Pennsylvania Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about how to adopt in Pennsylvania

Griffin Hunsaker March 31, 2016

Welcome, Pennsylvanians! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption within your own state. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in Pennsylvania.

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: general information about adopting in Pennsylvania, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in slide 6), foster adoption (slide 20), international adoption (slide 29), and stepparent adoption (slide 33). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (slide 36).

Are you interested growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.

Please note:
1. Please note:

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

Fun fact.

Adoption in Pennsylvania at a Glance
3. Adoption in Pennsylvania at a Glance

Kids in foster care available for adoption in 2012: 1,924
Foster adoptions completed in 2012: 1.902
International adoptions completed in 2012: 295

Can I Adopt in Pennsylvania?
4. Can I Adopt in Pennsylvania?

Adoption requirements in the state of Pennsylvania are as follows:

Age: 18 or older
Marital Status: Adoptive parents in Pennsylvania can be single, married, or divorced.
Finances: You must demonstrate that you are able to financially support your own family.
Housing: You must own or rent a safe residence that has space for a child.
Work: You can work inside or outside your home or be retired.
Personality: Must be flexible, energetic, open to learning new things, and willing to work with social workers and other support people.
Experience: No parenting experience is required to adopt.

NOTE: A prospective adoptive parent cannot have been convicted of child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against children, homicide or other serious crimes.

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our adoption forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in Pennsylvania
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in Pennsylvania

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in Pennsylvania.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Pennsylvania, it is legal to complete your adoption through an adoption attorney or through an adoption agency.

Some people pursuing a private adoption find it beneficial to work with a professional adoption facilitator, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

While paid adoption facilitators are banned or restricted in many states, Pennsylvania state laws have no such ban.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you complete your adoption privately (through an attorney) or through an agency, you will need to complete an adoption home study.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your adoptive partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on Slide Three.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

Many states limit advertising for adoption but Pennsylvania statutes do not address the issue.

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

Creating a listing on Adoption.com Parent Profiles is an excellent way to connect with potential birth parents across the country. If you want to maximize your exposure to potential birth parents and receive personalized coaching and support, consider using Adoption Navigators. You’ll also want to coordinate with an agency about this.

Parent Profiles
11. Parent Profiles

Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person.

Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.

What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit adoption.com/profiles.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

In Pennsylvania, relinquishment of a child for and consent to adoption must be done before a judge. At that time, recognized birth parents will swear that they are freely relinquishing their parental rights.

There is a waiting period of 72 hours before consent can be given by a child's birth parents.

Birth parents can revoke their consent up to 30 days after the signed agreement.

Adoption Navigators
13. Adoption Navigators

Adoption Navigators provides you with quality expertise in sharing your dream of adopting. We provide unparalleled adoption marketing and one-on-one coaching to beautifully show expectant parents who you are and tell your story. With Adoption Navigators you receive premier advertising exposure on Adoption.com, assistance building your profile and creating a video, and expanded reach through social media and search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Adoption.com has more than 16 years of experience helping families connect with potential birth parents.

Let us help you increase your exposure to potential birth parents and decrease your adoption wait time.

Click here to get started.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

A birth father’s consent to adoption is required if he is married to the birth mother or has commenced proceedings to establish paternity. If an unmarried biological father of an infant has not initiated efforts to establish paternity by the time placement has occurred, he has no legal parental rights. Pennsylvania maintains a putative father registry which allows fathers to make known their efforts to establish paternity.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws About Birth Parent Expenses
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws About Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide legal and living expenses for an expectant mother. There are, however, requirements governing such support. Above $500, a court must be advised of the support. Above $2,000, the court must authorize the payment of expenses. Generally, individuals should provide financial support through an adoption agency or attorney. This support can continue for up to six weeks postpartum. If the birth parent chooses to parent the child instead of placing, hopeful adoptive parents are legally entitled to have those expenses reimbursed by the birth parent.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contact agreements are not addressed by Pennsylvania law. A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The contract outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families would have after the adoption is finalized. Post-adoption contact agreements can only be enforced if both parties make it part of their adoption process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

