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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Until now, adoptees over 18 couldn't apply for their birth records because their adoption records were sealed. Folks that have not been adopted have always had this ability, but sadly, it was not so easy for those that were released by their birth parents. For 33 years, adoptees have been required to petition the courts for their own birth certificate, and even then the petition could be denied by a judge.
Why get a birth certificate as an adoptee in Pennsylvania?
There are many reasons why someone might need their birth certificate, and a major reason is to learn the medical history of their biological family. Biological parents are required to complete their medical history to give to the adoptee, whether or not the parent ever wants to have contact with their child. This is because it is important to know where one stands in the biological lottery of life so that preventive measures can be taken if necessary. Another major reason is to gain more of a sense of identity. A birth certificate provides hard sought clues about a person's heritage. Rep. Kerry Benninghoff expressed that, for an adoptee, a birth certificate is "one legal document that legitimizes their existence here on earth." Now, an adoptee will be able to potentially learn the names and ages of their parent, the county where they were born, and confirm their birth date and name.
Why wasn't this available before?
In the past, the Pennsylvania adoption law was trying to protect the privacy of birth parents. The government also wanted to discourage abortions by women that were staunchly determined never to be contacted by their child, a concern by religious groups. Even with this new law, birth parents can request redaction at any time, and the redaction can also be reversed should they have a change of heart. Efforts are being made to make birth parents aware that their right to redact their names still exists.
The new process for Pennsylvania adoption law records
By simply submitting an application to the state Department of Health, the adoptee, their children, and their grandchildren are able to successfully make this request. They only need to pay $20 and wait roughly 45 days for it to process.
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