The most common situation for adoption is within a family: the adopting parent is already related to the child as a step-parent, grandparent, etc.
Persons who wish to adopt can also be matched with children who are in foster care, waiting for adoption. In Pennsylvania, there is a Statewide Adoption Network, which can match children with potential parents. SWAN
It is also possible to adopt a child privately, either directly, or through an intermediary.
Finally, international adoption is still possible, although many countries have restricted this process.
What does adoption cost?
This depends on the policies of the agency you are working with. At one extreme, some adoption agencies charge substantial fees. On the other hand, public agencies may charge only minimal fees. In fact, adoption subsidies are available to cover the costs of adopting, and in some cases, supporting a child who is adopted from foster care.
Legal fees for the adoption itself will vary depending on circumstances, most importantly, whether it is done on an amicable, or contested bases.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
An Adoption Attorney will assist you throughout the process, preparing and filing the necessary paperwork, and attending the hearing with you.
Who can adopt?
Adoption is not limited to married couples. Single parents, and same-sex couples are permitted to adopt. In most cases, with exceptions for adoptions within closely related persons (e.g. a step-parent or grandparent), a home study is required, which will include a criminal and child abuse record check.
What is the legal process?
- The adopting parent and any intermediary must file a report of intention to adopt. In many cases, a home study is required, although this is not required where the adopting parent is closely related to the child by blood or marriage.
- The birth-parents must either give their written consent, or their parental rights must be terminated. This can be done by voluntary relinquishment, or involuntary termination. Grounds for involuntary termination include abandonment, incapacity, abuse or neglect.
- A Petition for Adoption is filed. After a hearing, a Judge will sign an adoption decree. The child’s birth certificate is then updated to list the adopting parents as the child’s parents.
What is the effect of adoption.
Adoption ends the legal relationship between the birth parent(s) and the child. All rights and responsibilities are ended, including the duty of support, rights of inheritance, etc. The adoptive parent(s) assume all of the rights, and duties of a parent.