Recently, ANA’s Executive Director, Andrea Totaro, and Sam Totaro, ANA’s attorney, met with two members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Katherine M. Watson of the 144th District and Rep. Scott Petri, of the 178th District to discuss adoption issues that are important to all of us living and adopting in Pennsylvania. Donald Petrille, the Register of Wills-Clerk of the Orphans Court (the division under which our adoptions are processed) was also in attendance.
The purpose of the meeting was to express our concerns regarding adoption laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our chief concern is that current laws prohibit any assistance with a Birthmother’s living expenses for a period of time during her pregnancy and until she is able to provide for herself and her family after the birth, generally four to six weeks. At the present time, Pennsylvania women considering adoption for their unborn child very often ‘look elsewhere’ for adoptive families – selecting couples from New Jersey or New York, or beyond, because those states do allow financial assistance to a Birthmother. In Pennsylvania, an adoptive family cannot even cover the cost of a pregnant woman’s maternity clothing, her electricity bill or the cost of monthly cell phone minutes. This law forces Pennsylvania couples seeking to adopt to travel across the country where they might be chosen by a birthmother and, under the laws of her state, they can then pay for pregnancy-related necessities.
We also discussed the time frame for the signing of the Adoption Consent and the period of time that adoptive couples are “at risk” in a Pennsylvania adoption as compared to that time frame in other states. Both of these legislators were extremely attentive and have asked us to prepare a “wish list” for ways in which the laws might be changed that would be beneficial to both birthparents contemplating adoption and those couples seeking to adopt. We are certain that our voices were heard and are excited that changes might be on the horizon! When these changes are presented to the full House, we will be sure to let you know so that you can contact your Representatives to voice your concern as well.