Essentially, the process of adoption involves terminating the parental rights of the birth parents and establishing new parental rights of the adoptive parents. There are numerous avenues of adoption available, including adoption agencies, which may be for profit, non-profit, public or private, or local or national. Private adoption is an option for those adopting within a family or those who do not want to use an agency. This term also applies to adoptions that take place through a private agency.
In open adoptions, the identities of the parties remain known to each other after the adoption is final, or closed. Only basic general and medical information is exchanged, not personal information. Closed adoptions are more common, but an adoption agreement can be written to suit any given situation. Experienced Media adoption lawyers can help you draft an adoption agreement that will avoid complications should unexpected circumstances arise, such as which costs will be paid should one of the birth parents revoke consent.
Many different factors can affect the adoption process, including timing and individual attitudes of the parties involved. If the adoption is done through an agency, the agency may have its own requirements in addition to the state and federal laws. It makes sense to seek experienced legal counsel to make sure your rights and interests are protected throughout the course of an adoption.
Anybody seeking to adopt in Pennsylvania will go through a similar procedure as mandated by state law. When all the parties involved reside in the same state this is known as intrastate adoption. In cases where the adoption is taking place over state lines (interstate adoption) or from another country (international adoption), the laws of other states and governments will also apply.
Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states when it comes to who may adopt as there is no residency requirement. Adoption can be completed by adults who are a married couple, single adults, or unmarried couples, including heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender couples. In Pennsylvania, Step-Parent Adoption allows a step-parent to adopt a minor child. Second Parent Adoption is used by a partner in an unmarried same sex relationship who is not the biological parent of their partner’s minor child.
To begin the adoption process, consent of the birth parents must first be obtained. A birth mother can give consent for the adoption of her baby 72 hours after giving birth. The father can give consent any time before or after the birth. Revocation is possible within 30 days after signing the consent for adoption, but after the 30 days, the consent is irrevocable. Adults or children adopted over the age of 12 must give their consent for the adoption to take place.
As part of the adoption process in Pennsylvania, a home study is required for all types of adoption, domestic or international, apart from adoptions by close family relatives. A home study is an evaluation of the person(s) petitioning to adopt and the environment into which the child will be entering. By necessity, it is a detailed study that includes your financial means and living circumstances to assess how you will support a child. The home study is an ongoing evaluation that is updated annually and must be current at the time of the adoption finalization.
Pennsylvania requires criminal background checks for the adoptive parents and anyone living in the adoptive home over the age of 14, consisting of the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance and the State Police Criminal Record Check. An FBI Criminal Background Check, which is accompanied by fingerprinting, must be completed annually by anyone in the home over the age of 18.