Starting today, Pennsylvania adult adoptees have access to original birth
certificates for the first time since 1984
HARRISBURG – After eight years of negotiations, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) legislation to reinstate the rights of Pennsylvania adult adoptees to apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate finally became law on Nov. 3, 2016. One year later, the state Department of Health (DOH) has begun processing those requests for the first time since 1984.
“After years of working to gain rightful access to their own personal information, Pennsylvania adoptees can now apply for and receive their original birth certificates,” 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.”
Under previous Pennsylvania law, adoptees could petition the courts for a copy of their original birth records; however, that request could have been denied by a judge. Benninghoff’s legislation, now Act 127, reinstated the rights of adult adoptees to apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate, like all other Pennsylvanians.
Benninghoff’s bill passed the House in December 2015 with a vote of 187-7 and passed the Senate unanimously in October 2016. The House concurred on Oct. 25, 2016, sending the long-debated bill to the governor’s desk, where it was signed into law.
Although DOH did not officially begin processing adoptees’ requests until today, the department has been accepting applications since June of this year. As of Oct. 31, 1,180 adoptees have already applied for a copy of their original birth certificate.
Adoptees who submitted their applications prior to Nov. 3, will receive a noncertified copy of their original birth records by mid-to-late December. Adoptees who submit applications on or after Nov. 3 should allow 45 days for processing.
“This fight has always been about fairness and the fundamental right of Pennsylvania adoptees to have the same access to the one legal document that legitimizes their existence here on this earth,” Benninghoff said. “Today, that fight is over.”
For more information on the new law or to submit an original birth certificate application, visit KerryBenninghoff.com
Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner