Termination of a biological parent’s rights and adoption often go hand in hand. A prospective parent cannot adopt without termination of the biological parent’s rights. A biological parent cannot voluntarily terminate their rights or sign a child away without another party stepping in to adopt. The parental rights of a biological parent can be involuntarily terminated in connection with an adoption matter as well. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511, there are nine (9) grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights.
If the natural parent(s) agree to the adoption they can execute the required consent to adoption and waiver of their rights. A petition to confirm their consent can be filed with the court to finalize the voluntary termination of their parental rights. The natural parents should appear at the hearing to offer testimony regarding their consent. If the natural parents are not present, the parties who served as witnesses at the time the consent was executed may be called to testify as well as any notary that notarized the document. If the natural parent(s) do not agree or are unable to be located, the prospective parents can seek involuntary termination of their rights. At the hearing, the prospective parents must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s actions meet at least one of the grounds for termination as listed in the statute. After the hearing, the court may enter a decree terminating parental rights at which point no further notice needs to be given to the biological parents about the adoption. The prospective parent(s) would still need to appear at subsequent hearing to finalize the adoption.