By Dan Marnen:

An adoption is the legal process in which a person receives the rights and responsibilities and parenting of a child, relieving the child’s biological or legal parents from those duties and privileges. The child can be related to the adopter, but does not have to be. In Pennsylvania, there is not a maximum age for when a person can be adopted.

Consent to Adoption

Adoption can be done privately or facilitated by an agency; the main issue is that both biological parents’ rights must be terminated before the adoption can occur; that can happen either voluntary or involuntary. The required form is the Consent to Adoption, which verifies that the parents agree to terminate their rights. The biological father can sign at any time (even before the actual birth) while the birth mother must wait 72 hours after the baby is born before signing.

If the birth parents will not sign the consent form, the adopting parents can file a Petition to Involuntary Terminate the rights of the birth parent. This can be done if only one of the biological parents signs the Consent to Adoption form or one of them cannot be found. There is also a way to involuntarily terminate their birth parent’s right if, for at least 6 months, has behaved in a way that presumes he or she is relinquishing his or her parental claim or has failed to perform parental duties.

Report of Intention to Adopt

Within 30 days of the child being placed with the potential adoptive family, a Report of Intention to Adopt with the court must be filed to begin proceedings of the adoption. In some cases, a home study will also be required before the child can be placed with the family. Once the court proceedings begin, there will be hearings regarding the voluntary or involuntary termination of rights by the birth parents, whether the home study had positive results, and each potential adoptive parent must provide child abuse and criminal record histories before the first year of the final adoption hearing. Potential adoptive parents also must provide an FBI fingerprint based record check to ensure the safety of the child’s placement.

The adoption can include agreements between the adopting parents and the birth family’s relatives to keep in contact or have communication. It is all up to what the adopting parents think is for the child’s best interest.

The entire adoption process can be quite confusing and rather difficult at times, especially when you have to fill out so many complicated forms. Hiring an experienced attorney can ease this confusion and help make the adoption a wonderful and positive experience as you welcome a new member into your family. Call the attorneys at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox today at (814) 833-1987 and let us help you achieve your perfect family.