Response to Birthright Bill Opposition

NJCARE responds to opponents’ arguments with fact and data.

The following organizations have opposed legislation promoting access to original birth certificates for adult adopted persons:

  • New Jersey Catholic Conference of Bishops
  • New Jersey Right-to-Life (NJ RTL)
  • American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ)
  • New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA)
  • National Council for Adoption (NCFA) a Washington, DC-based trade association for a small percentage of American adoption agencies

NJCARE believes that the arguments posed by institutional opponents of this legislation are based on false assumptions, i.e. birth mothers were guaranteed privacy, more women will choose abortion and adoptions will decline if the legislation passes, and mutual consent voluntary registries (MCVR) are the answer.  However, none of their claims are backed up with data.  A thoughtful reading of the primary documents, i.e. legislative intent of the 1940 bill that sealed records, the relinquishment, the statutes themselves, and the final decree of adoption, reveals that no legally defensible “guarantee of privacy” from their own child could possibly have been given to birth mothers at the time of relinquishment.

The first false assumption is that relinquishment equals adoption.  They are entirely separate processes.  Although relinquishment is a prerequisite for adoption, not every relinquished child is adopted.  Some grow up in foster care, others are institutionalized and some even die.

When a birth parent surrenders custody and control of her child to an agency, she gives up all parental rights and responsibilities during her child’s minority.  She promises never to enter the life of the child or the adoptive family, and she gives up all rights to be notified whether or not her child is adopted.

If the statute that sealed records truly intended to protect  a birth mother’s privacy from her own child, the birth certificate would have been sealed at relinquishment.  It was not.  The birth certificate is only sealed by the court when the adoption is finalized.  Therefore, birth mothers could not have been granted “a statutory guarantee of privacy.”

The second false assumption is that abortions will rise and adoptions will fall.  In states that allow adoptees to access their birth certificates, the abortion rate is generally lower than the national average, while adoption rates are higher.

The opposition claims that MCVRs are “the answer.” However, mutual consent voluntary registries fail to match 98% of those who register.