New Jersey is joining 19 other states that allow adults who were adopted access to their birth certificates, something that previously was available only by court order.
The birth parents of as many as 300,000 children who were given up for adoption in New Jersey face a Saturday deadline to decide whether to remove their names from their child’s original birth certificate in order to maintain privacy.
Some 244 parents have requested anonymity, while 734 adoptees have asked for their birth certificates as of Dec. 19, Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said.
Birth parents who have their names redacted can reverse that decision at any time and make their identities known.
“I’m trying to maintain my privacy,” one birth mother told The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because she filed forms with the state to keep her information private. “I’m not looking to be contacted.”
Now in her mid-60s and living out of state, she said she was a 20-year-old student when she put her baby up for adoption. Only her mother and her husband know about the adoption.
“I made the best choice at the time,” she said. “I can’t change history and have moved on with my life.”
Privacy was one of the arguments opponents made during the 34-year struggle to keep birth records closed without a court order.
“All of our Catholic agencies, in years past, always promised, usually the birth mother, confidentiality. That was the law,” said New Jersey Catholic Conference executive director Patrick Brannigan. “We always supported reunions of the birth parent and child by mutual consent, and usually we were quite good at facilitating those reunions.”
Gary Brozowsky, 51, is cautiously optimistic he’ll get to meet his birth mother. “One thing I’d probably like to do is say thank you,” he said.
Brozowsky is hoping to learn whether there are medical issues. “It’s something I’ve thought about in the last 10 years, plus I have kids of my own,” he said.
As of Dec. 19, 199 parents had supplied medical histories.
Birth parents of children adopted on or after Aug. 1, 2015, cannot seek to have their identifying information redacted.