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adoption Archives

Family Adoptions

Adoptions among certain family members are streamlined and circumvent some of the requirements for a non-kinship adoption. For example, 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 stepchild, grandchild, brother, sister, niece or nephew by blood, marriage, or prior adoption. Now that Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex partners can also benefit from this provision.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights means the natural parent of a child forever loses or forfeits any rights as a parent. This would include the loss of any standing for future custody actions. It also means they are not financially responsible for child support any longer. Termination of parental rights can generally only occur in conjunction with an adoption matter. The petition for termination of parental rights and a petition for adoption would be filed simultaneously.

Grandparent Adoptions

It is not uncommon for grandparents to take on a more active role in the lives of their grandchildren and serve as their primary guardian. Adoption is an option for cases where all interested parties desire to make this arrangement permanent. Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a grandparent adopting a grandchild. A standard adoption requires a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency. This process is somewhat expensive and takes a number of months to complete. A home study is not required for a grandparent adoption. Grandparents do need to complete the requisite background checks. 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.

Same-Sex Adoption

Married same-sex couples can pursue a step-parent adoption. A step-parent adoption requires background checks be completed as it relates to the adopting parents. 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. The rights of the natural parent need to be terminated in conjunction with the adoption petition. This can be via consent of the natural parent or via involuntary termination if grounds for termination exist.

Step-parent Adoption

It can be a simple process for a step-parent to adopt their step-child. Some of the statutory requirements for adoption are waived in the case of a family member adopting a child. Specifically, a home study, which is expensive and can take several months to complete, is not required. Instead, the step-parent need only complete the necessary background checks.

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month. This is the 22nd year for recognition of National Adoption Month. It started as National Adoption Week in 1984 on the motion of then President Ronald Reagan. In 1995, President Clinton extended the recognition from a week to the entire month of November. This year's initiative is finding homes for teenagers. Teenagers are often less likely to find a forever home due to their age however it is still vital for teens to establish stable connections as it reflects on their overall wellbeing and increases their likelihood for success as adults.

Confirmation of Consent in Adoption

One of the ways an adoption can proceed is if the natural parent(s) consent to the adoption. A Petition for Confirmation of Consent can be filed by the party executing the consent or the party intending to adopt the child. Pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. Section 2711, a consent must be signed by the following individuals where applicable: (1) the child(ren) being adopted if over 12 years of age; (2) the spouse of the adopting parent if that spouse is not also a petitioner; (3) the natural parent(s) of any minor child(ren) being adopted; (4) the guardian of an incapacitated child up for adoption; and (5) the guardian of a minor child or persons having custody when the adoptee has no parent whose consent is required. There are several timing rules that must be adhered to. First, the consent cannot be signed by a natural mother within 72 hours, or three days, after the birth of a child. A consent can be signed by a natural father at any time after he has been notified the child is expected to be born or has been born. Executed consents become irrevocable after 30 days. The can be revoked on the basis of fraud or duress within 60 days.

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights means the natural parent of a child forever loses or forfeits any rights as a parent. This would include the loss of any standing for future custody actions. On the flip side, it also means they are not financially responsible for their prior child in terms of support. Termination of parental rights can generally only occur in conjunction with an adoption matter. Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. A biological parent can consent to an adoption and voluntarily relinquish their rights. Alternatively, parental rights may be subject to involuntary termination. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. ยง 2511, there are nine (9) grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights.

Where Can You Adopt?

The Pennsylvania Adoption Act is fairly liberal in terms of where an adoption can take place. An adoption can take place in any county where the natural parents of the child occur. It may also take place in any county where the child to be adopted resides. Additionally, an action for adoption can be initiated in the county where the parties looking to adopt reside. Outside of any county where a party of an adoption matter may reside, an agency adoption can be brought in any county where that agency has an office. The final option as to where you may file is where the child to be adopted previously resided with leave of court. This means a court must make a determination as to whether filing in a county where the child used to live or was born is appropriate.

Adoption of Family Members

A streamlined adoption process is available depending on the relationship of the prospective adoptive parents and the adoptee. Specifically, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and step-parents qualify as a kinship adoption. A home study is not required in a kinship adoption, however background checks must still be completed as it relates to the adopting parent(s). 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.

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