Divorce and remarriage is fairly common and can include new children in your life. Adoption may be an option to make those children your own legally. An adoption by a stepparent qualifies as a kinship adoption such that some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived. As the prospective adopting parent, you will need to have three background checks completed prior to filing an adoption petition. Presently, the required background checks for Pennsylvania include (1) Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) PA State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. Your spouse and natural parent of the children would join as a petitioner in the adoption matter.
The rights of the other biological parent will need to be terminated in connection with the adoption. Their parental rights can be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. With voluntary termination the other natural parent will sign a consent to the adoption which is subsequently attached to the Petition for Adoption. There must be at least thirty (30) days between when the consent is signed and when adoption petition is filed with the court since there is a thirty (30) day revocation period. With involuntary termination, you will plead the applicable grounds for involuntary termination within your adoption petition. A filing fee is payable to the county at the time you file your petition for adoption. After filing the Petition, you will receive notice of when you are scheduled for your hearing. You will need to notify any party that is required to receive notice of the hearing per the adoption statutes in advance of the hearing.