Allegheny County Court Response to Adoption Search Inquiry

2001 response

In the Court of Common Pleas
Of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Orphans’ Court Division
1700 Frick Building
437 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
April 12, 2001 Dear Ms. Shay: In response to your letter of April 4, 1001, an adopted person in Pennsylvania may request information from his or her adoption record, including a request to locate birthparents, by placing the request in writing and sending the signed letter here, to the Orphans’ Court, at the address shown above. Upon receipt of the adoptee’s letter, the Court will assign an agent to handle the adoptee’s request. That agent can provide non-identifying information to the adoptee, begin a search for the biological parent(s), or with permission of the birthparent(s), may provide identifying information to the adoptee. The cost for receiving information or for a search will vary, depending upon which agent is assigned. The agent assigned, according to statute must either be the local“county children and youth agency” or a licensed private agency which provides adoption services. Pennsylvania law does not, at present, permit biological parents to request a search for the child place for adoption. A birthparent may send a “waiver of confidentiality” to the Orphans’ Court, which will be placed in the file of the adoptee and will indicate the willingness of the parent to have contact with the adoptee, in the event the adoptee should request a search for a birthparent(s). If “waivers of confidentiality” are on file from both the adoptee and the biological parent(s), then an agent would be assigned to act asthe intermediary in setting up a reunion, if that is what the parties' desire. The names of the agencies the Court assigns are as follows: The Adoption Connection
Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family Services
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Inc.
The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh
Jewish Family and Children’s Services
Lutheran Services Society
I am enclosing the Orphans’ Court Adoption Search brochure and a separate form which indicates the information we need in order to searchfor an adoption record. The names, addresses and phone numbers here at the Court are provided on this form. I hope I have responded to all your questions. The answers to many other typically asked questions are contained in the enclosed brochure. Very truly yours, Janice McNamara Adoption Coordinator [NOTE: A copy of the Common Questions brochure is on PAC’s Web site at:] Procedures on Petitioning the Courts As to Adoptee’s Requests The adoptee must put his/her request in writing to the Courts. In that letter, we need adoptee’s Date of Birth, full adoptive name; adoptive parents full name; the date ofadoption (if known.) If you have any other information as to your adoption, please supply that also. Be specific as to what you need done. If you want non-identifying information, medical information or search for birth parents, make sure you state that. This Court does not supply you with information on you or your birth parents. The Court will appoint an agent to beassigned to supply you with non-identifying or medical information or the actual search. Due to the volume of search requests, there is a waiting list with most agencies. Any fees involved in this process are levied by the search agent, not the Court. Mail your letter to: Court of Common Pleas
Orphans’ Court Division
1700 Frick Building
437 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Attention: Janice McNamara, Adoption Coordinator IT IS VERY IMPORTANT, that your current address, current telephone number (day and evening) is in your letter and please do not forget to sign your letter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact either Jan McNamara at (412) 350-54579 or Leacy A. Brown, Clerk Typist(2) at (412) 350-5749.

1999 response

                  3-1-99 from Janice McNamara, Orphans' Court 

                  An adopted person who wishes to obtain either identifying or non-identifying
                  information on his or her adoption should place the request in writing and
                  send it to the Adoption Department at the above address.   This Department
                  will retrieve the file and assign an agent to review the record and respond to
                  the adoptee.  The search agent may then provide the adoptee with non-
                  identifying information, or if the person wishes more, in the way of
                  identifying information, may begin a search for biological parents in order to
                  obtain there permission before divulging any identifying information to the
                  adoptee. Any fees involved in this process are levied by the search agent, not
                  by the Court.

                  The Adoption Department will place either a letter waiving confidentiality or
                  an official "Waiver of Confidentiality" form received from either a
                  birthparent or an adoptee, in the adoption file. The "waiver" should be sent
                  directly here, to the Adoption Department, the fille will be pulled and the
                  "waiver" placed into it.  We will then send a letter advising either the parent 
                  or adoptee that we have done so.

                  If both adoptee and the birthparent have filed a "Waiver of Confidentiality,"
                  a search agent would still be assigned to contact the parties, verify the
                  documents, and then acts as intermediary in imparting the desired information
                  or instituting a reunion, if that is desired.

                  The use of a search agent in these matters, besides being required by law if
                  identifying information is requested, is also used for the purposes of
                  releasing non-identifying information.  Given the volume of requests a county
                  the size of Allegheny County receives and the number of adoptions that have
                  taken place here over the years, it is the most expeditious way of handling
                  these requests.

                  I hope I have addressed all of your questions.  If there is anything I missed
                  or you think of anything else, please feel free to contact me.

                  Very truly yours,
                  Janice McNamara
                  Adoption Coordinator

                  Orphans' Court of Allegheny County
                  437 Grant Street
                  1700 Frick Building
                  Pittsburgh, PA 15219
                  Telephone: (412) 350- 5545
                  Send letters to the Attention of Janice McNamara, Adoption Coordinator

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