Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Strike Three

You are all going to be so well versed on Pennsylvania S2905 by the time this is over, you’ll be able to pass the Pennsylvania State Bar Exam. I’ll set up one of those widgets so you can PayPal me your tuition fees.

Sports fans will recall that back in February, I sent to the court the following

1.) Formal request to the Judge and the Clerk of Orphans Court a request for certified copies of both the interlocutory order of adoption and the final order of adoption

2.) Formal petition for release of non-identifying information.

3.) Formal petition for release of identifying information.

4.) A copy of my driver's license for identification

5.) Waiver of confidentiality

I waited patiently like a good little girl, and Saturday got this.

OK, the fee in the amount of $65.00 I get, but what on earth is an Order for Petition?? Kinda sorta sounds like what I sent them. Like… twice already.

Do they have seminars on how to purposely make this difficult for adoptees? And I swear they purposely mailed this on a Wednesday knowing I'd get it on a Saturday and have to stew about it all weekend before I could call them.

All these many many hoops. I still do have the Pennsylvania lawyer to fall back on, but I honestly don’t have $750.00 for her fee.

So, Monday I was too busy to call, but I called yesterday… let’s listen in!

Hi, this is Theresa D----. I’m calling you about the letter you sent me last week on the papers you received March 1st?

Oh, yeah, hi?

Hi! I have a few questions. First off, the $65.00 fee? It was my understanding that the County charges around $150.00 for non-identifying? What’s the $65.00?

Oh, that’s the fee for the petition. If there is any
additional charge, they’ll get back to you on it.

OK, thanks! Second question – the “order for petition”… um? That’s what I sent? You sent the whole package back to me?

Yes, it does need to be in an official petition format.

OK, but…. it was.

It was?

Yes, I had sent a request for my adoption decree, a petition for my non-identifying information, a petition for my identifying information, and a waiver of confidentiality in the event anyone is looking for me.

Oh, ok, well, the waiver won’t apply unless they request it with petition.
They used to allow them, but then a few years ago a biological family
went looking for their child and it didn’t turn out good. There was a
problem. (Sing with me, sisters: One bad apple don’t
spoil the whole bunch, girl.

OK, so, the petition….

Well I showed it to the legal clerk and they said it
needs to be in formal petition format.

Are you talking about a regular numbered petition?

Do you have access to a Pennsylvania Law Library?

No, I’m in Long Island.

Oh, well if you could find some Pennsylvania Law books,
that would have the format for you.

What about the generic petition format that comes as a template in Microsoft Word? Would that work?


(Editor’s note: Sports fans will remember that back in January when I first called, I was told I only needed to write a letter. It was only with the support of fellow PA Orphans and the Department of Social Service that I learned I needed to send it in petition format. The DSS was positive that the petitions over at Adoption Forum would work, but sadly, they didn’t.)

OK cool, so what’s the next step?

Well he’ll review your case and decide first off if he can send
your non-identifying, and see if there is anything in there?

Doesn’t 2905 state that these items need to be kept on permanent record?

Oh, yeah, well, a lot of times, there’s really nothing in there.


Yeah, there’s nothing, just the names and dates.

Well, for example, I don’t even know my nationality. I’d be thrilled to know that.

Well (brace yourselves) before about 15 years ago, that wasn’t recorded.


Yeah, it would just say, “Race: White”

So there you have it folks. I finally have learned my nationality.
I’m white.



So, after that, how long is the normal turnaround time. Is it say, 2 to three months?

Yes, I would say that, well more like three.


Yeah they need to get all the reporting stuff together and then
assign a representative from Children & Youth services to contact
your biological parents, and act as an intermediary to see
if they want to meet you. This can take like around four months.

OK four months I’ll put down

Or sometimes more like 6 months or 8 months.

OK. So I’ll send a check for $65.00 and use the petition wizard in MS Word.

Yeah, oh, the copy of the adoption decree is $20.00.
Can you send that as a separate check?

Will do. Thanks for your time.

