Adopting a child is an incredibly rewarding experience, but the process can be overwhelming. If you are considering adoption in Pennsylvania, you likely have many questions about laws and the steps you must take.
At their core, PA’s adoption laws are designed to protect a child’s best interests. They want to ensure that prospective parents are equipped to provide a safe, loving home.
This article provides an overview of adopting a child in PA.
To be eligible to adopt a child in PA, you must:
- Provide references
- Be financially stable
- Be at least 21 years old
- Pass a background check
- Attend adoption education and counseling sessions
- Complete a home study that assesses your ability to provide a safe, nurturing environment
Different Types of Adoptions Available in PA
Pennsylvania has several different options available. Each comes with its own benefits and challenges.
Here is a broad overview of each.
This process refers to adopting a child within the state. These kids may have birth parents who voluntarily gave them up for adoption; the birth parents may have passed on; or their biological parents are unknown.
Just as it sounds, this form of adoption refers to adopting a child from a country outside the United States. There are many legal entanglements involved, as you must deal with international law, citizenship, etc. You should seek help from an attorney if you want to move forward with international adoption.
This type allows someone over 21 to adopt another person over 18.
There are several reasons why someone would want to go through with this process, such as:
- Inheritance purposes
- Inclusion in benefits such as health insurance
- Solidifying family bonds among people who are not biologically related
- Other legal benefits
In Pennsylvania, adult adoption is fairly straightforward. It does require the consent of the adoptee’s legal parents. In fact, it is not even necessary to notify the legal parents of the adoption. The adopter simply files a petition for adoption. This documentation includes the adoptee's full name, residence, marital status, age, and occupation. As long as both parties agree to the adoption, completing it should not be a legally complex process.
In this process, someone takes legal guardianship of a child. This adopter can be a relative or someone with a significant relationship to the child. Pennsylvania uses this adoption to keep children within their extended family or close social network. Kinship adoption is appropriate when a child's biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for them.
Put simply, PA allows stepparents to adopt a child, gaining full legal parenthood. Generally, stepparent adoptions require both parents’ consent.
In this system, children who cannot live with their biological parents are placed in temporary care. Licensed foster families take responsibility for these kids. Foster families can provide a safe, nurturing environment for children until they can reunite with their birth families or find a permanent adoptive home.
When a foster family chooses to adopt a child permanently, this is called “foster to adoption.”
Working with a Professional
When starting the adoption process, you must find a trusted professional to guide you. For the best results, work with both an adoption agency and an attorney.
Start by doing your research and reading online reviews. This will give you an idea of which agencies and lawyers will be a good fit for you.
Also, reach out to friends or relatives who have already gone through the adoption process. Experience is usually the best teacher. These people can give recommendations and prepare you for what’s coming.
Once you have chosen a few potential candidates, schedule consultations with them. Discuss your goals and get sense of whether this person has experience with similar situations.
Remember, finding the right support system is crucial to a successful adoption, and taking the time to do your research can make all the difference.
Overview of Home Study Requirements
Before preparing for an adoption in Pennsylvania, you must undergo a home study.
This process includes a thorough examination of the adoptive family's:
- Living conditions
- Financial stability
The prospective parent must also provide copies of their:
- Tax records
- Birth certificate
- Proof of income
- Marriage license, when applicable
Additionally, prospective parents need references from friends, family, and employers. These witnesses can attest to the family's character and ability to care for a child.
Financial Help in a PA Adoption
Adoption can be an exciting and fulfilling journey, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. Don’t let that fact deter you from pursuing your dream. Remember, your goal is to benefit your and the child’s lives.
There are resources available that can help cover adoption costs in Pennsylvania. Grants and loans are a popular option for adoptive parents. These funds can come from a variety of sources, including non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Pennsylvania State Adoption Assistance Program is a great place to start.
Notaro Epstein Family Law Group, P.C. can stand by your side throughout the adoption process. To meet with our team, schedule time with us online or call us directly at (412) 281-1988.