Pa. adoptees right to birth certificate restored

November is National Adoption Month.

November 2016 is especially significant for adopted adults born in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This past Nov. 3, Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill162 into law.

Effective Nov. 3, 2017, adoptees at age 18 will have the right to their original birth certificate (OBC) for the first time since 1984. If the adoptee is deceased, descendants can request a copy of the adoptee’s OBC.

Adoptees will now have that one piece of paper evidencing the first chapter in their lives and the name of their birth parent(s).

The new law allows birth parents to file a redaction to have their name deleted from the OBC, but they must file a medical history form to be given to the adopted person. The state Department of Health has seven months to develop all the necessary forms.

The new law is not perfect, but it is the culmination of seven years of hard work and dedication on the part of state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, himself an adoptee, along with Rep. Katharine Watson, an adoptive parent, and others advocating for fairness and truth.

For the first time in over 30 years, Pennsylvania-born adoptees will enjoy the same right as non-adopted citizens: The right to their birth information.