The Judge Made Me Hire a Lawyer.

Yes, I know, the Constitution says I am entitled to "pro se bono" representation, meaning, I can represent myself in court. I have been told the judge will not accept my petition except through an attorney. Why? Could be my handwriting. Could be he wants his friends to have more work. Could be he's just bureaucratic. Could be he wants to see if I REALLY want to petition the court for my own damn information. Some adoptees have point blank said "Show me in the law where it says that I have to hire a lawyer." Good question. But who wants to piss off the judge who's deciding your case?


Anyhow, here's what happened to one man who got told this. He bit the bullet and went out and got quotes from lawyers on petitioning the court to have his adoption records opened and a searcher appointed. The cheapest he found was $ 300.

It worked, insofar as his petition was granted and an adoption social worker was appointed to conduct the search. She's not a detective, and guess what? She didn't find. For all we know, this adoptee's mother is somewhere worried about him, wondering if she is being resented, praying she made a good decision for him, hoping he won't inheirit whatever the family's medical condition is. But because of that old and false "confidentiality" argument, this adoptee will probably lay out more money til his search is done.

But why don't you take a look at these documents that cost three hundred clams and see what you think they are worth? Can you put a price on knowing who you are and where you come from? No. But you sure can put a price on a simple petition.

Thank you, Your Honor. It's certainly clear now that this is a highly technical legal procedure necessitating the paid services of an attorney.

Pennsylvania Adoption Search and Education Links


PAFind EMAIL LIST - a FREE e-mail list of PA searchers helping one another.

STATE REGISTRIES AND POLITICS - Why neither are helping PA searchers much.

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?

NON-ID - Learn what it is, and how to ask for it.


PA ADOPTION LAW - the easy version or the actual wording.

ADOPTION GROUPS - known in PA that handle search, support, legislation 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.

1997-present. Click for disclaimer and additional copyright information.

Adoption Activism
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