In Pennsylvania, there is a required time period of six months between placement and finalization. Courts generally want assurance that the child has bonded with and is attached to the parents. In order to finalize, you will need to file a petition to adopt and make suitable filings with the court. An attorney can assist you with this process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: A Word About the ICPC
18. Domestic Infant Adoption: A Word About the ICPC

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

Foster Adoption in Pennsylvania
19. Foster Adoption in Pennsylvania

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in Pennsylvania.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Pennsylvania
20. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Pennsylvania

Adoption.com has 243 children from Pennsylvania listed in its photolisting.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
21. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Pennsylvania, you can complete a foster adoption either through a private agency that is licensed to provide foster care services or directly through the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

To find an adoption agency in Pennsylvania and to read reviews of the agency’s service, check out our Pennsylvania Reviews page.

You will still need to complete a home study as part of this process.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
22. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In Pennsylvania, a child can be placed with you for adoption by the SWAN before his/her biological parent’s rights have been terminated. This is called a “legal risk” placement, meaning that it is possible that the child may return to live with his/her birth family. However, these placements are not made unless the agency responsible for the child is actively pursuing the termination of his/her birth parents’ rights.

During a placement like this, you will be considered a foster parent and will need to meet all the requirements for foster parents in Pennsylvania.

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
23. Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contact agreements are not addressed by Pennsylvania law. Therefore, it should be assumed that they are not legally enforceable.

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The agreement outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families will have after the adoption is finalized.

In instances in which the child’s biological parents’ rights have been involuntarily terminated, the well-being of the child needs to be first and foremost in everyone’s minds if a post-adoption contact agreement is created. Caseworkers and therapists should be consulted in making decisions about contact after adoption.

Finalization
24. Finalization

In Pennsylvania, there is a required time period of six months between placement and finalization. Courts generally want assurance that the child has bonded with and is attached to the parents. In order to finalize, you will need to file a petition to adopt and make suitable filings with the court. An attorney can assist you with this process.

Adoption Assistance
25. Adoption Assistance

Pennsylvania offers financial assistance programs for most children adopted from the foster care program. This assistance can include:

- Reimbursement (up to $2,000) for adoption-related costs.
- A monthly subsidy for the ongoing care of the child.
- A Medicaid card to assist with medical expenses until the child is 18 years of age.

Foster Adoption: A Word About the ICPC
26. Foster Adoption: A Word About the ICPC

In adopting a child from foster care, there are opportunities to adopt a child from a different state. If this is the case, you will need to comply with the requirements of The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

International Adoption in Pennsylvania
27. International Adoption in Pennsylvania

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in Pennsylvania.

International Adoption: Photolisting
28. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Click here to meet some of them through our Photolisting.

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
29. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards. Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Click here to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in Pennsylvania.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements
30. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

You will not need to attend a court hearing to finalize your child’s adoption in Pennsylvania.

After you have brought your child home, you will need to submit the adoption decree issued by your child’s country of origin, along with a certified English translation, if necessary, to your county clerk.

The documents will be reviewed, and an order recognizing the foreign adoption will be filed and entered. You can request a copy of this order for your personal records.

You will also need to request a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Read more about post-adoption requirements here.

Stepparent Adoption in Pennsylvania
31. Stepparent Adoption in Pennsylvania

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in Pennsylvania.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
32. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights

In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding biological parent’s rights will first need to be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

You will need to consult with an adoption attorney about your desire to adopt. He/she can help you decide if it’s likely that the biological parent would be willing to relinquish rights OR if it would be feasible to pursue involuntary termination of his/her parental rights.

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
33. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

Once parental rights have been terminated, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. You and your spouse will both testify in court regarding the stability of your marital relationship, the bond you’ve developed with your stepchild, and your desire to become the legal parent of your stepchild.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

Works Cited
35. Works Cited

Adoption.com Wiki (Pennsylvania Adoption Laws)
Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network
AdoptUSKids.org
Child Welfare Information Gateway
North American Council on Adoptable Children

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Griffin Hunsaker


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