TRENTON – This week the State Assembly passed legislation that the New Jersey family Policy Council has some great concerns about. Since it also passed in the Senate, the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk and he has 42 days to sign, veto or conditionally veto the bill. Proponents argue that the bill offers birth parents the option to retract his/her name from the birth certificate if they send a notarized request to the state registry within one year after the law is implemented. But this is a passive approach leaving many unsuspecting birth mothers unaware of the change in the law. They claim the compromise has been made: with the legislation, birth parents can maintain their privacy while adoptees can learn about their genealogy and medical history if they wish. However, we believe that the State must honor its contractual arrangements with past birth mothers. Going forward we have no problem giving birth parents an option, since they would be fully informed about the various options and ramifications their choice would have to give their child up for adoption.
“Our greatest concern is that the bill, in its current form, threatens the rights of past birth parents, especially those birth mothers who made confidentiality arrangements years ago, only now to have that agreement reversed. To us this is semi quasi bait and switch. Many birth mothers, who made the selfless but traumatic decision to offer their baby for adoption, chose a closed adoption over an open adoption or abortion, in the best interests of both herself and her child,” stated Len Deo, Founder and President of the NJFPC. “That is why we are asking the Governor, with all due respect, to conditionally veto this legislation to protect past birth mother’s confidentiality,” Deo concluded.
The Bergen Record opinion editorial of May 12th rightly puts forth the same argument. If Governor Christie signs the bill into law, many women will feel betrayed, like their privacy, which was assured to them, will be violated; like the contract made decades ago is suddenly null and void. Jim Goodness, spokesman of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark points out, “There are women and men who have been involved in the adoption process for generations who are now having their privacy taken away from them,” as the diocese promised anonymity to thousands.”
Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it does involve some emotional pain. The question is: does the need, which we do recognize, of the adoptees trump the implications that would come with the bill and the understanding that past birth mother’s identity would no longer be protected and kept confidential if she does not send in a certified letter? How does she find out about this? What if she is not aware and after one year the records are opened without her knowledge? Only Governor Christie holds the ultimate answers to those questions.