Ensuring a Bright Future through Adoption:
Considerate Strategies at Liebmann Family Law
Learn More About Adoption
Adoption is a complex arrangement that impacts the future of numerous individuals. Understanding what goes into a successful adoption can help you avoid costly errors or even a failed adoption.
Who May Adopt?
Pennsylvania places few restrictions on who may adopt a child in the state. All adults seeking to adopt must go through a Home Study process that involves interviews with all members of the household, home inspections, reference checks and criminal background checks among other elements. The Home Study is typically conducted by a representative of the entity facilitating the adoption, whether that be a government agency or a private adoption agency. Private adoption agencies may also have additional requirements for adoptive parents, so long as those requirements do not discriminate or otherwise violate state or federal law.
Gay and lesbian couples may face additional challenges when attempting to adopt. For instance, some adoption agencies affiliated with religious organizations have sought the right to refuse to adopt children to gay couples or individuals.
Who Can Be Adopted?
The parental rights of a minor’s biological parents must be terminated (either voluntarily or by the Court) for a child to be eligible for adoption in Pennsylvania. In cases where a birth mother is surrendering custody of a newborn, the mother must wait 72 hours following the birth before she can terminate her parental rights and consent to the adoption.
Before a final adoption decree is issued, the Court holds a hearing to confirm consent to the adoption. Birth parents may be required to attend this adoption consent confirmation hearing. In addition, children over the age of 12 must consent to being adopted.
Pennsylvania law also allows for the adoption of adults, with the consent of the adoptee. This often occurs in cases where the adoptee is disabled and requires ongoing financial and living assistance.
Types of Adoptions
The process of adoption or the parties involved may differ depending on the circumstances and laws relevant to individual considerations.
Adoptions by family members or step parents
Frequently, step parents will choose to adopt their step children. Also, family members may step in to adopt a child when the child’s biological parents are deceased or incapacitated. These types of adoptions are often easier to conduct, although the state will still require proper vetting of the prospective adoptive parents and termination of the biological parents’ parental rights.
Many adoptions, particularly of infants, are managed by adoption agencies who have worked with the birth mother from the time she made the decision to place her child for adoption. These agencies – whether public or private – typically have processes in place and provide support services for all involved.
It is possible to arrange an adoption directly with a birth mother, without the involvement of an agency or other third parties. But these arrangements carry added complications and risks that make expert legal representation for both parties a must. It’s especially important to recognize that the amount of financial assistance the adoptive parents may provide to the mother is strictly limited to the mother’s medical expenses related to pre-natal, birth and post-partum care, as well as expenses related to the care of the baby between birth and the time the adoption decree is issued. Pennsylvania law prohibits adoptive parents from offering the birth mother any other financial renumeration for agreeing to the adoption.
As with private adoptions, international adoptions can present a host of legal challenges. It is very important to have expert legal counsel to help navigate additional issues having to do with U.S. immigration, the laws of the country where the child is born and requirements specific to Pennsylvania.
Adoptions are among the most complicated areas of family law and the stakes for everyone involved couldn’t be higher. While adoption agencies often provide some legal assistance, it is always best to have someone who is specifically charged with advocating for your interests involved in the process. The family law experts at Liebmann Family Law have the experience and expertise to ensure that you avoid costly and time-consuming errors that can ultimately jeopardize your ability to successfully adopt a child. Here are just a few of the questions we can help you answer:
My Spouse has been helping me raise my child for years, with no contact or support from the biological parent – Can my spouse adopt my child?
What are the grounds for involuntary termination that are most often used in Pennsylvania for an adoption?
What must be done to begin the adoption process?
Is a Court appearance required for a step parent adoption?
How will the adoption effect child support?