissioner of Children and Families, 2as appropriate,2 shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), 2[which shall:

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

     b.    establish required information and procedures for submitting and updating the family history information document; and

     c.    establish a nominal fee for services provided under P.L.      , c.     (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), to meet the costs of implementing P.L.      , c.     (C.         )] to carry out the provisions of this act2.

 

     11.  (New section)  Notwithstanding any provision of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to the contrary, the Commissioner of Health 2[shall] and the Commissioner of Children and Families may2 adopt, immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law, such regulations as the 2[commissioner deems] commissioners deem2 necessary to implement the provisions of P.L.    , c.     (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), which regulations shall be effective for a period not to exceed 12 months and shall, thereafter, be amended, adopted, or readopted by the 2[commissioner] commissioners2 in accordance with the requirements of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).

 

     12.  This act shall take effect immediately; except that 2[sections 3, 4, and 5 shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following the date of enactment.] section 5 shall take effect on August 1, 2015; and sections 3 and 4 shall take effect on January 1, 2017.2  The Commissioner of Health may take such administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act 2, including allowing a birth parent to submit a document of contact preference prior to August 1, 20152.