What is the DYFS Adoption Registry?
The DYFS Adoption Registry is a service that collects information about children whose adoptions were processed by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) or by its predecessor agencies—the Bureau of Children’s Services, the State Board of Child Welfare, or the State Board of Children’s Guardians. The Registry allows children who were adopted (adoptees) to contact their birth family members when they become adults. The Registry currently has over 10,000 registrants.
What information does the Registry provide?
The Registry provides services and information to adoptees, birth mothers, birth fathers, birth siblings, and other birth and adoptive family members who are searching for a birth family member. The Registry may provide an adoptee with non-identifying background information about whether or not a birth family member has registered with the adoption registry. The Registry has referral services and limited search services available to locate birth family members and information for the adoptee.
What is non-identifying background information?
Non-identifying information is collected from the DYFS file, and it may include the adoptee's birth statistics and placement history. It may also include:
- Family health histories
- Certain facts and circumstances related to adoptive placement
- Medical and social characteristics of birth family members.
Who may register with the Adoption Registry?
Adult adoptees, adoptive parents of minor adoptees, and birth parents who have had an adoption or a parental termination proceeding with DYFS may register with the adoption registry. Registry services are not available to members of the adoption community whose adoptions were processed independently through private attorneys or through private adoption agencies.
How can I register?
Adult adoptees, adoptive parents of minor adoptees, and birth parents who wish to register must fill out an application form that includes identifying information about themselves and the person(s) they wish to contact. Once the application is processed, the information is entered into the Registry. The Registry will not release this information but will notify the registered persons if the family member they are seeking applies to the Registry.
Registrants may also send cards or letters to be attached to their Registry application forms. This material remains in the Registry and can be forwarded when the intended family members contact the Registry.
The Registrant’s information may be updated. Registrants should update their information with change of name, address, or telephone number.
Can I remove my name from the Registry?
Registrants may withdraw their application at any time.
What are the limited search services?
Adult adoptees and minor adoptees who have the written permission of their adoptive parents may ask Registry staff to conduct limited searches to locate birth relatives. These searches are based on information in the case record. In-depth private investigative services are not available. Any birth family member located by a search must provide identification and written permission before Registry staff will honor requests to release identifying information or arrange contact with the adoptee.
Registry staff may not conduct searches to locate adoptees or adoptive families for birth families.
What if I want more information outside the Registry?
Adoption Registry staff members may provide only information from the summaries. Registry staff may also provide general information on various aspects of the adoption and search experiences. Staff may also refer adoptees to adoption support groups, agencies, and other reading materials.
How long does the process take?
According to the Registry staff, on average, it takes two to three weeks to verify whether or not an applicant is eligible to register or to receive non-identifying information. It takes approximately 90 days to obtain information.
Searching usually takes several months, depending on material available in the DYFS case, and may include contacting other individuals.
Is there a cost to register to use the Registry search services?
There is no charge for services provided by the DYFS Adoption Registry.
How do I register?
Contact the New Jersey Department of Children and Families at:
Division of Youth and Family Services
Adoption Registry Coordinator
P.O. Box 717
Trenton, NJ 08625-0717
Legal Services of New Jersey’s Family Representation Project
For more information about the Adoption Registry, contact Legal Services of New Jersey’s Family Representation Project by calling LSNJ-LAW™, LSNJ’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.
This information last reviewed 10/28/11