November 13, 2011

Action Needed to Schedule a PA. HB 963 Hearing: Adoption




     Few things are more controversial than the issue of adoptees seeking the identity of their birth parents or birth parents seeking the welfare of the children they released for adoption. And with good reason. Major issues are involved—psychological, emotional, social, medical—and finding, or not finding, bio-relatives can be wither very positive or very negative.

     Both sides of the issue have valid arguments. Adoptees tell of having a part of their being that is missing, and of wanting medical and family information. Bio-parents often released their children under the confines of total privacy.

     However, many adoptees and bio-parents are seeking information, as evidenced by the high number of places they can register, hoping that their “other half” has also registered at the same site.


     Last January Darlene, a woman outside Chicago, accessed her original birth certificate—her birth and adoption had occurred in an open adoption records state. Her daughter plugged the names into the computer and they immediately discovered my blog site. In this case scenario, the mother’s name was unique—a singular name in the country.

     As it turned out, Darlene was released for adoption by my mother.

     My husband wanted to travel to Chicago for a wrestling match and to see his alma mater campus. We stayed at Darlene’s home for five nights. It was a positive experience for both of us.

     I recognize that many experiences are not positive. However, many adoptees I speak with, who are concerned about finding out negative history, acknowledge that knowing is better than not knowing. They are prepared to take the risk.


     Pennsylvania is not one of the five states that have open adoption records. Had Darlene been born in and placed for adoption in Pennsylvania we likely would never have been in contact.


     Pennsylvania House Bill 963, introduced by Rep. Benninghoff, authorizes the Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics to disclose the original or amended copy of a birth certificate upon the written request of an adoptee age 18 or older. To view the bill, go to  and, click on Find Legislation by Bill No (HB 963) [it’s in a small box on the top right hand corner]. NOTE: It doesn’t have the text of HB 963.

     The first several paragraphs of the bill, taken from the language in Senator Greenleaf’s bill passed last fall, provide for the release of a summary only of the original birth record.  

     Under paragraph (d) of Rep. Benninghoff’s bill, the adopted adult is entitled to receive a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

     HB 963 was been assigned to the Committee on Children & Youth on March 7, 2011.

     At this time you can take action by contacting the Majority Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee on Children & Youth and requesting that they schedule the bill for a hearing.

     Here is some guidance in writing your message:

     Currently, non-adopted people born in Pennsylvania can apply to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, pay a $10.00 fee and get their birth certificate. Adopted people, however, may only receive copies of their amended birth certificate, issued after their adoptions were finalized. Their original birth certificate is sealed to them.
     HB 963 would allow PA-born adopted adults to receive a copy of his or her original birth certificate in exactly the same manner as every other citizen of the Commonwealth.

     We urge you to schedule a hearing in the near future affording members of the adoption community the opportunity to voice our support for HB 963.


Rep. Dennis M. O’Brien
Chair, Children & Youth
Phone:  215-632-5150 or 717-787-5689        


Rep. Dan Moul
Vice Chair, Children & Youth
Phone:   717-334-3010  or  717-334-3010

If your legislator is a member of Children & Youth, also contact her/him.


     Remember, the more voices that the legislators hear, the better chance there is of getting a hearing.*




Five States Allow Adoptees Access to Original Birth Certificates

Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences

Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine




  1. , bio-relatives can be (wither) either– very positive or very negative

    Comment by Joan — November 13, 2011 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  2. Let’s hope that there is enough pressure to get the law changed. Adopted children should have all the same rights to their heritage and medical background as any other child. It’s unfortunate that birth parents felt that they should have their privacy through secrecy; however, the adopted child should not bear the brunt of this decision. We as a society, seem to not want to take responsibility for our actions and sweep it under the rug. It’s time for the rug to be lifted. Darlene

    Comment by Darlene Aslam — November 13, 2011 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  3. There is an interesting discussion on opening original birth records for adoptees at this link:

    Carolyn Cornell Holland

    Comment by carolyncholland — February 8, 2012 @ 12:32 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: