How Does the Adoption Process Work in Pennsylvania?
Adoption is almost always a joyful event. Over 100,000 children are legally adopted in the United States every year. A Pennsylvania adoption attorney can explain this state’s own adoption rules to prospective adoptive parents and guide them through the adoption process.
Like almost everything else in the law, an adoption is seldom straightforward or simple in this state, so prospective adoptive parents must have the right adoption attorney protecting their rights and providing sound legal advice from the very beginning of the adoption process.
As you may already know, an adoption is permanent. Those who seek to adopt will need to comprehend – thoroughly – the gravity and magnitude of the choice they are making.
What Are the Different Types of Adoptions?
If you adopt a child in Pennsylvania, you assume legal parenthood and have the right to decide about that child’s healthcare, education, and well-being. A Pennsylvania adoption lawyer handles these types of adoptions for prospective adoptive parents:
- step-parent adoptions
- domestic adoptions (of non-related children from within the U.S.)
- international adoptions (of non-related children from another nation)
- adult adoptions in particular circumstances
What Should Prospective Parents Know?
Prospective adoptive parents in Pennsylvania need not be affluent, but they must be able to offer a stable environment and a safe home that fosters and enables a child’s physical and mental health along with the child’s social and educational needs.
If you and your spouse adopt a child, you will both become legal parents with considerable legal and financial obligations. If you and your spouse legally separate or divorce after you’ve adopted, your responsibilities to the child do not cease until that child becomes a legal adult.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Adoption?
To adopt a child in this state, by law, there are no gender, sexuality, or marital status requirements. However, particular adoption agencies may have some of their own requirements. Prospective adoptive parents should be financially, emotionally and physically ready to adopt before beginning the process.
Depending on the type of adoption, you may also have to satisfy requirements like submitting to a home study or completing parenting classes. Most prospective adoptive parents will also be subject to fingerprinting and a criminal background check.
It is illegal in this state for prospective adoptive parents to pay a birth parent any living expenses. Before you pay any of a birth mother’s expenses, please contact a Pennsylvania adoption lawyer to ensure that your adoption is handled properly and is fully compliant with the law.
Is Your Adoption Domestic or International?
Prospective adoptive parents in Pennsylvania who are not adopting a related child or a step-child may choose to work with a domestic adoption agency, pursue an international adoption, or adopt a child who is currently in the foster care system in this state.
Some of the domestic adoption agencies are “full-service” agencies that provide counseling and guidance to both birth parents and to adoptive parents as well. These domestic adoption agencies may also conduct “home studies” of individuals and couples who are seeking to adopt.
International adoptions are usually more complicated and costlier than domestic adoptions, and laws in the child’s nation of origin may apply. A birth parent, a lawyer, or a judge in the child’s nation of origin could unexpectedly delay or disrupt the process. Consult a Pennsylvania family law attorney before you take any steps regarding an international adoption.
What Are “Open” and “Closed” Adoptions?
Pennsylvania law allows for open adoptions, which maintain the lines of communication among the biological parent or parents, the adoptive parent or parents, and the adopted child.
In a closed adoption, all records of the adoption are legally and permanently sealed, and a biological parent may not under any circumstances attempt to reach, to harass, or to interfere in any way with the child or with the adoptive parents.
Adopting parents should thoroughly understand what an open adoption entails and should settle only for an agreement that they are comfortable and pleased with.
What Should Birth Parents Know?
If you are a prospective birth mother, a Pennsylvania adoption attorney can help you decide if adoption is the best choice for you and your baby. An attorney can help you understand the applicable adoption laws so that you will know your baby’s adoption is handled properly.
To complete the adoption process, birth parents must legally consent to the adoption and the termination of parental rights. This consent may only be signed seventy-two hours or more after your child has been born, and you will have thirty days to revoke your consent.
The laws that address fathers and adoption are complicated, so whether a father’s consent is required for an adoption will depend on your particular situation. An attorney will explain the details about the father’s involvement and will take the legal steps to protect you and your baby.
It does not matter what stage of pregnancy you are in or even if your baby is already born. Let an adoption lawyer discuss adoption with you and guide you through the process.
Prospective Adoptive Parents Must Be Cautious
Not all adoption agencies are professionally operated, but a good adoption lawyer will protect your interests and ensure that your adoption is conducted ethically and legally.
Seeking to adopt without an attorney’s help or without the help of an established and reliable adoption agency may make prospective parents vulnerable to adoption fraud.
Some couples have lost thousands of dollars to savvy con artists with pictures of smiling children who are supposedly waiting to be adopted. Don’t be a con artist’s victim. Have a Pennsylvania family law attorney handle your adoption from the start.
What Else Is Important to Know?
As you might expect, prospective adoptive parents will need some patience. Depending on the details of your adoption, the adoption process in Pennsylvania can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more.
When all of the other requirements have been satisfied, your attorney will schedule a final adoption hearing, and a Pennsylvania judge will issue a final decree that grants you full legal parental rights and completes the adoption process.
Scores of children need adoption right here in Pennsylvania; thousands more around the world also need adoption. Whether you are placing your child for adoption or seeking to adopt a child, when you are ready to begin, a Pennsylvania family law attorney will be ready to help.