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adoption Archives

Where to File for Adoption

An adoption petition can be filed in a number of places depending on the circumstances of your case. Pursuant to 23 P.A. CS 2302, an adoption may be brought in the county where the parent(s) reside, where the adoptee resides, where an office is located for an agency having custody of the adoptee, or with leave of court, where the adoptee formerly resided. Section 2301 dictates that each county shall exercise jurisdiction through the appropriate division for adoption matters. In Pennsylvania, it is the Orphans' Court that regularly handles adoption matters. In New Jersey, it is the Surrogates' office.

Adoption Hearing

One of the final steps in the adoption process is the adoption hearing. The hearing is often ceremonial in nature. It is common for family and friends to attend along with the prospective adoptee parents. The adoptee(s) must be present as well. At the hearing, the Petitioners should be prepared to show all legal requirements for an adoption have been met. Any documents that were attached to your original petition or subsequently filed with the court should already be in the court file (i.e. original birth certificate, background checks, home study report.) Additional requirements may include service on the opposing party in which case you should be sure to have valid proof of service with you for your hearing.

Home Studies

If you are adopting a child that is not related or not within the categories of relation qualifying as a kinship adoption, you will need to have a home study completed as part of the adoption process. You should have your requisite background checks completed prior to or in connection with requesting your home study as the reports will need to be reviewed by your social worker. In Bucks County, you can apply for a home study by filing a request for a preplacement home study. There is a filing fee due at the time of filing the request. Presently, it is $650.

Act 101 Notice

Act 101 was signed into law in 2010 to allow certain post-adoption contact by agreement of the parties. Specifically, a birth relative by blood, marriage or adoption can contract with the new adoptive parents in terms of continued contact with the adoptee. In each adoption case, the parties should sign to acknowledge they received notice of the options available under Act 101. If the parties do not sign an acknowledgement, then proof that they were served with the notice should be provided to the court. A sample of the Act 101 notice is included below.
Please click below to read more. 

Adult Adoptions

The process for adoption of an adult does not include many of the requirements present for adoption of a minor. Specifically, an adult adoption only requires a petition for adoption and consent of the adoptee and their spouse, if applicable. No background checks or home study is required. You also do not need to terminate the rights of the natural parent(s). One step that is more intensive than a minor adoption is potential name change. If looking to change your name as an adult pursuant to an adoption, you must also follow the steps for a civil name change.

Counsel for Child in Adoption

The adoptee may be appointed an attorney to represent their interests in the context of an adoption matter. Specifically, if a petition for involuntary termination of the natural parent(s)' rights is pending. When presiding over a petition for involuntary termination, the court must consider the needs and welfare of the child(ren) involved. A major factor is the emotional bond between the parent and child and potential consequence of severing that bond. A parent's representation of love and affection for a child without further corroboration, are not sufficient to prevent termination of their rights based on the best interests of the child.

Home Study for Adoption

A standard adoption will require a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency or other approved social worker. This process can be expensive and takes a number of months to complete as several visits to your home will be required. The social worker completing the report would observe the home and ask certain questions of the prospective parents. A recommendation as to whether the home is suitable for a child and whether the parents should be permitted to adopt is included in the report. All of this information is submitted to the court in connection with your adoption petition. A Report of Intent to Adopt should be filed to get started with the home study process.

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.

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.

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