Adoption, under Pennsylvania family law, is the legal transfer of parental rights to adoptive parents, making the adoptive child a legal member of their family with all the rights and privileges of a biological child. Often times the child or the adoptive parent seeks to learn more about the child’s past by looking for the birth parents. This can be a very positive interaction for the child but there are a few legal rights to keep in mind before starting your search. Here are three legal rights you should know:
1. Records of the PA adoption may be sealed.
Some adoptions are closed. This means that the PA adoption record may be sealed until a child is a certain age, usually 18 or 21. In closed adoptions the birth parent’s information may remain secret for a certain amount of time or until he or she chooses to allow their information to be given out.
2. Adult adoptees can request adoption records.
Once they are an adult, a person who was adopted as a child has the right to obtain non-identifying information about their biological parents without obtaining a court order. This information can include ethnicity and race, occupation, highest level of education, religion, and general appearance. The adoptee can also contact the adoption agency that handled his or her adoption to find out what other options they have.
3. Birth parents have the right to stay anonymous.
If a birth parent indicates to the adoption agency that he or she would like to remain anonymous, an adoptee won’t have the right to obtain identifying information about the birth parent. In most states, during the adoption process, the birth parents provide the adoption agency with their preference about contact with the prospective adoptive parents. These preferences stay in place even after the adoption is finalized, meaning that if the adoptee does go to the agency seeking to find the birth parent the agency would need to contact the birth parent to discuss if they agree to being contacted by the child.
There are several adoption registries that both adoptees and birth parents can sing up for in order to establish a potential connection between birth parents and their biological children, but all of these are of course completely voluntary. If you are seeking to find your birth parent and are in need of assistance contact our Pittsburgh Adoption Lawyers at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. Our attorneys practice in all areas of family law and can assist with all aspects of the adoption process.