You're welcome. I'm so sorry this is so
difficult. We just never get these requests.
Nobody ever searches for their biological
parents in this County.

Do you wonder why, friends?
I do believe she was sorry. She sounded very genuine.
I'm telling the truth.

There are friends to adoptees within State and County offices.
But they are tied by the same red tape we are.

Stay tuned.

21 complaints from ingrates:

L April 18, 2007 at 11:36 AM  

The MOST important info you need to start is the name of the agency that handled your adoption. THAT will definitely be in the record.
Every agency handles things differently. When I was fifteen, I called the agency and asked for information. The woman tried to shoot me down but I basically started begging (I was fifteen, I had no shame).
"Please, please. I don't even know what time I was born."
Two days later, I received a two page outline of my family history and heritage including the eye and hair color of my parents and grandparents, some medical history AND the time of my birth.
The agency is bound by law but there is a lot they can do on their own for you if they want.
You have got to find out the agency.
I know this is hard but you really may need to have a big sit-down with your amom and be firm with her.
I have my fingers and toes crossed that this gets resolved for you soon.
Don't give up.

L April 18, 2007 at 11:39 AM  

When you resend your stuff. Ask for the name of the agency in writing.
Seriously, what reason would they have to not tell you?

Erin April 18, 2007 at 11:41 AM  

Okay I'm going to stop calling people foul names in Pennsylvania and start having a positive mindset. I'm going to pray this works out for you Theresa. Knowing your birthfamily is your right and I'm praying that it works out for you this year. In fact I just printed this post out and pasted it on my closet door beside my computer so I'll remember to pray for you. Perhaps that will help.

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 18, 2007 at 1:00 PM  

Thanks guys. Another discussion with mom today in which she swears there was no agency, and that it was a private adoption. Which of course is contrary to what she told me a few weeks ago, but what can you do?

Based on what Catholic Charities told me, it does appear this was right, that this was handled entirely through two private parties.

Erin, Beth, thanks.

L April 18, 2007 at 2:49 PM  

Ok then. You need the names of the lawyers who handled it. Your mom should have record of that somewhere. And the state definately does.
I'm sure your amom is a very nice lady but she needs to step up, man. This is just getting silly.
Does your mom have a file cabinet?
Can you get access to it?
Before I left home for good, I went to my parents' file cabinet and took everything related to my adoption including my adoption papers and all letters from the lawyers pertaining to me.
I didn't ask. I just did it.
How's that for ungrateful?
And my mom didn't even notice I had done it until I told her this year over fifteen years after I nicked them!!
I'm sorry if this is coming off as ASSvice but I am just so frustrated that they are making you jump through hoops for something you should be entitled too.
And your amom's ambiguity is just plain annoying.

Unknown April 18, 2007 at 5:54 PM  

i dont believe no one ever searches in that county. i bet alot of ppl are searching.

that system was exactly how ontario ran for years. they actually forced anyone searching to get mandatory counselling by the cas before reuniting.they recieved so many complaints because they rarely bothered to update any lists or perform searches.

if we could get open records here in ontario - which by the way took about 20 years - i believe slowly it will start to happen everywhere. but that doesnt do you any good tho does it?

i hope this all comes together for you soon.

Rebecca April 18, 2007 at 7:17 PM  

*Banging head on desk* Just reading your experience with this quest is painful, I don't know how you live it, Theresa. Sending good thoughts, prayers and wishes to the Universe for you. Hugs, Rebecca

Mommela April 18, 2007 at 7:37 PM  

It just ain't right, it just ain't right. Sending all kinds of good legal mojo your way...

Newlyorphaned April 18, 2007 at 7:44 PM  

Okay, girl...when I hold up the hoop, you jump, see?

Then I'll hold up another one!

You just keep jumping!

You jump enough times the ground starts shaking and something breaks loose! Meanwhile the pages pile up and they get a back ache!

