If you are an adult adoptee seeking questions about your birth parents, we are pleased to help walk you through this exciting and challenging process that you are about to embark upon.
The following information applies only to the services provided by Catholic Charities and is, therefore, a different service than that offered by the State of New Jersey. If you wish to obtain your original birth certificate, you must submit an application with the State of New Jersey here.
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden provides two primary services for adult adoptees. They are:
Important Information to Know:
Adoptions agencies are required to maintain adoption records for a minimum of 99 years, so if your adoption was facilitated through Catholic Charities (aka Catholic Social Services or Catholic Aid Society) in the Diocese of Camden, we will have your adoption record in our archives. We ask you to provide as much information as you know so we can ensure that when we search our archives that we locate the correct adoption file.
Once we have located the file, we review its contents to develop a Social and Medical History Information Form for you. Insomuch as information is available, this form may contain information about your birth parents such as their:
- Ages at the time of your adoption
- Physical Characteristics
- Education level
- Hobbies or talents
- Family structure
- General Medical Information
- Reason for placing you for adoption
It is important to keep in mind that this information was likely provided at a time that your birth parents were young and healthy, so it may not contain any information about significant health issues.
Additionally, the record may contain information about the very early days of your life from the time you were born to the time your adoption was finalized. We will share that information with you as well.
In keeping with New Jersey law, N.J.A.C. 10:121A-3.6 (a) 4, that says adoption agencies “shall maintain the confidentiality of all information in all client case records, including those of the child, birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, adult adoptees and all other persons residing in the adoptive parents’ home, except by court order, as specified in this chapter or by written consent of the specific party,” Catholic Charities does not release any identifying information without the express written permission of the other parties involved in your adoption. We are, therefore, unable to provide you with your birth parents’ names, their relatives’ names, their addresses, or their telephone numbers.
In some instances, birth parents have remained in contact with us and have supplied updated medical or social information. If this is included in your adoption file, we will gladly share this with you as well.
You will be provided with all the information we have available at the time of your face-to-face counseling session. You may invite anyone you wish to participate with you during this session.
Requirements for Adoption File Search:
- A completed Request for Information Form
- A signed and notarized Waiver of Confidentiality and Authorization to Release Information Form
- A signed and notarized Release of Liability and Agreement to Hold Harmless Form
- A check or money order in the amount of $250.00* made payable to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, Inc.*
Proof of Identification – a copy of a driver’s license and social security card are acceptable, and must link you to your legal adopted name**
* The fee includes a face-to-face session with an agency search specialist to discuss the information contained in the Social and Medical Form. This session is highly recommended. Should you have financial hardship, let us know.
** It is preferable that these identification documents be presented in person, but may be submitted along with notarized documents.
** If you are married, and have changed your name, please provide documents with your maiden name and a marriage certificate with your married name.
Important Information to Know:
Once you have received your Medical and Social History Information and have had a chance to discuss it with the counselor and your support network, you may opt to initiate a Reunion with your birth parents. This can be an emotional process that can range widely from excitement to nervousness, from terrific joy to great disappointment. There is no way to know what we will encounter on this journey to locate your birth parent(s). Our trained counselors will attempt to prepare you for what you might expect, and be there to support you along the way.
Our counselors will provide support and guidance to your birth parent(s) as well. For many, they were told they would never be contacted again, so reaching out to them can produce an equally wide range of emotions for them. Our counselors will provide counsel and support to assist in discerning whether a reunion is right for them as well.
The search for your birth parent(s) will be conducted with respect for her/his right to privacy and anonymity, so if he/she does not wish to establish contact with us, we will honor his/her request.
Also, there are no guarantees of success in finding your birth parent(s).
If your birth parent(s) cannot be located or is/are deceased, all reasonable efforts will be made to contact the nearest kin available to fulfill the search agreement. Keep in mind that these relatives may be unaware that an adoption took place. Our counselors work with them to share this sensitive information in a delicate manner and positive light.
If your birth parent(s) is/are open to contact, the form of that contact will depend on a number of factors such as location and comfort level, and could take place via e-mail, telephone, and/or in person. Once again, your counselor will be available to help you navigate this complicated process.
Requirements for a Reunion Request:
- An Adoption File Search must first be completed and all documents requested above must be completed
- A check or money order in the amount of $750.00* made payable to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, Inc.
* This is an additional fee over and above the Adoption File Search.
* This fee includes three face-to-face sessions with an agency search specialist to discuss the search process and possible outcomes as well as counseling sessions for birth parent(s) and/or relatives when indicated. These sessions are highly recommended.
* Additional fees may apply for a more complicated search.
* All fees are non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the search and reunion process.
Checks and Money Orders only; made payable to:
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, Inc. Send to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, Inc. Attention: Sylvia Loumeau, MSW, LCSW 1845 Haddon Avenue; Camden, New Jersey 08103
856-342-4158 and 856-342-4162
What information is contained in my adoption record?
The information contained in adoption records can vary based on such things as the era in which you were adopted, how open your birth parents were with the adoption worker, and the circumstances around the adoption. In most cases we have basic demographic information for your birth parents, their basic health information, and information about your birth such as where and when you were born, when you were released from the hospital, and any medical conditions that were noted between your birth and the time your adoption was finalized. It is not unusual to find little to no information about birth-fathers in the adoption record.
Can I obtain my birth parents’ names?
No, Catholic Charities will not release the names of your birth parents or any other identifying information such as an address. We will attempt to locate your birth parents for you and they are free to release whatever information they so choose.
Why is there a fee to obtain my adoption information?
Research and Reunion services are a professional service offered by a trained therapist, so just like any other professional service, there is a fee. The fees cover the time and resources required to review your adoption file and provide you with copies of what you are entitled to, meet with you to discuss your request, attempt to locate your birth parents and to provide them with needed counsel as well.
Is my fee refundable if you don’t find my birth parents?
No, unfortunately not. We do make every effort to locate your birth parents so, the fees cover the time we spend searching for them. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to locate your birth parents, that they will be living, or that they will be open to contact with you.
Can I invite someone to come with me to my counseling appointments?
Yes, absolutely! This is strongly encouraged. It is helpful to have a support person with you. The people around you are also impacted by your decision to obtain your adoption information, and we have a lot of information that can be helpful to them during this process too.
How long does it take to find my birth parents?
This is another element of this process that can vary widely. Some birth parents are still at the same address or very close by, which makes them easier to find. Others have traveled the world and changed their names multiple times, which makes them harder to find. Typically, it takes us around 2-10 hours of research time to locate a birth parent. When we are unable to locate a birth parent, we do seek out other family members who might be easier to locate.