HARRISBURG – After eight years of legislative negotiations, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) legislation to reinstate Pennsylvania-born adult adoptees’ rights to access their original birth certificates is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
“I thank my colleagues in the House and the Senate for their support,” Benninghoff said. “Together, we have finally restored adoptees rightful access to their own personal information.”
Under current Pennsylvania law, adoptees may petition the courts for a copy of their original birth records; however, that request may be denied by a judge. Benninghoff’s legislation, House Bill 162, would reinstate the right of adult adoptees to apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate, like all other Pennsylvanians.
To address privacy concerns, the bill was amended to allow birth parents to redact their names following the law’s effective date. Birth parents who choose not to redact their names can submit a contact preference form to indicate whether or not they wish to be contacted.
Under the legislation, birth parents who choose to either redact their names or submit a contact preference form – even those who choose “no contact” as their preference – would still be required to provide medical history information to be kept on file for the adoptee.
Adoptees will be eligible to apply for a copy of their original birth certificates one year after the bill is signed into law.
After years of debate, Benninghoff’s bill passed the House in December 2015 with a vote of 187-7 and passed the Senate this week with a unanimous vote of 47-0. The bill passed, once more, on concurrence today in the House and can now be signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“This fight has always been about fairness and the fundamental right of Pennsylvania adoptees to have access to the one legal document that legitimizes their existence here on this earth,” Benninghoff said.
“This is truly a day of celebration for Pennsylvania-born adoptees located all around the country who have been waiting ever-so patiently for these rights.”
Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner
KerryBenninghoff.com / Facebook.com/RepBenninghoff