Adoption is a court procedure by which an adult becomes the legal parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. Adoption creates a parent-child relationship recognized for all legal purposes including child support obligations, inheritance rights and custody.
In Pennsylvania, adoptions are governed by DOMESTIC RELATIONS (TITLE 23). Any individual may be adopted, regardless of his age or residence. Any adult individual may become an adopting parent subject to a check of the petitioners Criminal History Record and Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance.
“Voluntary termination of parental rights” occurs when a parent(s) chooses to give a child up for adoption. In other words, the parent(s) consents to the adoption. However, in the event of child abuse, neglect or abandonment, a petition for an “involuntary termination of parental rights” may be filed. Imprisonment and mental or physical illness may also be grounds for involuntary termination.
When giving a child up for adoption voluntarily, Pennsylvania requires the consent of the parent(s), or other legal guardian. The consent must be in writing and must occur before a judge or notary public.
Under normal circumstances, consent is given by the child's biological mother and biological father (if paternity has been established). However, if the parents have already lost or terminated their parental rights, or if the parents are deceased, consent may be given by:
- An agency or person that's been given custody of the child
- A guardian or guardian ad litem
- A court that has jurisdiction over the child
- A close relative of the child
In Pennsylvania, a petition for adoption and/or termination of parental rights must be filed. A hearing is then scheduled before a Judge. Notice of the hearing must be sent to the party whose rights are being terminated. A private hearing is held and the court may enter a decree terminating the parental rights and in some instances, terminating the obligation of child support.
If you need an attorney with knowledge and experience of the adoption practice in Pennsylvania, contact us today for your free consultation.