An adoption petition can be filed by anyone. Pursuant to 23 P.A. CS 2312, any individual may become an adopting parent. There is no requirement that a prospective parent be married or in a relationship. An adoption can take place in any county where the natural parents of the child reside. It may also take place in any county where the child to be adopted resides or in the county where the prospective parent resides. Background clearances must be obtained for the prospective parent as well as any other adult household members. If not already resolved, the rights of the natural parents of the child need to be addressed in connection with the adoption proceeding. The natural parents can cooperate in consenting to the adoption and or voluntarily relinquishing their rights. There are also circumstances in which a prospective parent can petition for the involuntary termination of the natural parents’ rights.
The first step is to file the applicable petition for adoption and/or termination with the correct court. Each county has their own local rules and forms to be used in an adoption matter. Additionally, each county sets their own fee schedule in terms of what filing fees will be due and for which pleadings. A streamlined adoption process may be available depending on the familial relationship of the prospective parent to the adoptee in that the requirement for a home study may be waived. The cost and procedure for a home study, where necessary, also varies by county. Working with an experienced adoption attorney will help you in navigating all these areas.