PRIOR PRINTER'S NOS. 311, 3080                PRINTER'S NO. 3323



No. 278 Session of 1983


           JUNE 27, 1984

                                     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

     1  2535 (relating to investigation) shall be made available to
     2  parties to an adoption proceeding only after all identifying
     3  names and addresses in the report have been extirpated by the
     4  court.
     5     (b)  Petition to court for limited information.--Upon
     6  petition by any adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if less
     7  than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian, to the court in
     8  the judicial district in which the permanent records relating to
     9  the adoption have been impounded, the court shall furnish to the
    10  adoptee as much information concerning the adoptee's natural
    11  parents as will not endanger the anonymity of the natural
    12  parents. The information shall first be reviewed in camera by
    13  the court to insure that no information is revealed which would
    14  endanger the anonymity of the natural parents. The court shall,
    15  upon motion of the adoptee, examine the entire record to
    16  determine if any additional information can safely be revealed
    17  without endangering the anonymity of the natural parents.
    18     (c)  Access to identity of natural parents.--
    19         (1)  Upon petition of an adoptee at least 18 years of age
    20     or, if less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian,
    21     the court may also, through its designated agent, attempt to
    22     contact the natural parents, if known, to obtain their
    23     consent to release their identity and present place of
    24     residence to the adoptee. The petition may state the reasons
    25     why the adoptee desires to contact his natural parents which
    26     reasons shall be disclosed to the natural parents if
    27     contacted. However, the court and its agents shall take care
    28     that none but the natural parents themselves are informed of
    29     the adoptee's existence and relationship to them. The court
    30     may refuse to contact the natural parents if it believes that
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     1     under the circumstances there would be a substantial risk
     2     that persons other than the natural parents would learn of
     3     the adoptee's existence and relationship to the natural
     4     parents. The court shall appoint either the county children
     5     and youth agency, or a private agency which provides adoption
     6     services in accordance with standards established by the
     7     Department of Public Welfare, to contact the natural parents
     8     as its designated agent.
     9         (2)  In addition to petitioning the court to contact the
    10     natural parents, an adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if
    11     less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian, may
    12     request the agency that placed the adoptee to contact his
    13     natural parents. If the agency agrees to attempt to contact
    14     the natural parents, it shall do so pursuant to the same
    15     safeguards provided for court inquiries in paragraph (1).
    16         (3)  If the court or an agency contacts the natural
    17     parents of an adoptee pursuant to a petition or request made
    18     under paragraph (1) or (2), except as hereinafter provided,
    19     information relating to both natural parents shall only be
    20     disclosed to the adoptee if both natural parents agree to the
    21     disclosure. If both of the natural parents are deceased,
    22     their identities may be disclosed. If one parent is deceased,
    23     his or her identity may be disclosed. If only one parent
    24     agrees to the disclosure, then only the information relating
    25     to the agreeing parent shall be disclosed.
    26         (4)  The Department of Public Welfare may by regulation
    27     prescribe procedures related to contact of natural parents by
    28     designated agents of the court.
    29     (d)  Disclosure of information on original certificate of
    30  birth.--
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     1         (1)  No disclosure of information shall be made by the
     2     court, an agency, the Department of Health or any other
     3     Commonwealth agency regarding the adopted person's original
     4     certificate of birth or regarding the documents of proof on
     5     which the amended certificate of birth is based or relating
     6     in any way to the natural parents unless the disclosure is
     7     made pursuant to the provisions of this section.
     8         (2)  Notwithstanding any other provision in this section
     9     to the contrary, the natural parents may, at the time of the
    10     relinquishment of their parental rights pursuant to Chapter
    11     25 (relating to proceedings prior to petition to adopt), or
    12     at any time thereafter, place on file with the court and with
    13     the Department of Health a consent form granting permission
    14     for the court or the department to disclose the information
    15     contained in the adoptee's original certificate of birth, or
    16     any other identifying or nonidentifying information
    17     pertaining to the natural parents at any time after the
    18     adoptee attains the age of 18 or, if less than 18, to his
    19     adoptive parent or legal guardian. If both parents give their
    20     consent, the information on the birth certificate may be
    21     disclosed. If only one parent gives consent, only the
    22     identity of the consenting parent shall be disclosed. The
    23     natural parents shall be entitled to update those records, as
    24     necessary, to reflect the natural parent's current address or
    25     any other information pertaining to the natural parents. The
    26     information may only be disclosed upon the request of the
    27     adoptee or his adoptive parent or legal guardian and the
    28     consent of the natural parents may be withdrawn at any time
    29     by filing a withdrawal of consent form with the court and the
    30     department. The department shall prescribe by regulation the
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     1     procedure and forms to be utilized for the giving, updating
     2     and withdrawal of the consent.
     3     Section 2.  Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:
     4  § 2910.  Penalty for unauthorized disclosure.
     5     (a)  Criminal penalty.--Any officer or employee of the court,  <--
     6  other than a judge thereof, the Department of Health or any
     7  agency who willfully discloses impounded or otherwise
     8  confidential information relating to an adoption other than as
     9  expressly authorized and provided in this chapter commits a
    10  misdemeanor of the third degree.
    11     (b)  Action for invasion of privacy.--A natural parent who     <--
    12  does not agree to be identified shall have a cause of action for
    13  invasion of privacy against the natural parent who, without
    14  authorization, discloses the other natural parent's identity.
    15     Section 3.  Sections 603(c), 801 and 804 of the act of June
    16  29, 1953 (P.L.304, No.66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of
    17  1953, are repealed insofar as they are inconsistent with 23
    18  Pa.C.S § 2905 (relating to impounding of proceedings and access
    19  to records).
    20     Section 4.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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