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Search and Reunion

For many adoptees, finding one’s biological roots is important for medical or personal reasons. Many birth parents are increasingly interested in meeting or having some contact with the individual they placed for adoption. The process of making these connections is commonly referred to as “search and reunion.”

Individuals adopted in Pennsylvania have several ways to find out about their biological heritage or to reunite with their birth parents.

If you were born and adopted in Pennsylvania:

  • Contact the Division of Vital Records by calling 1-877-PAHEALTH to obtain the form used to determine if your birth parent(s) have filed a consent form granting permission to release their name and address.
  • If no consent is on file, you will be directed to the County Court of Common Pleas that finalized your adoption. Visit the Department of Health's Web site for more information and to print the form.
  • If you know the County court, you can contact the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange to obtain the address of the court that handled your adoption.
  • Petition the court that handled your adoption to request:
    • Non-identifying information such as race, marital status and age of birth parents. This information will not divulge your birth parents' identity or address;
    • A search for your birth parents to seek their permission to release information about their identity or to facilitate contact; or
    • A determination whether a death certificate is on file with the Division of Vital Records for either of your birth parents. If so, the Court will provide you with the name of your deceased birth parent(s).
  • Contact the agency that handled your adoption to request non-identifying information. You may also ask the agency to conduct a search to obtain the consent of your birth parents to release identifying information or to facilitate contact.

If you are a birth parent of a child born in Pennsylvania:

  • Obtain a Biological Parent Identification Registration form from the Division of Vital Records. Send the completed form back to their Birth Parent Registry. Visit their Web site for more information.
  • File the consent form with the court that handled your child’s adoption if you know the adoption was finalized in Pennsylvania. You may request the court information from the Division of Vital Records.
  • File the consent form with the Pennsylvania adoption agency that handled your child’s adoption.

If you were adopted in Pennsylvania but born elsewhere:

  • Petition the court that finalized your adoption to request:
    • Non-identifying information such as race, marital status and age of the birth parents. This information will not divulge your birth parents' identity or address; or
    • A search for your birth parents to seek their permission to release information about their identity or to facilitate contact.
  • Contact the Pennsylvania adoption agency that handled your adoption to request non-identifying information. You may also ask the agency to conduct a search to obtain the consent of your birth parents to release identifying information or to facilitate contact.

Neither the court nor an adoption agency is required under Pennsylvania’s adoption law to conduct or arrange a search for the birth parents of an individual adopted in Pennsylvania.

Not all adoptees are interested in reuniting with their birth parents. They may, however, want information about their birth parents’ family medical history. A birth parent may wish to retain their privacy but be willing to share medical history information. Pennsylvania established an Adoption Medical History Registry in 1997 for just that purpose. For more information about the registry, visit Medical History Registry.

If you need more information about doing an adoption search, please contact the SWAN Warmline at 888-793-2512 or lsiwarmline@diakon-swan.org.

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