How Hard is Adoption in PA?

The good news is that adoption in PA has few restrictions with its adoption laws. You can adopt regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or religion. Additionally, the Commonwealth doesn't even require a minimum age to adopt.

Although PA has minimal limitations, adoption agencies often have tight restrictions. They may include the adopters' age, number of children, marital status, etc.

For example, some agencies may not allow single parents to adopt. Others put age restrictions in place, allowing only married couples aged 22 to 50 to adopt.

Our adoption lawyers can help you with the adoption planning process to meet agency and state requirements.

Types of Adoption in PA

You have several types of adoption open to you to adopt a child. Each has its own set of adoption requirements. And how quickly you become a parent depends on the type of adoption.

Options include:

Domestic Adoption

This type of adoption generally involves a newborn in the United States. It requires several adoption professionals, including attorneys, agencies, consultants, and facilitators. Generally, infant adoptions are open so that the prospective adoptive parents maintain contact with the biological parents. Sometimes, the adoption is closed, meaning there is no further contact with birth mothers.

Domestic adoption can take as little as a month or two or possibly as long as two years.

International Adoption

International adoptions involve the adoption of children across national borders. As you might suspect, the process is more involved and often more costly. As such, the process may not always be successful.

It requires working with a Hague-accredited adoption service provider authorized to complete the adoption. The Hague Convention is an international agreement with standards for intercountry adoptions.

It also requires filing proper forms with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Department.

You then have to file similar forms for the child's adoption eligibility. Additionally, you'll need to acquire a visa to return the child to the United States. Finally, you'll have to finalize the adoption in PA.

Working with an international agency or adoption lawyer near you is suggested.

Foster Care Adoption

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services oversees the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). It works to help place children throughout the state. You can adopt a child two ways through foster care.

First, foster to adopt, where you become a foster parent. You can then adopt should the child become eligible for adoption.

Second, by adopting directly. In that case, you can request to match with children eligible for adoption in PA.

Kinship Adoption

Relative adoption involves adopting a relative's baby or young family member.

This type of adoption is often less complex than others. First, you've already found the child to adopt. Second, you don't need to complete an adoption home study.

This adoption process can be completed within 60-90 days, whereas domestic adoptions take two years.

Stepchild Adoption

This type of adoption is the most common in the United States. It involves a stepparent becoming the legal parent of a child. Because marriage alone doesn't create the legal right to parent the child, the stepparent must go through the adoption process.

The process requires terminating the rights of one parent through voluntary or involuntary action. Like kinship adoption, you don't have to undergo home studies or post-placement visits. Working with an adoption attorney to handle the necessary paperwork to finalize a stepchild adoption is advised.

Adult Adoption

Pennsylvania law allows for the adoption of anyone, regardless of age. That includes adult adoption of anyone over 18

Typically, adult adoption involves foster parents or stepparents who raised a child but didn't the child when under 18. In other cases, it may apply to those who establish a family relationship and want to secure legal rights.

The process is less stringent than child adoption. For example, you can forgo a home study. In addition, you don't have to terminate parental rights formally.

You still need to undergo background checks. The adoptee must consent to the adoption.

The adoptee loses their rights to inheritance from their biological parent. However, they gain those rights with their adoptive parents.

The Adoption Process in PA

As mentioned, Pennsylvania's adoption laws are not very strict. However, you must go through an often lengthy process to adopt in PA. Here are details of how to become an adoptive parent in PA.

Adoptive families first need to submit clearances and background checks. You must also show that each party can care for the child's holistic needs. Additionally, you must pass a home inspection, known as a home study. Finally, you must prove good physical, mental, and financial health.

Here's a review of the adoption process in PA:

  1. Orientation: Attend sessions to understand the adoption process and your responsibilities.
  2. Home Study: Complete a home study conducted by a licensed social worker or adoption agency. The study evaluates whether you are suitable to adopt.
  3. Matching: Work with agencies, adoption lawyers, or birth parents to find the right match.
  4. Placement: Welcome your child into your home through a legal placement.
  5. Finalization: Complete the legal process to make the adoption permanent.

You'll want an experienced adoption lawyer or professional to assist. They can help prepare you at every stage of the process.

The Cost of Adoption in PA

Costs vary based on the type of adoption. As mentioned, foster care adoption is generally less costly.

For example, the county and state pick up most expenses relating to adoption. The adoptive family or parent generally receives a small daily stipend. That applies from when you complete the adoption until the child turns 18.

Domestic adoptionon the other hand, is not cheap. Adopting a child in PA can cost between $25,000 to $50,000. Those costs represent counseling, fees, legal representation, etc.

You can get some relief from the costs through adoption grants, loans, scholarships, and various tax credits.

Family Lawyers in Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Bucks County, PA

Our family law firm has offices in Norristown and Doylestown, PA. So, if you're ready to adopt a child in PA, get in touch.

Our adoption lawyers have the experience to help you through the adoption process, regardless of type. We focus on helping you find the right match to create the perfect family. You can count on us to get the best results.

Adoption in PA Attorneys

Kimberly J. Krzyzaniak

Kimberly J. Krzyzaniak | Delaware County PA Family Law Attorney

Kimberly J. Krzyzaniak is a dedicated Delaware County family law attorney representing clients involved in divorce, custody and grandparent custody, and mediation matters.

Caitlin Foley

Caitlin Foley family attorney

Caitlin Foley is a highly skilled family attorney with a passion for advocating for her clients during some of the most emotional times of their lives.

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