Married same-sex couples can pursue a step-parent adoption. A step-parent adoption requires background checks be completed as it relates to the adopting parents. 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. The rights of the natural parent need to be terminated in conjunction with the adoption petition. This can be via consent of the natural parent or via involuntary termination if grounds for termination exist.
Couples who are not married but interested in adopting a child together can do so following the procedures for a second-parent adoption. Second parent adoptions require the same background checks as a step-parent adoption. They also require a home study whereas a step-parent adoption does not. The home study consists of several visits to the home over a span of time to observe the living arrangements and relationship with the proposed adopting parent. The parental rights of the first parent need not be terminated for the adoption by the second parent to take place. Following successful completion of all the pre-requisites and filing of the Petition for Adoption, the final step is the adoption hearing in either scenario.