The Pennsylvania Senate Aging and Youth Committee amended House Bill 162, before voting it out of committee by a vote of 9-2. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in October 2013. The initial proposal would have required the Pennsylvania Department of Health to provide a summary of an adoptee’s original birth record without the consent of the birth parents. The amendment made by the committee today provides some consideration of birth parents who do not wish to reveal their identifying information, but the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference will need further review to study the implications.
Catholic agencies have been placing adoptees with loving families for many decades. Our agencies today work regularly with all those involved in adoption proceedings and are keenly aware of the pain, frustration, and even anger being felt by many adoptees who want to identify their birth mothers. At the same time, however, we have assisted and continue to assist many birth mothers who have placed a child for adoption but still choose to have their identities remain private for various reasons. Some of these women have been victims of rape or incest. Others may have started new lives and families. Still others are not yet ready to be identified.
The PCC believes all of these parties have rights which must be reasonably respected if adoption proceedings and, in this case, efforts to identify the parties involved are to be successful.
Know someone facing an adoption decision? www.adoptionpa.org is a website that connects mothers and families with a Catholic adoption agency in their area and also offers encouragement and support to those who experience unintended pregnancies.