(TRENTON) — Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) issued a multimedia package Friday in which they discuss the importance of legislation to allow New Jersey adoptees access to their original birth certificates and family history for medical purposes.
The bill (A-1259) would allow adoptees, 18 years old or older, to request from the state registrar access to an uncertified, long form copy of their original birth certificate. Under the bill, adult adoptees would also have the right to contact the adoption agency, or any intermediaries who facilitated the adoption, to obtain any available medical or family history information contained in their adoption records.
In the interest of protecting the privacy of the birth parents, the bill would provide them with the ability to indicate a contact preference with the adopted person. Birth parents would be able to file documents with the state registrar stipulating whether they prefer direct contact with the adopted person, contact only through an intermediary, or no contact at all.
The measure received final legislative approval from the Assembly in February by a vote of 44-27-3.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Prieto and Vainieri Huttle discussing their legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A copy of the transcript is appended below:
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
“This bill would give adoptees, once they turn 18 years old, to be able to their birth certificates. And, with that, they would be able to get their medical history. And this is something that’s very important because people want to know, you know, about their history, number one – where they come from – and through no fault of their own they can’t access those records.
“Medical history is very important in today’s world. Having that information could lead to better health for people, better access to care, so they know illnesses that may be in the family. So it’s very important for them to be able to access these records.”
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Assembly Human Services Committee Chair:
“You know, there are underlying conditions that they may not be aware of. There may be hereditary conditions, genetic conditions, whether there is cancer in their family. I mean, you go to a doctor today, and the first thing they ask is your family history. Was there any cancer in your family?
“Apparently, these adoptees don’t have the right answer, or they don’t have that information. It’s so important and it’s so critical that they have that information for medical purposes. And again, to me, it’s good public health policy as well.”
“This bill also addresses the privacy issue. If the parent would want contact, they could ask for contact. If they don’t want, they wouldn’t. So it’s something that would keep their privacy but would, at the same time, allow the adoptee to be able to access the information that they want.”