Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Birth Certificates of Adoptees in Pennsylvania

In November of 2017, Pennsylvania began providing adopted persons information from their original, sealed birth certificate.

The disappointment was that the document was a limited transcription and not a copy of the original record, in contrast to the title.

In response to criticism about the limitations of this document, Pennsylvania re-issued the birth records on nicer paper.

The problem here is that the law (2016 Act 127) authorizes release of a "summary" of the original birth certificate and not the original birth certificate. Pennsylvania Department of Health labels the document "Noncertified Copy of Original Birth Record," and not something more accurate such as "Selective Extraction of a Birth Record."

The information available is the date and county (not town) of birth, original name of baby, and names and ages of parents. This information could lead adoptees to find their biological families. But the missing information might be needed if the named parent or parents is not enough. More information increases the chances of success.

The person who kindly supplied me with her "original birth certificate" identified her biological mother shortly before receiving the document. That will be explained in an upcoming post. The biological father has not been identified (yet) through DNA testing and unfortunately was not named in this birth record.

In January of 2017 neighboring New Jersey unsealed birth certificates to adoptees. In contrast to Pennsylvania, New Jersey's document for adoptees is a copy of the actual birth certificate and not an extraction.

For the person who kindly supplied this unsealed New Jersey birth certificate, the biological mother was previously identified in the adoption records of the court, which were not sealed because the adoption was before 1940. The father was identified through DNA testing before the release of this certificate. The names of the parents on this certificate, however, do not match the court records and the interpretations of DNA testing.

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