Carolyn’s Online Magazine
OPENING BIRTH RECORDS
TO ADULT ADOPTEES IN PENNSYLVANIA?
HB 162 – 2015
As a former human service worker and an adoptive parent I’m aware how a lack of a medical and a cultural history can affect an adoptee.
Pennsylvania legislation to seal adoption records passed in 1984. Since then the only birth certificate available to adoptees has listed the adoptive parents as the birth parents. This is believed to create an adoptive family that is indistinguishable from families formed by birth, and to protect the adoptee from the fear and stigma of being labeled illegitimate, and therefore being ostracized.
A hearing on HB 162 – 2015 is being held April 14, 2014, in Harrisburg.
I support Section 2 (c) (a) that states “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an adoptee who is 19 years of age or older, or, if the adoptee is deceased, the adoptee’s descendants may apply to the Department of Health for the adoptee’s noncertified copy of original birth record.”
I cannot support Section 2 (c) (b), Contact preference.—The Department of Health shall develop, and upon request, make available to each birth parent named on the original birth certificate a contact preference form on which the birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adoptee who is the birth child of the birth parent.
On the surface, this seems a reasonable, compassionate, requirement.
However, it is also a major roadblock for what I consider a huge percentage of adult adoptees seeking their original birth certificate, which they seek for a variety of reasons, including their medical and social histories.
It makes me wonder about the feasibility of implementation of HB 162-2015’s suggested application procedures, Section 2 (c) (b), which states The Department of Health shall develop policies and procedures necessary to comply with this section within 180 days of the effective date of this subsection.
Mathematically, the requirement for birth parent contact preference covers, mathematically, 91 years—31 years after 1984 when records were sealed to adult adoptees, and for 60 years prior to 1984 when original birth records were available to adult adoptees—a total of 91 years.
How will the myriad of birth parents be notified of, or learn that a contact preference form is required should their birth child seek their original birth record? During the 91 years birth parents have not only died, they have changed their names and their locations, all situations that prevent disseminating the contact form information to them.
Yet if this form is not on file, the adult adoptee will be blocked from access to their medical and social background—that is, unless they enter a grueling court process.
This, then, is an immediate roadblock for, might I suggest, a vast majority of adult adoptees seeking their original birth record. If there is no contact form permitting the release of the original birth record, there is little opportunity for the adoptee to access their original birth record.
I also wonder about the staff requirements and the financial cost will be in implementing HB 162 – 2015 as it is written.
I do believe that the members of the Children and Youth Committee must review HB 162 – 2015 very carefully in order to discover solutions to a very sticky problem.
To read my evaluation of the 2014 HB 162 – 2013 hearing click on The PA Senate Hearing on HB 162: Open Records for Adult Adoptees
Meanwhile, while the Children and Youth committee is considering this legislation you can contact its members to inform them of your viewpoints. I have listed their names and phone numbers for your convenience.
2015 PENNSYLVANIA COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Hon. Katharine M. Watson CHAIR (Warrington, PA) (717) 787-5452 OR (215) 343-8090
Hon. Scott Conklin DEMOCRATIC CHAIR (State College, PA) (814) 342-4872 OR (814) 238-5477
Hon. Tarah Toohil (Hazleton, PA) (717) 260-6136 OR (570) 453-1344
Hon. Dan Moul (Gettysburg, PA) (717) 783-5217 OR (717) 334-3010
Hon. Keith J. Greiner (Lampeter, PA) (717) 783-6422 OR (717) 464-5285
Hon. Kristin Hill (Jacobus, PA) (717) 783-8389 OR (717) 428-9889
Hon. Fred Keller (Mifflinburg, PA) (717) 787-3443 OR (570) 966-0052
Hon. Kate A. Klunk (Hanover, PA) (717) 787-4790 OR (717) 630-8942
Hon. Harry Lewis Jr. (Parkesburg, PA) (717) 787-1806 OR (610) 857-2145
Hon. David M. Maloney Sr. (Douglassville, PA) (717) 260-6161 OR (610) 385-0704
Hon. Brett R. Miller (Lancaster, PA) (717) 705-7161 OR (717) 295-5050
Hon. Tedd C. Nesbit (Grove City, PA) (717) 783-6438 OR (724) 458-4911
Hon. David Parker (Tobyhanna and Stroudsburg) (570) 894-7905 OR (570) 420-2940
Hon. Jack Rader Jr. (Pocono Pines, PA and Effort) (570) 643-7683 OR (570) 620-4341
Hon. Rick Saccone (OR Jefferson Hills, PA) (717) 260-6122 OR (412) 653-1025
Hon. James R. Santora (Clifton Heights, PA) (610) 789-2695 OR (610) 259-2820
Hon. Todd Stephens (North Wales, PA) (717) 260-6163 OR (215) 368-5165
Hon. Mark Rozzi (Temple, PA) (717) 783-3290 OR (610) 921-8921
Hon. Michelle F. Brownlee (Philadelphia, PA) (717) 787-3480 OR (215) 684-3738
Hon. Leslie Acosta (Philadelphia, PA) (717) 772-2004 OR (215) 457-5281
Hon. Pamela A. DeLissio (Philadelphia, PA) (717) 783-4945 OR (215) 482-8726
Hon. Patty Kim (Steelton, PA) (717) 783-9342 OR (717) 986-1673
Hon. Stephen Kinsey (Philadelphia, PA) (717) 787-3181 OR (215) 849-6592
Hon. Stephen McCarter (Glenside, PA) (717) 783-1079 OR (215) 572-5210
Hon. Dan L. Miller (Mt. Lebanon, PA) (717) 783-1850 OR (412) 343-3870
Hon. Adam Ravenstahl (Pittsburgh, PA) (717) 787-5470 OR (412) 321-5523
Hon. Steven J. Santarsiero (Yardley, PA) (717) 787-5475 OR (215) 493-5420
NOTE: The WordPress daily prompt for April 4, 2105, is IMHO: Link to an item in the news you’ve been thinking about lately, and write the op-ed you’d like to see published on the topic. My news item came in my email: PA legislation to open adoption records to adult adoptees. This issue for some reason isn’t reported in the general news.