Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a family member adopting a child. A standard adoption will require a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency. This process is expensive and takes a number of months. This requirement is waived in the event of an adoption of a stepchild, grandchild, brother, sister, niece or nephew by blood, marriage, or prior adoption. Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from this provision.
In a kinship adoption background checks must still be completed as it relates to the adopting parent(s). Presently, there are three background checks required: (1) Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) PA State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. If the natural parents are consenting to the adoption, their consents can be attached to the Petition for Adoption. This should be at least thirty (30) days after the consents are signed since there is a thirty (30) day revocation period. Alternatively, if lacking written consents, grounds for involuntary termination can be addressed with the petition. Following successful completion of all the pre-requisites and filing of the Petition for Adoption, the final step is the adoption hearing. Generally, the hearing is just a matter of ceremony and a happy occasion for the adopting parents.