TRENTON, N.J. - Adoptees in New Jersey are a step closer to getting access to their birth records.
The state Assembly on Thursday voted to approve a conditional veto settlement that was brokered by Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers that would open the records for the first time since they were sealed in 1940.
The compromise delays access for nearly three years to give birth parents time to have their names removed from birth certificates.
Birth parents of children adopted before Aug. 1, 2015 would have until the end of 2016 to ask that their names be removed. Those who do would be asked to give some medical history.
Biological parents of children adopted after Aug. 1, 2015 would not have the option of redacting their names.
Under the bill, birth parents of all adopted children are able to give their preferences for whether — and how — they can be contacted. They have the option of changing their choice at any time.
The vote caps a 34-year push by a group of advocates for adoptees and their biological parents to make New Jersey one of only a handful of states that allow adoptees access to this information. It also gives adoptees the right to contact an adoption agency, or the intermediary who facilitated the adoption, to obtain any available medical or family history information contained in that person's adoption file.
New Jersey joins Illinois, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee in giving adoptees similar access to their files.
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