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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 16, 2019 03:55 PM
From: Representative Tarah Toohil
To: All House members
Subject: Witnessing Consent to Adoption by an Incarcerated Parent
In the near future I plan to re-introduce previous HB 61, legislation aimed at reforming and improving Pennsylvania’s adoption laws.

Current state law (23 Pa.C.S. § 2711(d)(2)) requires that a parent consenting to the adoption of his/her child must have his/her signature witnessed by two individuals in order to have a valid consent. This presents a challenge for parents who are incarcerated. Often times, due to housing restrictions of the inmate, the inmate cannot obtain the necessary witness signatures required for a valid consent.

In a review of these cases, the correctional staff often refuses to serve as witnesses because they believe they are not permitted to do so. This often leads to the Courts of Common Pleas across the Commonwealth expending unnecessary monies to appoint an attorney for the inmate to determine his/her consent. The Courts also are making arrangements to have the inmate available either in person, telephonically or via closed circuit television to determine whether the inmate is indeed consenting to the adoption in order to protect the adoption process.

In order to save taxpayer dollars from being unnecessarily expended I am proposing that 23 Pa.C.S. § 2711(d)(2) be amended to explicitly state that correctional staff are permitted to witness the consent of the incarcerated parent. In addition, it is proposed that the form for consent indicate that correctional staff are permitted to serve as witnesses to the form and should do so in order to effectuate the administration of justice.

Please join me and co-sponsor this important legislation.

Introduced as HB235