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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 14, 2013 02:28 PM
From: Representative Kerry A. Benninghoff
To: All House members
Subject: Adoption Records - Former HB 963
 
On Wednesday, January 16, 2013, I will be reintroducing legislation to allow Pennsylvania adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate. This was HB 963 last session.

It is reported that in the late 1940s and early 1950s most states had sealed adoption court records but, typically, sealed original birth certificates from all individuals except adult adoptees. While the 1950s and 1960s saw an increase in those that advocated for original birth certificates to be sealed from all persons, including adult adoptees as well as an increase in the number of states that altered laws to reflect those sentiments, it was between 1960 and 1990 that all but a handful of states closed adult adoptee access to birth records. Pennsylvania sealed birth records in 1985.

However, despite evidence that most people with adoption experience support access to birth records, legislation across the county has been repeatedly stymied. Reasons for this vary from some who state that many do not understand why records were sealed in the first place to an unfounded yet prevalent belief that parents were ensured confidentiality forever.

The controversial push to open adoption records is driven in part by the increased interest among adoptees to understand their ancestral roots; some want to establish relationships and others are more interested in their family medical histories. While the legislative battle often pits an adoptee’s right to his or her birth certificate against a birth parent’s right to privacy, the movement toward access is growing with a number of legislative initiatives across the county.

I ask that you join me in providing adoptees the opportunity to discover their identity, if they so choose. We do not restrict this information from any other human being, including children in foster care; we should not restrict access to their existence either. Please contact Amy anoel@pahousegop.com or 717-783-1918 if you have any questions.

Former Cosponsors: BOBACK , CALTAGIRONE , CLYMER , D. COSTA, DAVIS, DENLINGER , EVERETT , FARRY, FLECK , FRANKEL , GILLEN, GINGRICH , GROVE, HARHART , HARRIS , JOSEPHS , KAVULICH, KNOWLES, MILLARD , D. O'BRIEN , PICKETT , RAPP , K. SMITH , SONNEY , SWANGER , VULAKOVICH and ROCK



Introduced as HB162