Access to Adoption Records - Pennsylvania

Date:

Who May Access Information

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2924; 2931

The following persons may request information from the registry, the court that finalized the adoption, or the agency that coordinated the adoption:

  • An adoptee who is at least age 18
  • An adoptive parent of an adoptee who is younger than age 18, incapacitated, or deceased
  • A legal guardian of an adoptee who is younger than age 18 or incapacitated
  • A descendant of a deceased adoptee
  • The birth parent of an adoptee who is at least age 21
  • A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee who is at least age 21, if the birth parent consents or is incapacitated or deceased
  • A birth sibling of an adoptee, if both the birth sibling and adoptee are at least age 21, and the following apply:
    • The birth sibling remained in the custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents or is deceased or incapacitated.
    • Both the birth sibling and adoptee were adopted out of the same birth family.
    • The birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.

A person listed above may request nonidentifying or identifying information about or contact with the following persons:

  • An adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • A birth parent of an adoptee
  • A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee who is age 21 or older, if the birth parent consents or is incapacitated or deceased
  • A birth sibling of an adoptee, if both the birth sibling and the adoptee are age 21 or older, and the following apply:
    • The birth sibling remained in the custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents or is deceased or incapacitated.
    • Both the birth sibling and adoptee were adopted out of the same birth family.
    • The birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2925; 2932; 2934

Nonidentifying information available to the registry shall be provided to the requester within 30 days of the request. Before the release of information, the department shall remove any identifying information, unless release has been authorized in writing by the subject of the information.

When the court or agency receives a written request for nonidentifying information, it shall, within 30 days, notify the requester of its receipt of the request. The court or agency shall, within 120 days, review its records and furnish to the requester any information concerning the adoption that will not compromise the confidentiality of the relationship between the adoptee and the adoptee's birth parent.

Medical and social history information may be filed with the court that terminated parental rights or finalized the adoption, the agency that coordinated the adoption, or the information registry.

The following persons may at any time file, update, and request medical and social history information:

  • An adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • An adoptive parent of an adoptee who is younger than age 18 or incapacitated
  • A descendant of a deceased adoptee
  • A birth parent
  • A legal guardian of an incapacitated birth parent
  • A survivor of a deceased birth parent

When the court or agency receives a written request for medical and social history information, it shall notify the requester within 120 days whether it possesses any medical and social history information related to the adoption.

For nonidentifying information, the court or agency shall, within 120 days of locating the information, review and furnish to the requester any medical and social history information that will not compromise confidentiality.

If the requester is an adoptee seeking information about a birth parent who is deceased, any information on file regarding the deceased birth parent may be disclosed.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2912; 2925; 2933; 2934

The Department of Public Welfare shall establish a statewide confidential registry for the retention of medical and social history information for all adoptions finalized or registered in the State.

For identifying information from the registry, if an authorization form is on file, the department shall notify the requester within 30 days whether information may be released. If there is no authorization on file, the department shall designate an authorized representative to use reasonable efforts to locate the subject of the request and obtain written authorization before any information is released.

An authorization form allowing the release of identifying information may be withdrawn at any time by the person who signed the form.

The court or agency, within 120 days of receiving a written request for identifying information or contact, shall determine whether it has any records relating to the adoptee and conduct a good faith search for identifying information. A representative shall review the court and agency record for identifying information regarding the birth or adoptive family and shall determine whether an authorization form has been filed.

If the requester is an adoptee seeking the identity of a birth parent, the identity of and any information about a deceased birth parent may be disclosed. If the requester is an adoptee seeking the identity of both birth parents and only one birth parent agrees to the disclosure, only the information relating to that birth parent shall be disclosed.

When the court or agency receives a written request for medical and social history information, it shall notify the requester within 120 days whether it possesses any information. For identifying information, if an authorization form is on file, the information will be released.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2937

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an adoptee who is at least age 18 and who has graduated from high school, completed a general educational development program, or has legally withdrawn from secondary schooling or, if the adoptee is deceased, the adoptee's descendants, may apply to the Department of Health for the adoptee's noncertified copy of the original birth record. Subject to the provisions below, the department shall issue a noncertified copy of the original birth record within 45 days of receipt of an application.

The department shall develop and, upon request, make available to each birth parent named on the original birth certificate a contact preference form on which the birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adoptee who is the birth child of the birth parent. Upon such request, the department also shall provide the birth parent with an updated medical history form, which shall be completed and returned, together with the completed contact preference form, by the birth parent to the department. The contact preference form shall provide the birth parent with the following options, from which the birth parent shall select one:

  • I would like to be contacted.
  • I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary.
  • Do not contact me.

A birth parent may request that the birth parent's name be redacted from a noncertified copy of the original birth record issued to an adoptee by completing a birth parent's name redaction request form. The department shall file an accepted name redaction request form in the adoption file of the adoptee to whom the form pertains. If the birth parent dies after submitting a name redaction request form, a noncertified copy of the original birth record may be provided to the adoptee without redaction of the deceased birth parent's name.

An application for a noncertified copy of the original birth record shall be in a form acceptable to the department and shall include the following information:

  • The adoptee's current name and name assumed at the time of adoption
  • The adoptee's address and telephone number
  • The adoptee's age and date of birth
  • The adoptee's gender at birth
  • Proof of identification
  • Any other information required by the department, but only to the extent necessary to verify the identity of the applicant, locate the relevant records, or provide the adoptee's noncertified copy of original birth record to the adoptee

Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit disclosure of an adoptee's birth record to the birth parents of an adoptee.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Biological Parent Consent Registry