PRINTER'S NO. 311

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA


HOUSE BILL

No. 278 Session of 1983


        INTRODUCED BY FREIND, LEVIN, ARTY, E. Z. TAYLOR, J. L. WRIGHT,
           CALTAGIRONE, VROON, TRELLO, PUNT, JACKSON, MICOZZIE,
           LETTERMAN, McVERRY AND GREENWOOD, FEBRUARY 16, 1983

        REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, FEBRUARY 16, 1983

                                     AN ACT

     1  Amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania
     2     Consolidated Statutes, providing a procedure for access by an
     3     adoptee or his adoptive parent or legal guardian to certain
     4     information concerning his natural parents; imposing
     5     penalties; and making certain repeals.

     6     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     7  hereby enacts as follows:
     8     Section 1.  Section 2905 of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania
     9  Consolidated Statutes is amended to read:
    10  § 2905.  Impounding of proceedings and access to records.
    11     (a)  General rule.--All petitions, exhibits, reports, notes
    12  of testimony, decrees, and other papers pertaining to any
    13  proceeding under this part or former statutes relating to
    14  adoption shall be kept in the files of the court as a permanent
    15  record thereof and withheld from inspection except on an order
    16  of court granted upon cause shown or except as otherwise
    17  provided in this section. Any report required to be filed under
    18  sections 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) and
    19  2535 (relating to investigation) shall be made available to

     1  parties to an adoption proceeding only after all identifying
     2  names and addresses in the report have been extirpated by the
     3  court.
     4     (b)  Petition to court for limited information.--Upon
     5  petition by any adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if less
     6  than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian, to the court in
     7  the judicial district in which the permanent records relating to
     8  the adoption have been impounded, the court shall furnish to the
     9  adoptee as much information concerning the adoptee's natural
    10  parents as will not endanger the anonymity of the natural
    11  parents. The information shall first be reviewed in camera by
    12  the court to insure that no information is revealed which would
    13  endanger the anonymity of the natural parents. The court shall,
    14  upon motion of the adoptee, examine the entire record to
    15  determine if any additional information can safely be revealed
    16  without endangering the anonymity of the natural parents.
    17     (c)  Access to identity of natural parents.--
    18         (1)  Upon petition of an adoptee at least 18 years of age
    19     or, if less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian,
    20     the court may also attempt to contact the natural parents, if
    21     known, to obtain their consent to release their identity and
    22     present place of residence to the adoptee. The petition may
    23     state the reasons why the adoptee desires to contact his
    24     natural parents which reasons shall be disclosed to the
    25     natural parents if contacted. However, the court shall take
    26     care that none but the natural parents themselves are
    27     informed of the adoptee's existence and relationship to them.
    28     The court may refuse to contact the natural parents if it
    29     believes that under the circumstances there would be a
    30     substantial risk that persons other than the natural parents
    19830H0278B0311                  - 2 -

     1     would learn of the adoptee's existence and relationship to
     2     the natural parents. In lieu of the court contacting the
     3     natural parents, the court may designate an agency to act in
     4     its place.
     5         (2)  In addition to petitioning the court to contact the
     6     natural parents, an adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if
     7     less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian, may
     8     request the agency that placed the adoptee to contact his
     9     natural parents. If the agency agrees to attempt to contact
    10     the natural parents, it shall do so pursuant to the same
    11     safeguards provided for court inquiries in paragraph (1).
    12         (3)  If the court or an agency contacts the natural
    13     parents of an adoptee pursuant to a petition or request made
    14     under paragraph (1) or (2), information relating to both
    15     natural parents shall only be disclosed to the adoptee if
    16     both natural parents agree to the disclosure. If both of the
    17     natural parents are deceased, no information relating to
    18     either parent shall be disclosed to the adoptee under this
    19     subsection. However, the fact that both natural parents are
    20     deceased shall be disclosed. If only one parent agrees to the
    21     disclosure or if one parent agrees and the other is deceased,
    22     then only the information relating to the agreeing parent
    23     shall be disclosed.
    24     (d)  Disclosure of information on original certificate of
    25  birth.--
    26         (1)  No disclosure of information shall be made by the
    27     court, an agency, the Department of Health or any other
    28     Commonwealth agency regarding the adopted person's original
    29     certificate of birth or regarding the documents of proof on
    30     which the amended certificate of birth is based or relating
    19830H0278B0311                  - 3 -

     1     in any way to the natural parents unless the disclosure is
     2     made pursuant to the provisions of this section.
     3         (2)  Notwithstanding any other provision in this section
     4     to the contrary, the natural parents may, at the time of the
     5     relinquishment of their parental rights pursuant to Chapter
     6     25 (relating to proceedings prior to petition to adopt),
     7     place on file with the court and with the Department of
     8     Health a consent form granting permission for the court or
     9     the department to disclose the information contained in the
    10     adoptee's original certificate of birth pertaining to the
    11     natural parents at any time after the adoptee attains the age
    12     of 18 or, if less than 18, to his adoptive parent or legal
    13     guardian. If both parents give their consent, the information
    14     on the birth certificate may be disclosed. If only one parent
    15     gives consent or if one gives consent and the other is
    16     deceased, only the identity of the consenting parent shall be
    17     disclosed. The natural parents shall be entitled to update
    18     those records, as necessary, to reflect the natural parent's
    19     current address. The information may only be disclosed upon
    20     the request of the adoptee or his adoptive parent or legal
    21     guardian and the consent of the natural parents may be
    22     withdrawn at any time by filing a withdrawal of consent form
    23     with the court and the department. The department shall
    24     prescribe by regulation the procedure and forms to be
    25     utilized for the giving, updating and withdrawal of the
    26     consent.
    27     Section 2.  Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:
    28  § 2910.  Penalty for unauthorized disclosure.
    29     (a)  Criminal penalty.--Any officer or employee of the court,
    30  the Department of Health or any agency who discloses impounded
    19830H0278B0311                  - 4 -

     1  or otherwise confidential information relating to an adoption
     2  other than as expressly authorized and provided in this chapter
     3  commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.
     4     (b)  Action for invasion of privacy.--A natural parent who
     5  does not agree to be identified shall have a cause of action for
     6  invasion of privacy against the natural parent who, without
     7  authorization, discloses the other natural parent's identity.
     8     Section 3.  Sections 603(c), 801 and 804 of the act of June
     9  29, 1953 (P.L.304, No.66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of
    10  1953, are repealed insofar as they are inconsistent with 23
    11  Pa.C.S § 2905 (relating to impounding of proceedings and access
    12  to records).
    13     Section 4.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.












    A19L23RW/19830H0278B0311         - 5 -