Beginning in 2017, adoptees in New Jersey will be able to get their original birth certificate without a court order.

(Jani Bryson, ThinkStock)
(Jani Bryson, ThinkStock)

Gov. Chris Christie signed the adoptees' rights bill into law Tuesday. Birth parents will have until the end of 2016 to have their names removed from a birth certificate if they want to remain anonymous.

"We've been working together to find a sensible middle ground that protects people's privacy, but that gives adopted children and their parents access to information when they get older in order to care for themselves and their children," Christie said. "We're bringing forth the needed changes and the safeguards that will protect the privacy of the woman who offers her child for adoption if she so desires that privacy."

The new law gives birth parents a chance to indicate if they prefer direct contact with the adopted person, contact through the use of an intermediary, or no contact at all. The birth parent may change this preference at any time by submitting revisions to the State Registrar.

The original bill was conditionally vetoed by Christie, who wanted birth parents to have privacy if that's what they want. The governor has an adopted sister. He said he consulted with her often while also meeting with adoptee advocates and lawmakers.

"Throughout this lengthy process, we heard many heartfelt stories about the need for adoptees to access their birth records simply because they are facing a crisis and need to know more about their family medical history," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) in a statement. "This is information that many of us take for granted, but adoptees often cannot access through no fault of their own. The final product signed today is a compassionate plan to help many adoptees learn more about themselves while still protecting the rights of the birth parents."

The bipartisan bill was co-sponsored in the Assembly by GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield).

"This law is the result of hard work and compromise that benefits all parties involved," Bramnick said in a statement. "Adoptees can access their birth records and obtain important information while birth parents have a window of opportunity to protect their privacy."

The new law brings an end to a 34-year debate on adoption records reform.

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