Benninghoff Bill Giving Adoptees Enhanced Right to Birth Records Passed by House Committee
HARRISBURG – They can serve America overseas in the military, be elected to serve as a state representative or even president of the United States, but they can’t always get a copy of their original birth record information without redactions.

“They” are grown-up adoptees who were born and live in Pennsylvania, like state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), who introduced a bill that was approved today in Harrisburg by a state House committee that would grant them access to their original birth records.

“Those of us who were adopted can aspire to serve in leadership positions, but we’re powerless to simply acquire our own original birth certificate,” Benninghoff said.

Under current Pennsylvania law, adoptees may acquire a copy of their birth records; however, certain information may be redacted. For example, the name of the birth mother or father may be redacted unless the mother or father agrees to have his or her information released.

Benninghoff’s legislation – House Bill 162 – would remove the requirement for the birth mother or father to grant approval for the release of that information. Adoptees who reach the age of 19 would be able to apply for and receive a copy of their birth records, learn where they were born, identify their ethnic background and the names of their parents.

“For many adoptees, knowing who our birth parents are is a big part of knowing who we are,” Benninghoff said. “With diseases that are greatly affected by genetics like diabetes, knowing your ancestry can be a way to gather information about your own health.”

Benninghoff also noted that the advent of the Internet and websites like have made the current law redacting the birth parents’ names nearly obsolete.

Several adoptees were at the state House Children and Health Committee meeting today and some of them shed tears when the bill was approved and sent to the full House for further consideration.

Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Dan Massing
717.772.9845 /
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