Adoption Practices and Regulations


Choosing to adopt a child into your family can be a beautiful decision that will benefit both you and the child throughout your life. However, there are important legal restrictions to take note of before and during your foray into the adoption process. While the requirements vary by state, Pennsylvania adoption laws are becoming more uniform with the general requirements throughout the country, with a few differences. Here is some key information to know about adoption in the keystone state.

In Pennsylvania, there are relatively few restrictions on who may adopt a person. Any adult may adopt, and in special circumstances, a minor may adopt another minor child, typically seen in instances of an older sibling adopting a younger sibling. Unmarried couples cannot typically adopt, although there are exceptions to this, and a married couple can adopt a child together, or alone, provided the non-adopting spouse gives consent for the other to do so. There are no age restrictions on adoption in Pennsylvania, so adults may also be adopted in legitimate circumstances.

While there are no age limits on who can be adopted, any person over the age of 12 must give their consent for the adoption to take place. Generally speaking, the birth parents of a person must also give their consent for their child to be adopted, but in circumstances of abuse or neglect where the child is removed from the home, they will be able to find adoption without the consent of their birth parents.

Pennsylvania is also one of the least strict states for adoption practices when it comes to residency periods, and we do not have a requirement for that. However, PA adoption agencies and courts of law can require the child to be placed with their adopting family temporarily prior to finalizing the adoption process.

For many parents involved in an adoption, both the birth parents and the adopting parents, issues of later contact are of high importance. In an open adoption, birth parents will be able to be contacted by their child later in life, in a closed adoption, this will not be an option. The age that the child must be to initiate this contact will vary depending on their own personal case. Even when the case is marked as closed, there is an option for some information to be retained by the adoption agency, for future medical reasons, especially in the case of tracking hereditary disorders.

In our varied practices at Smith & Horwitz, our experienced family law attorneys will handle all your adoption needs, including the specialized components with same-sex adoptions and stepparent adoptions, which are not always focused upon by other law firms. We provide long-term solutions for your family and have over 35 years of experience in providing our clients with the support that they need to take this fulfilling step in the life of their family. To learn more about our services, or for a free consultation on your case, give us a call today at (215) 515-8464.

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