Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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November 2018 Archives

Grandparent Adoption

An adoption by a grandparent qualifies as a kinship adoption. Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a family member adopting a child. A standard adoption will require a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency. This process is expensive and takes a number of months. This requirement is waived in the event of an adoption of a grandchild. Background checks will be required for the adopting parent(s). Presently, there are three background checks required: (1) Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) PA State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare.

Do We Need a QDRO?

If your spouse has a retirement plan or pension and you are entitled to share in the distributions, you absolutely need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). In fact, a plan's administrator is not permitted to distribute funds to anyone but the participant without a QDRO.

Same Sex Adoption

Same-sex adoptions can take place in the form of a second-parent adoption. A second-parent adoption allows a person to adopt the child of their "unmarried" partner. In 2002, the Supreme Court held that the parental rights of the first parent need not be terminated for the adoption by the second parent to take place. Since that time, PA has remained in the minority of states that allow second-parent adoptions on a statewide basis. If a same-sex couple is married, they follow the same procedures as a kinship or step-parent adoption.

Background Checks for Adoption

Background checks are required for all prospective parents in an adoption matter. In Pennsylvania, there are three background checks that are required: Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance through the Department of Human Services, Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks through the State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. These background checks must also be completed for all other adult household members where the adoptee will reside. At this time, requests for all three background checks can be done online. The cost for each background check is nominal. Fingerprinting is required for the FBI Criminal Background Check.

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month. This is the 23rd year for recognition of National Adoption Month which began in 1995 when President Clinton extended the recognition from a week to the entire month of November. Pennsylvania participates in national adoption awareness each year through presentation of a proclamation and renewed pledge to make sure every child has a place to call home. Pennsylvania specifically achieves these goals through the Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network and PA Adoption Exchange. Both organizations work towards the overall goal of permanency for all children. PA estimates that currently there are approx. 2,500 children in foster care awaiting adoption. You can visit www.adoptpakids.org for more information on the adoption process as well as many of the children in need of a home.

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