There is nothing more special than adding a new member to your family. From 1999-2018, 13,149 adoptions took place in Pennsylvania alone. Every child deserves a loving home, but understanding the legalities of adoption before beginning the process is important, as there are critical components involved for both the adopted child and the child’s biological family and new adoptive parents. Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. is here to connect your family to the best resources to welcome a child into your life.
Types of Adoption in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are numerous types of adoptions available to families looking to adopt or utilize adoption services for their child(ren).
- Domestic adoption: When the adoption takes place within the United States, this is known as domestic adoption. Domestic infant adoption is the most common form of domestic adoption, though the adoption of younger children is also common.
- International adoption: When the adoption takes place outside of the United States, this is international adoption. Because each country, state, and county may have different regulations on adoption, it is imperative to have a family law attorney who is versed in the adoption process or to work with a reputable agency that can ensure you are abiding by the law.
- Foster to adopt: Though the goal of foster programs is to reunite families, according to the North American Council on Adoptable Children, “the percentage of children who leave care to adoption has remained steady at about 21 to 23 percent of all foster care exits.” When a child is placed in the home through foster to adopt, the intention is that the child will become available for adoption. Often, these are children who are part of a sibling group, who may be older or may have special needs. The foster to adopt process in Pennsylvania is sometimes challenging, so it’s important to work with those familiar with the process.
- Open adoption: An open adoption allows for identifying information to be shared between the adoptee, adoptive family, and biological family. This may occur through visits, letters, phone calls, emails, etc. A semi-open adoption, allows non-identifiable information to be shared between the parties through an intermediary. However, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not have legally enforceable open adoptions.
- Closed adoption: In a closed adoption, no identifying information about any involved party is exchanged, and once finalized, the records are sealed.
- Stepchild adoption: When a family is united through a second marriage, a stepparent may wish to formalize the relationship through stepparent adoption.
- Kinship Adoption: When another family member wishes to adopt a relatives child to avoid adoption or the foster care system, this is known as kinship adoption. This is common among grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.
- Adult adoption: Though this may sound taboo, this is a valid option for some Pennsylvania families. In certain cases, a family may be fostering an older child and when that child ages out of the foster system, the family may decide to go forward with an adoption.
- Embryonic adoption: In some cases, a couple may go through in vitro fertilization to help with their pregnancy journey. However, when the couple has completed their family, they may choose to place the embryos up for adoption. There, the adoptive mother has the embryos placed into her uterus via in vitro.
Though much of the country utilizes the same forms of adoption, it is important to know that each state and locality may have different regulations in place.
The Pennsylvania Adoption Process
The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) outlines eight steps to complete an adoption in Pennsylvania.
- Agency Selection
- Family Profile
- Matching Process
- Pre-Placement Visitation
- Adoption Finalization
Under Pennsylvania adoption laws, it is important to remember:
- Any individual may adopt.
- Any individual may be adopted, regardless of his or her age or residence.
- The child’s parent(s) may relinquish the child to a child-placing agency or directly to the adoptive parents.
Because of this, there are many phases and legal checks to the process so it can cause anxiety, especially if you know the child.
Pennsylvania Adoption: Kalinoski Law Offices, P.C.
If you are considering adopting or utilizing the adoption services in Pennsylvania, you will likely need a family law attorney who can aid you in the adoption process to ensure that the right choice is made for your family, the child, and the child’s biological parents.