It can be a simple process for a step-parent to adopt their step-child. Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a family member adopting a child. Specifically, a home study, which is expensive and can take several months to complete, is not required. Instead, the step-parent need only complete the necessary background checks.
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.
As with any adoption matter, the rights of the natural parent(s) must be terminated. If the natural parents are consenting to the adoption, their consents can be attached to the Petition for Adoption. You need to wait at least thirty (30) days after the consents are signed prior to filing them with the court since there is a thirty (30) day revocation period. Alternatively, if lacking written consents, grounds for involuntary termination can be addressed within the adoption petition. There is a filing fee due to the county at the time you file the Petition for Adoption. The filed petition and notice of the hearing must be served on all interested parties. Following successful completion of all the pre-requisites and filing and service of the Petition for Adoption and hearing notice, the final step is the adoption hearing. Generally, the hearing is just a matter of ceremony and a happy occasion for the adopting parents and child.