It is important to note that New Jersey's non-disclosure veto is far less restrictive than in some other states (such as Delaware) where non-disclosure equals no original birth certificate (OBC). Instead, the adopted person whose birth mother uses the one-year window to file a disclosure veto will still be given his original birth certificate--with his or her name, time and place of birth. Only the birth mother's and/or father's (if so listed) names will be blanked out. So, no matter what, the adoptee gets his first name! His first last name! The whole name he was given at birth! As for the issue of disclosure of agency data about the birth/first mother, Pam Hasegawa, one of the bill's framers and an adoptee, notes:
While the adoptee (whose mother does not file a veto) may also receive the non-identifying files that are the cause of the commotion about this bill from some first mother's perspectives, he also has the name of the birth mother which he may use to find her, if he so chooses. Information in that file may help him find his mother, as if it says that she had brothers, whose last names presumably have not been changed."The OBC will state whether the mother has given birth to other children prior to this birth; hopefully, agency non-IDing info will provide the same facts. From one perspective, that's the first mother's private information (how many other children she had when this one was born). From another perspective (mine), if I have half-siblings, we're related to each other and they're part of my family and I'm a part of theirs. If any one disagreeing with this example would like to exclude that particular fact from non-IDing info to be provided, please consider the implications of any sons or daughters committing incest with a half-sibling.
"While the non-IDing info varies according to the social worker compiling and sharing it with requesting adoptees (as it has been since 1977), there's not going to be wholesale (or ANY) sharing of the records themselves. No birth family members' medical records will be released, although I do hope adoptees will be able to get their OWN hospital records as neonates as other Americans covered by the Freedom Of Information Act are able to. Understand, there is a major difference between medical records and "family-medical history." Maybe changing the word "medical" to "health" would be the more correct term.
If release of medical records is verboten because of HIPPA privacy laws, then what else is there to draw from than information shared by the birth parent with the social worker before the child's birth and/or adoption? It certainly is better for an individual as well as the prospective adoptive parents to know if the child may carry a genetic predisposition for a disease that doesn't usually show up until adolescence or later, such as schizophrenia or breast cancer. If a first parent has either physical or mental illness in her or his family health history, that information should be shared with prospective adoptive parents, as well as the adopted individual."
Furthermore, if the birth mother does not file for non-disclosure during the one-year window she has to do so, we assume that many of these adoptees will, in fact, search for their first mothers and fathers in hope of a reunion. So while they may be given files collected by a judgmental social worker, they should be able to learn first hand from their mothers whether the information is correct or misleading or just plain inaccurate. Those whose first mothers did request non-disclosure would not have that option.
While intellectually we can understand the hesitation and objection about releasing this possibly misleading or mischaracterization of the birth mother, on reflection both Jane and I came to the conclusion that if the bill can only be passed if it contains some sort of "veto" power granted to the birth mother, and releases this agency information, we will go along with it, as it will give the vast majority of adoptees in New Jersey who seek their birth records their unredacted, long-form birth certificates. And that is worth celebrating.
Additionally, the non-identifying information from the agency, along with the original name of the adopted person that is on the birth certificate, will possibly allow those individuals who are good at sleuthing more clues to locate their original parents, if they so choose. Please note also that this information has been given out in New Jersey since 1977. We have been and are adamantly opposed to the state offering and continuing birth mother anonymity from their own children. It invests in the her a right we believe is cruel, unjust, and violates all laws of human nature and decency. It strips the person to be adopted much of their dignity, and the right to be equal and free with the rest of humankind.
In conclusion, Pam asks for input in making the bill the best it can be: "All of us who care about the NJ bill being as good as it can be need to work together as the bill moves forward closer to June," she says. "There is a strong committed core group of people in New Jersey who have been working on the legislation since 1980. If you have a good idea, or your state has a model template for non-identifying information, please send it to NJCare.firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15.
To which we add: Amen.