Hang in there, buy a BIG roll of stamps and find something to do while your waiting! Your in my prayers!

angel April 18, 2007 at 8:21 PM  

Utter frustration! I'm glad at least that you had a 'genuine' person to speak to, even if the processes are ridiculous and cause dangerously high blood pressure!

I read most of that conversation, just shaking my head.. Its like banging your head against a brick wall!

I had to wait 'a couple of months' for my information, and it turned out to be two months for one piece of paper, and then another seven months for the rest. I can't tell you how excited I was when I finally received that envelope!

Hang in there. I hope the next stage of this process speeds up for you. xx

Anonymous,  April 18, 2007 at 8:35 PM  

Keeping my fingers crossed that something comes your way and that all your hard work pays off. I couldn't imagine not knowing. I will make sure my little one knows EVERYTHING I know even if it turns out his birthfamily backs out down the road.

Going Back to Square One April 18, 2007 at 8:46 PM  

Good night!

What a mess! That's just unbelievable. When you send all the "correct" paperwork are they going to send you another letter back saying you didn't type it in your own blood?


Possum April 18, 2007 at 9:28 PM  

* BANG *
* BANG *
* BANG *
* BANG *

(that's just my heading thumping on my desk.....)
This so screws Theresa.
Poss. xx

Lizard April 18, 2007 at 11:15 PM  

From 3 to 8 months in 60 seconds. Sounds like a reverse turbo.

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Official format. What a crock. And $150, $65, $20 (and who knows how much more you'll get dinged) ... cha ching! For stuff EVERYBODY ELSE in the country already has.

I'm so sorry, Theresa. It's just not right.

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 19, 2007 at 6:33 AM  

Thanks everyone.

I do have the latested Hewlett Packard Blood-Jet Printer, which also comes with the Emotional Pound of Flesh Memory Cartridge, so hopefully this time my request will be printed properly.

And Beth thanks, but unfortunately no adoption records at home. Like all adoption records, they are prone to fires and floods. In my case, it was a flood that destroyed them.

elizabeth April 20, 2007 at 8:25 PM  

this is just an awful lot of bullshit, what complete crap!

I'm seriously pissed off for you.

I'm going to try and see if I can get my records from NY this summer. Only mention it because last time I tried I was also told, "No one has EVER asked for adoption records before!"

Fucking asshole motherfucking adoption record keepers they can eat shit and DIE!

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 21, 2007 at 8:59 AM  

E don't you just love the way that NO ONE has ever asked before??

Anonymous,  April 22, 2007 at 2:42 PM  

HOlly shit what's wrong with these people??? No one ever searches????

If you have the numbers of the laws I can look them up on Lexis Nexis and probably print out the forms and such and mail ya.

I can also look up the laws to see if they must provide you non-id info and whatnot.... stupids. makes me mad.

Jean from LJ

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 23, 2007 at 5:09 PM  

Jean thanks so much for the offer. It's PA 2905 and I've got it memorized I read it so many time. They are required to send the non-id, but each court is allowed to set their own standard on how to release it and what information they will keep in the files. "Permanent record" means something different in each court. And then you've got the ever present destroyed by fire excuse that happens frequently too!

But momma didn't raise no fool who'd turn down an offer, so if you have specifically the format for Bucks County Orphan's court, I'd be much obliged!

Anonymous,  April 27, 2007 at 12:44 PM  

I just found your blog (via Third Mom), and I really have no legal expertise or anything, I just like googling stuff. Sorry if these are irrelevant or redundant to the info you already have, but I wonder if any of these links would help you:

I also know that Kateri (Wet Feet on the Soul of Adoption ring) lives in PA -- maybe she could help you?

Glad I discovered you; love your writing.

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 27, 2007 at 8:24 PM  

Jana, did you know that jana means genious in theresa-talk? It does. It's true!

I have lived on that website. I have read every page on that website. I have that website memorized. And yet for some reason the little bit about the book from the bar association passed me by.

I've already sent out my revised petition but if this fails, I'll call the bar association and buy that book. I am speechless, and in great debt to you. I'd say thank you but it would not even come close. So, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

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