Politics and State Registries
The state has their own webpage with more information on the registries they offer. You can see it here.
PA had one big omnibus bill that was defeated that would have overhauled adoption law. It was probably trying to please too many people and do too much. If you'd like to see it, info on old Senate Bill 859 is here.
PA's BIOLOGICAL PARENT ADOPTION REGISTRY:
RIDE THE DINOSAUR, KIDS!
It's a lousy system, but it's all we have: The Bureau of Vital Statistics brings you the Biological Parent Registry. It's a nifty one-way registry that doesn't register much. Here's how it works: If you are a birthparent seeking your biological offspring, you fill out a Biological Parent Identification Form and mail it in. It's put in your file. It sits there. You do nothing. If you are an adoptee searching, you pay the state $4 to tell you if your b-parent has filled out such a form. If they have, you get identifying info. (That's assuming your b-parents HEARD about the registry at all.) If there's no form in their file, the fact you looked for them is not recorded anywhere, so if your b-parent later fills out a form, you and they are never told. The form just sits there until you feel like coughing up another four bucks to inquire again. It's prehistoric, but it's all we have right now, so go for it and best of luck to you. When I called I was told "a hundred some" b-parents had filled out the forms in the last year, and the number of matches made was "not available" but acknowledged to be "a handful". Wanna try anyhow? Will you be one of the lucky few? Call the voice-mail-jail at the Bureau for instructions on inquiries and filing the forms at (724) 656-3100. There's apparently enough inquiries to put in an automated phone system, but not enough to set up a helpful database. You may also want to use their website to get more specific info. It's here.
Some people think "mutual consent" registries address all needs. They don't. Ever hear of a dead person registering? Will a lied-to adoptee who was never told they were adopted use one? And registries won't help people with falsified birth information. A registry still is not allowing an adoptee a real birth certificate either. It only perpetuates the discrimination and shame.
And - some less-knowledgable supporters of a recent bill, SB859 (and even the old UAA) say it's such a great bill because it will set up a state registry. HELLO? We have two and they don't work! They are low tech, unpromoted, unknown, and they don't address equal rights in adoption.
PA HEALTH REGISTRY FOR ADOPTEES:
GOOD INTENTIONS, BUT HOW EFFECTIVE?
Has the legislature of Pennsylvania created yet another ineffective voluntary registry that no one knows about? This one is supposed to allow adoptees access to their medical histories- again, assuming birthparents heard of it and follow through. Apparently medical histories are a just a luxury for adoptees, since there is no mandate for relinquishing birthparents to use this vehicle for communication. It was proposed by a legislator whose grandchild became ill. You guessed it! His daughter in law, the child's mother, was an adoptee, and suddenly the need for medical history became clearer. This is not to scoff at this sad story, but to point out that it is hard for elected officials to understand the impact of adoption in even the most basic way until it hits home. If you want to get information on the health registry, call 1-800-227-0225 or write to: Hillcrest, 2nd Floor, P.O. Box 2675, Harrisburg, PA 17105. Or you can use the state's page here.
The UAA (Uniform Adoption Act) is a proposed law (thankfully shot down here in PA, but getting marketed around the country and so far blessedly ignored) which would make it CRIMINAL for you to search for your biological family (A FELONY!) and make it criminal for anyone to help you. Additionally, it allows a relinquishing birthmother a whopping eight days post-birth to change her mind. (It is dead here in PA, but was sponsored by Ed Krebs (Lebanon County) and was identified as House Bill 654.) Keep your eyes peeled- this ugly piece of legislation could turn up anywhere in the US.
Hey searching birthparents and adoptees- feel like you're going around in circles? Feel like you are being treated like a perpetual child since the state seems to think it knows what's best for you? Small wonder in PA! Sorry, WHEN did it become the role of the state to regulate the private lives of adults?
WILL LEGISLATION MAKE YOU A CRIMINAL FOR SEARCHING?
Senator Stewart Greenleaf, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee helped defeat the UAA in PA by helping urge the creation of Task Force to study adoption law here, and the results are in and a bill created- that's SB859. It was good, but needed amendment, so it's best it did not pass.
Thanks, Mr. Greenleaf, and legislators like you for recognizing that adopted people are not children forever!
Let's take a clue from OREGON- where Measure 58 was voted in by the people of the state, allowing adult adoptees access to their own birth certificates. And now a wonderful adjunct measure to this has been added which allows a birthparent to file a "CPF"- Contact Preference Form. What this means, is that when an adult adoptee asks for his or her own original birth certificate, they also get a private message from their birthparent stating whether or not they desire contact from their adopted child. Beautiful- adoptees get treated like every other citizen and birthparents' voices can be heard. Other states have followed like Alabama, New Hampshire... and who's next?
SO TO THE NCFA AND THE CLOSED RECORDS FANS, STOP TRYING TO ARGUE THAT OPEN BIRTH RECORDS FOR ADOPTEES IMPINGES ON SOMEONE ELSE'S RIGHTS. STOP ARGUING THAT BIRTHPARENTS AND ADOPTEES CANNOT HANDLE THEIR OWN AFFAIRS- THEY CAN AND WILL WITHOUT PAID INTERMEDIARIES TO "ORCHESTRATE" A REUNION.
This is not a battle of adoptees versus birthparents, it is a cooperative venture to allow parties to speak for themselves.
Back to PA ADOPTION SEARCH MENU, main page
PAFind EMAIL LIST - a FREE e-mail list of PA searchers helping one another.
RELINQUISHMENT PAPERS - Like to see an example of PA relinquishment papers?
YOUR OLD AGENCY - Backtrack here for possible help in search.
COUNTY OF FINALIZATION - Some county specific info. You need to find this out and it may not be where you think.
THE DECREE - Adoptee is adopted in the county of finalization, records now sealed. Want to see a decree?
FORMAL PETITION - Learn how some counties make it a bit harder.
NON-ID - Learn what it is, and how to ask for it.
WAIVERS OF CONFIDENTIALITY - File them!
PA ADOPTION LAW - the easy version or the actual wording.
ADOPTION GROUPS - known in PA that handle search, support, legisilation or all three.
SEARCH BASICS - In addition to this whole menu, here's a list of ways to search and try to be found.
PHONE CALL AND LETTER IDEAS - When you are close to making that respectful first contact.
SEARCH SUCKS! I NEED A *@$#! BREAK! - Take one, pal.
HIRING A SEARCHER OR PI? - Caveat emptor! Read some parameters and cautions.
THE UNIFORM ADOPTION ACT or UAA - Learn more about "The Evil Act". Coming to PA or your state?
CITY PAPER - Coverage of adoption search, law and the UAA in PA.
PERSONAL ESSAY - on adoption with info for all sides of the triad.
REGISTRIES AND GENERAL (NON-PA) ADOPTION STUFF - links to varied good places.