Philadelphia Adoption Attorney
Making the decision to adopt a child is often a joyous and emotional decision. However, parents often find when it comes time to adopt they are in the middle of a variable maze of paperwork and procedures. Trying to finalize an adoption can be even more emotional than the actual adoption, however, do not be frustrated and give up on your dreams of growing your family.
How Pennsylvania Treats an Adoption
In Pennsylvania, an adoption is the legal creation of a parent-child relationship. While adoption usually occurs with minors, any person may be adopted under Pennsylvania law. There are several different ways that you may adopt a child in Pennsylvania, however, most families or individuals who are looking to adopt do so through an adoption agency. Another type of adoption, which is known as a direct, or open adoption is between the biological parents and the adoptive parents directly.
Terminating Parental Rights
Under the Pennsylvania Family Code, there are several different methods for terminating parental rights of a child’s birth parents. Included in these sections are certain procedures for the parent to voluntarily relinquish her or her parental rights.
The Adoption Code provides that a parent can sign a consent form that indicates his or her consent to have the child placed up for adoption. A child’s birth father can sign the Consent form at any time, which includes signing the form before the child is even born. However, a child’s birth mother cannot execute a consent form until at least 72 hours following the birth of a child. In addition, a birth mother has 30 days from the moment she signs the consent form to revoke the consent, a birth father on the other hand has 30 days from the birth of the child. After this 30-day period has elapsed the consent cannot be revoked.
In addition to the voluntary termination of parental rights, there are also provisions for the involuntary termination of parental rights under the Adoption Code.
The Adoption Process
Adopting a child can be and incredibly difficult and filled with long and complicated paperwork. To begin the adoption process, you will need to work with an adoption agency that will give you an application to fill out. This application process will ask out questions and details about your family, home, and your lifestyle.
After you have begun working with an adoption agency the next step in the process is what is known as a family profile or a home study. The worker who is assigned to your case will conduct this review and build a report. In order to conduct this review and create this report, the worker will come to your home and interview you along with other members of your household. After this process is complete and the worker has compiled all of their data, you will then go through the matching process.
In Pennsylvania, the matching process can range from a very short period of time to a considerable length of time depending on the results of your home visit and how your home and lifestyle would fit the needs of a child. After a child is found, the agency will generally arrange a time for the child and the family to meet so that the child can spend time with the family to determine if your home and family are a good match for the child.
Following the matching process, there will be several more pre-placement visits between you and the child. However, before any adoption can become final post-placement services will monitor the adoption placement for six months before finalizing the adoption.
Finally, the last step in the process is for you and your family to go before a family court judge to finalize the adoption.
The Paperwork Involved in Processing an Adoption
When you and your family have decided that you want to open your home to a child, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork you need to fill out and file. Below is an overview of some of the official legal documents that you will need to fill out.
To begin, a Report of Intention to Adopt should be filed on behalf of the adoptive parents within 30 days of the child being placed. This report provides the Court with information about the adoptive parents, and a home study must be attached to this report. In addition, the Report of Intention to Adopt must also include a statement from the adoptive parents acknowledging that the birth parents have 30 days from when they signed their consents to revoke its contents.
The next report that needs to be filed is called the Report of Intermediary. This report is filed after the parental rights are terminated and includes information regarding the termination of parental rights and the fees paid by the adoptive parents in connection with the adoption. This report must be filled out within six months of placement of the child with adoptive parents unless the parental rights have not been terminated within that time.
The Petition of Adoption is the next document that needs to be filed. This too needs to be filed after parental rights are terminated. In this report, the petitioners are the adoptive parents, and they are asking the Court to enter an Adoption Decree. The petition contains information pertaining to the adoptive parents and includes the new name of the child.
There are countless documents and nuances to these documents and to any of the other documents that you may have to fill out when you are going through the adoption process.
Before a child can be legally adopted in Pennsylvania a family law judge must enter an Adoption Decree. This Decree is made after an adoption hearing. At this hearing, all adoptive parents must attend and there will be:
- Testimony from the adoptive parents
- Testimony from the Intermediary – who is the person or agency that is acting between the parent or parents of the child and the proposed adoptive parents in arranging an adoption placement.
- Testimony from the child if they are over the age of 12. If a child is over the age of 12 then they must testify and consent to the adoption.
- After the hearing and the Court is satisfied, the Court issues an adoption decree and a Certificate of Adoption.
After the Certificate of Adoption is issued, a new birth certificate can be issued that will list the adoptive parents as the child’s parents.
This process can be very emotional for parents, children, and for all those involved in the process. While many of these hearings end in tears, they are usually tears of joy as a family welcomes a new member to their family.
Start Your Family Today
If you or your family has reached the decision that you would like to adopt a child then contact us at The Law Offices of Sadek and Cooper to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact our office by calling (215) 625-0851.