PENNSYLVANIA. HOUSE BILL 162:
ADULT ADOPTEES RIGHT TO ACCESS THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE
CURRENT STATUS OF ADOPTEES RIGHT TO ACCESS THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORD
UPDATE: HB 162 will be heard in the
Senate Committee on Aging & Youth
on March 18 at 10:00 a.m.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Support HB162 by contacting
- Bob Mernsch, chair of the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee:www.senatormensch.com , 717-787-3110 or 215-541-2388
- LeeAnna Washington, minority chair: Washington@pasenate.com , 717-787-1427 or 215-242-0472
- Kim Ward, Westmoreland County, vice chair
- Your PA state Senator
A letter to the editor was published in the Greensburg Tribune-Review (southeast of Pittsburgh)—read Open Birth Records—http://triblive.com/opinion/letters/5540321-74/adoptees-adult-birth#axzz2sxbs4fI1
On October 23, 2013, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 162 (Benninghoff), which allows Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain their original, factual, birth certificate. There were no “no” votes. It is currently currently in the PA Senate, Aging and Youth Committee.
I encourage you to support HB 162 by contacting your state senator.
If the Senate passes HB 162 it will allow Pennsylvania adult adoptees the same access to their original birth certificates as non adoptees have, and as my sisters had in New England.
A child adopted in the state of Pennsylvania receives an altered (or amended) birth certificate to make it appear as though the adoptive parents actually gave birth to the adoptee. There is no indication on the amended birth certificate that an adoption even occurred.
The original, factual birth certificate is sealed away.
This original birth certificate is not legally recognized. Thus, Pennsylvania-born adult adoptees (age 18+) are not allowed to access it.
PRIOR TO 1984
Prior to 1984 things were different. Adult adoptees born in Pennsylvania were able to access their original birth certificates just as all non-adopted adults who were born in Pennsylvania.
In 1984 this equality under law changed upon the enactment of the Adoption Act 195, which took away the right for adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.
In 2010-2011 Pennsylvania created an Information Registry for the receipt and retention of medical and social history and the distribution of authorization forms. Adoptees (18 and older) and birth parents may authorize or refuse the release of identifying information. If no authorization form is on file, a state-trained representative shall use reasonable efforts to conduct search. The law provides for the release of a summary of the original birth certificate (OBC) only, not the actual OBC. Passage of HB 963 would amend this law
JANUARY 17, 2013—CURRENT PROPOSED LEGISLATION
Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County, 171st Legislative District) and 22 co-sponsors introduced a new bill restoring Pennsylvania-born adult adoptees the right to access their OBC:
HB 162, an unrestricted access bill, was introduced in the PA House of Representatives on January 16, 2013. The bill would allow Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. HB 162 has been assigned to the Committee on Children and Youth.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT FULLY SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 162
PENNSYLVANIA ADOPTEE RIGHTS
Pennsylvania Adoptee Rights is a grassroots group of adult adoptees, original families, adoptive families, and allies who share the common goal of influencing positive legislation that restores original birth certificate access to adult adoptees born in Pennsylvania.
THE AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS (AAC)
The American Adoption Congress is comprised of individuals, families and organizations committed to adoption reform…We promote honesty, openness and respect for family connections in adoption, foster care and assisted reproduction. We provide education for our members and professional communities about the lifelong process of adoption. We advocate legislation that will grant every individual access to information about his or her family and heritage.
Increasing public awareness about the realities of adopted life for birth and adoptive families
Changing public policies related to adoption practices in order to acknowledge adoption as an extension of family
Enacting legislation in all states that guarantees access to identifying information for all adopted persons and their birth and adoptive families through records access and preservation of open adoption agreements
Facilitating birth family reunification for all adopted adults, without prior restraint, through search and support group networking and/or social service assistance
AAC supports the right of all those whose lives have been impacted by adoption to decide for themselves whether and when to search. We are considered the foremost advocate for all those who have been adversely affected by the adoption system as it is currently being operated. That’s our thing! While we have provided a listing of some groups within each state, searching and providing support for individuals are both outside our mission and expertise. We”re here to get the system healed and, of course, we need and appreciate your assistance.
If you are have an adoption connection to Pennsylvania and support this legislation contact:
- Kate Raab, AAC Pennsylvania Representative, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carolyn Hoard, AAC Legislation Committee, email@example.com.
- Maintain contact with the American Adoption Congress and Pennsylvania Adoptee rights through their websites: www.americanadoptioncongress.org and www.pennsylvaniaadopteerights.org . For General Inquiries to PRA contact
- Sign the petition on Adoptees Rights to Original Birth Certificates: Sign to Support Adoptee Rights to Their Original Birth Certificates
- Contact your Pennsylvania House member representative with a request that they co-sponsor House Bill 162. If they are already a co-sponsor let them know you support their efforts.
HB 162 has the following cosponsors so far:
Benninghoff, Caltagirone, Causer, Clymer, Costa D, Davis, Emrick, Fleck, Gingrich, Harris, Knowles, Kortz, Lawrence, Major, Mundy, O’Brien, O’Neill, Pickett, Reese, Swanger, Thomas, Watson
- Contact Children & Youth Committee Members (* signifies co-sponsor as of 1/17/2013) to share your concerns and ask them to support HB 162:
Majority (Room 41A EW)
*Watson, Katharine M. , Chair
Bishop, Louise Williams , Democratic Chair
Greiner, Keith J.
*Lawrence, John A.
Maloney, David M., Sr.
Minority (Room 326 MC)
Boyle, Kevin J.
Brownlee, Michelle F.
Conklin, H. Scott
Deasy, Daniel J.
CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS: ADOPTION CATEGORY