This month is especially significant for adopted adults born in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 3, Gov. Wolf signed House Bill 162 into law, giving adoptees at age 18 the right to their original birth certificate for the first time since 1984. For deceased adoptees, descendants can request a copy of the birth certificate. Adoptees will now have that one piece of paper evidencing the first chapter in their lives and the name of their birth parent or parents.

The new law allows birth parents to have their name redacted from the birth certificate, but they must file a medical history form to be given to the adoptee. Adoptees will be eligible to apply for a copy of their original birth certificate Nov. 3, 2017.

The law is not perfect, but it is the culmination of eight years of hard work on the part of Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R., Centre), an adoptee; Rep. Katharine Watson (R., Bucks), an adoptive parent; and others advocating for fairness and truth. For the first time in more than 30 years, Pennsylvania-born adoptees will enjoy the same right as non-adopted citizens - the right to their birth information.

|Carolyn Hoard, West Grove, choard192@verizon.net

EMS responders make a difference

As we embark on another season of giving thanks, I ask New Jerseyans to count volunteer emergency medical services responders among their blessings. This army of unsung heroes answers thousands of calls daily throughout the Garden State.

There also are the large-scale events. Immediately after the NJ Transit commuter train crash on Sept. 29, members of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps were on scene. In October, when Hurricane Matthew threatened to impact our area, thousands of volunteers stood at the ready. Some of those volunteers trudged through flood waters four years earlier to rescue trapped residents, including an ailing cardiac patient, during Hurricane Sandy, and spent weeks helping at Ground Zero after 9/11.

If called, these volunteers will again leave their families during this holiday season to help neighbors and strangers alike. Take time to honor and thank these dedicated men and women, especially during the holidays. Better still, consider joining our ranks.

Some people spend their lives wondering, "Did I make a difference?" Others don't need to wonder - they are EMS volunteers.

|Joseph G. Walsh Jr., president, EMS Council of New Jersey, Neptune, emscnj.pres@gmail.com

Standing up for each other

While working in the intensive care unit of Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, N.J., last weekend, I discussed the presidential election with a nurse. She is Jewish. Knowing that I am a Muslim immigrant, she asked, "What will you do if President-elect Trump makes you carry a special identification card?" I replied, "I don't think that will happen."

"If it ever happens," she said, "I will stand with you and will also demand a special identification card."

I wish Trump understood what makes America great. Americans staying united and standing up for each other's rights, irrespective of religion and race, has and will continue to "make America great."

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to my colleague and friend and all fellow Americans who are willing to speak up and stand up for my constitutional rights. Also, I pray that Trump stays true to his promise of being a president for all Americans, regardless of their religion, race, and country of origin.

|Nasir Ahmad, M.D., Tinton Falls, N.J.

Amid turmoil, lend a hand

This general election, 231.6 million Americans were eligible to vote, but only 58 percent voted. The new president was elected by only

26.7 percent of the eligible voters. These are sobering facts that show how indifferent and divided our country is.

We soon may be faced with dramatic changes to life in this country, though most of us will still try to live within our means and contribute to growth and prosperity for all. Our standard of living is one of the highest in the world, thanks in part to immigrants who come here for safer and better opportunities.

During this holiday season, be grateful to all who make our lives safe and productive, especially the men and women in our military, law enforcement, fire departments, and rescue squads. And try to help those less fortunate with the gifts of your talents and financial assistance. Your reward will be knowing you gave willingly to the many who will be grateful for your assistance.

|Bob Sweeney, Warwick, R.I.

A life filled with blessings

Because of persecution in Pakistan, my family became refugees. We were ecstatic when the United Nations' refugee agency in Sri Lanka resettled us in the United States last month. We received a warm welcome by the U.S. government and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. We felt at home.

We had never celebrated Thanksgiving. I never knew that it is so much fun until I attended the Thanksgiving celebration at the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia on Saturday.

This Thanksgiving, my message to all is: Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. When you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never ever have enough.

|Mahwish Irfan, Philadelphia