Many years ago, you probably made the most difficult decision of your life. We imagine that since then you have had many questions about what life was like for the child you placed for adoption and that at times, you may even have struggled with your decision. It is our hope that by embarking on this process to search for the child you placed for adoption that your questions are answered and that you find any needed closure. This can be an exciting and challenging process, and we are pleased to be able to walk with you through it.
Prior to January 1, 2017, birth parents had the right to have their names redacted from their child’s original birth certificate. If you did not complete a redaction form with the State of New Jersey, it is possible that the child you placed for adoption has requested or will request his/her original birth certificate and that you might be contacted by him/her directly.
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.
Catholic Charities provides two primary services for birth parents. 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 an Information Form for you. Insomuch as information is available, this form may contain information about the child you placed for adoption such as:
- Demographic information about his/her adoptive parents, their families and family history, their occupations, hobbies, and talents
- When and where the child was born
- Whether the child was placed in temporary foster care prior to placement with his/her adoptive family
- When he/she was placed with his adoptive family
- When and where he/she was baptized
- The child’s medical information up to the time of the legal adoption; usually 9-12 months following his/her placement
- The date of the finalization of the adoption
Many birth mothers do not recall exactly what information they shared when they approached Catholic Charities for adoption services as it was often a confusing and emotional time, so in addition to information about the child, we may also include some of the information you provided at the time of the adoption.
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 the adoption. We are, therefore, unable to provide you with your child’s name, his/her adoptive parents’ names, their addresses, or their telephone numbers.
In some instances, adoptive families remained in contact with Catholic Charities long after the adoption was finalized. If there is more current information, 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 Information Form and have had a chance to discuss it with the counselor and your support network, you may opt to initiate a Reunion with the child you placed for adoption. 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 child. 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 the adoptee as well. Some adoptees did not know they were adopted, and many adoptees feel a conflict of loyalty as they may believe a relationship with a birth parent would be emotionally painful to their adoptive parents. Since 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 the child you placed for adoption 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 the child you placed for adoption.
If the child cannot be located or if he/she is deceased, all reasonable efforts will be made to contact the nearest kin available to fulfill the search agreement. Our counselors work with the family in hopes that they will feel comfortable enough to share information about the child’s whereabouts or, in the event of the child’s death, to provide you with details about his/her life.
If your child is open to contact, the form of that contact will depend on a number of factors such as his/her location and comfort level. The contact 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 the adoption record?
Ideally, the adoption record contains all the information you provided at the time you placed your child for adoption, including any forms you signed. Additionally, all adoptive couples are required to have undergone a “home study.” The record should contain all the information the adoptive couple provided during their home study. This would include basic demographic information, some of their family history, and some medical history. It would also contain updates on the child you placed for adoption up until the time of his/her legal adoption, which usually took place 9 – 12 months after you signed the surrender papers. Some adoptive couples voluntarily elected to continue to provide information beyond that, but most did not.
What information am I entitled to?
Catholic Charities would provide you will copies of all the forms you completed at the time you requested adoption services for your child.
Can I obtain my child’s name?
Catholic Charities can provide you with your child’s first, and middle name if one exists, as it appears on the birth certificate that was issues at the time of their adoption. We cannot provide you with his/her last name so as to ensure his/her confidentiality. We can attempt to locate the child you placed for adoption, and if contact is established between the two of you, your child is free to release whatever information he/she chooses.
Why is there a fee to search for my child?
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 the child you placed for adoption and to provide him/her with needed counsel as well.
Is my fee refundable if you don’t find my child?
No, unfortunately not. We do make every effort to locate adoptees so, the fees cover the time we spend searching for them. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to locate your child, that he/she will be living, or that he/she 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 search for the child you placed for adoption, and we have information that can be helpful to them during this process too.
How long does it take to find my child?
This is another element of this process that can vary widely. Some adoptees 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 an adult adoptee. When we are unable to locate an adoptee, we do seek out other family members who might be easier to locate.
I have been contacted by the child I placed for adoption directly, how did he/she get my information?
Catholic Charities releases no identifying information to adoptees directly. If the child you placed for adoption worked with Catholic Charities, you would have been contacted by a representative of Catholic Charities. If you were contacted directly, it is most likely that the child you placed received his/her original birth certificate from the State of New Jersey. The original birth certificate contained your name and probably also contained information such as your age and address at the time of his/her birth. This is usually enough information to be able to locate someone by doing an internet search.
Can I stop the adoptee from contacting me if he/she has my information?
Prior to January 1, 2017, birth parents had the opportunity to have their names redacted from the original birth certificate. While it is still possible to complete these forms on the State of New Jersey’s website (https://adoptionrecords.nj.gov/arms/a/index.html), there is no guarantee that they will honor your request. You may also elect to utilize Catholic Charities’ process to have one of our representatives contact the child you placed for adoption to advise him/her that you do not wish to have contact. Just complete a Research and Reunion application form and check the box marked “Search Services”. Even by doing so, we cannot guarantee that he/she will honor your request.
What if I am glad my child contacted me, but things aren’t going smoothly?
Catholic Charities is available to assist with all stages of the Reunion process. We can attempt to intervene to try to help things go more smoothly. Just complete a Research and Reunion Application and check the box marked Additional Counseling Sessions.