On behalf of myself and all Pennsylvania adoptees, I implore you to pass HB162.
This time last year, after searching for twenty five years, I met my birth mother for the first time. It was glorious and has been ever since. Her LARGE, Irish Catholic family embraced me with open arms, even hosting a forty person family reunion in my honor last summer. Happily, I now have so many aunts, uncles, and cousins that keeping track of everyone is a joyous challenge!
I cannot tell you how relieved and PROUD I am to know my heritage not only for myself but for my children. My eight year red-headed son now knows the origin of the bushy crop atop his head; he looks just like my birthmother, now lovingly called Nana. The bond HE has forged with his new Nana is beyond precious.
During the committee hearings (I watched the tape), Catholic Charities stated that ACT 101 is all adoptees need to access non identifying, medical information. As a Catholic Charities adoptee who just went through their process twelve months ago, please allow me to offer a bit of feedback. The medical information in my file was scant at best, as the information was gathered forty five years ago and has not been updated. How would it be updated? How would my birthmother ever know about ACT 101, especially since she had moved out of state.
My birth mother is a well-educated Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who certainly would have updated my file had she ever known it was permissible. It is my opinion that the culture of shame and secrecy that drove adoption practices in the 1950's and 60's kept my birth mother from ever even considering updating my file. Ironically, my birthmother and two of my aunts are breast cancer survivors. It is such a relief to know my medical history and it is still unfolding.
I am slowly discovering that dyslexia runs in the family. Both of my children are challenged by dyslexia and it is a relief to know we are not alone. Even more importantly, my children can now look up to family heroes who have overcome dyslexia, earning advanced degrees and excelling in various professions. Learning the life stories of my birth family enriches our lives, but it does not live in a file. The stories unfold over time as our relationships grow.
HB162 is NOT about search. It IS about equal access to personal history and TRUTH. Obtaining my non identifying information from Catholic Charities cost me one hundred dollars. Many adoptees cannot afford that fee. When HB162 passes, adoptees will pay ten dollars- just like everyone else- for their accurate, vital record. The non identifying information I obtained from Catholic Charities was far from accurate. Had I not met my birthmother, I would have accepted the Catholic Charities report as the TRUTH. Adoptees, like myself, live a life of mystery surrounding our beginnings. HB162 affords us access to our history, our heritage, our TRUTH.
Please do all that you can to PASS HB 162. Feel free to contact me for any further information.