Pennsylvania Adoption Law Stalls in Senate

Pennsylvania adoption law is one of only a handful of states that are still allowing birth parents a 30 day period to revoke consent. The current revocation period has been in effect since 2004. House Bill 58 was introduced in January 2017 to change the law to 14 days. The Bill passed three considerations and was passed by the House in March 2017. It is currently stalled in the Senate. Before that, in 2015, HB 1526 sought a revocation period of five days, which was later changed by the Committee on Children and Youth to 14 days. It also remains in the Senate.

A lengthy revocation period is bad for prospective adoptive parents and may a reason the overall adoptions in the state are declining. No adoptive parents want to bring a child home, fall in love, and care for that child, only to have their hearts broken when birth parents revoke consent.

“I have heard from many would-be adoptive parents who have found it difficult and costly to navigate Pennsylvania’s cumbersome adoption laws and have opted to go elsewhere to adopt a child,” said Petri, the Bill’s sponsor. “The adoption process is unnecessarily challenging, risky and expensive – factors that are not only discouraging would-be adoptive parents, but also hurting Pennsylvania children in need of stable, loving homes. My colleagues and I have introduced a package of bills to streamline the adoption process.”

Currently, birth mothers can provide consent 72 hours after the birth of the child. Birth fathers can give consent before or after the birth. The adoption takes place in two parts. The first part is the termination of parental rights, and the second is the adoption of the child by the prospective adoptive parents.

“Many adoptive parents are unwilling to risk losing a child to a birth parent who changes their mind,” said Petri. “By narrowing the timeframe allowed to rescind consent, many more children stand a chance of being adopted and avoiding foster care. I am hopeful the Senate will act on this important legislation.”

According to The Legal Intelligencer, “For the foreseeable future, it appears that Pennsylvania will continue to provide 30 days to birth parents to revoke their consent to adoption.”