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On Thursday, June 25, the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee passed a bill that would allow adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates with restrictions. The bill, HB162, has been amended from its original form. The bill is now on a trajectory towards the House of Representatives where it may receive deliberation and a full vote on the House floor.
Amendment A02354 is of particular concern:
This amendment would allow birth parents who relinquished prior to the legislation going into effect a six month window after the bill becomes law to redact their names from their relinquished son or daughter’s original birth certificate. Once the six month period is over, there will be no further opportunity for birth parents to make redactions, and all original birth certificates will be provided upon request to adult adoptees age 18 and over.
Every five years, adoptees subjected to redactions can request that the PA Department of Health contacts their birth parent(s) to see if the redaction status has changed. Should the department not be able to make contact with a birth parent or finds (s)he is deceased, the original birth certificate will be provided to the adoptee without redaction. A birth parent at any time can request that their redaction be taken away. All adoptees with adoptions finalized after the legislation takes effect will be able to access their original birth certificates at age 18 without redactions.
We encourage anyone concerned about adoptee rights in Pennsylvania to write or call members of the House of Representatives, especially those on the Committee on Children and Youth, and ask for the removal of Amendment A02354.
Contact information for Representatives can be found HERE.
- Promises of anonymity are/were inappropriate.The alleged promise of anonymity was never made in relinquishment documents, nor does it hold the adopted person in equal regard under the law when accessing a vital record. It also defies Children’s Rights frameworks and holds adoptees to an alleged agreement regarding their own government record, to which they were too young to consent.
- Even with this amendment, it is impossible to promise anonymity. With the advent of DNA testing and the Internet, birth parents can be found regardless of removing their names from the birth certificate. It is irresponsible for the State to imply that redacting a birth parent’s name from a birth certificate ensures their relinquished son or daughter will never know their name.
- Allowing redactions undermines the point of HB162, which is equality. This amendment allows for the personal preferences of one adult citizen to supersede the legal right of another adult citizen to access an accurate record of their birth.
- Equal access to original birth certificates is not about reunion.HB162 seeks to assuage the conflation of reunion with the access to information as separate needs. Adult adoptees have a right to access information about themselves that any other citizen can access, regardless of their desire to reunite or whether or not they may be welcomed should they find their family.
Additional talking points and updates can be found on the Pennsylvania Adoptee Rights website at http://pennsylvaniaadopteerights.org/.