It is not uncommon for grandparents to take on a more active role in the lives of their grandchildren and serve as their primary guardian. Adoption is an option for cases where all interested parties desire to make this arrangement permanent. Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a grandparent adopting a grandchild. A standard adoption requires a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency. This process is somewhat expensive and takes a number of months to complete. A home study is not required for a grandparent adoption. Grandparents do need to complete the requisite 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.
Lastly, the rights of the natural parents must be terminated in conjunction with the adoption. The termination can be voluntary if the natural parents are consenting to the adoption and their consents would then be attached to the Petition for Adoption for submission to the court. Alternatively, if lacking written consents, grounds for involuntary termination can be addressed with the petition. Common grounds for involuntary termination include conduct by the parent(s) continuing for a period of at least six months evidencing their refusal or failure to perform parental duties or repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect by a parent that has caused the child to be without essential care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well‑being. 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.