How to Adopt in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania isn’t just home to the Liberty Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Hershey’s Chocolate Factory. It’s also home to families seeking adoption opportunities and resources to begin their journey. Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in Pennsylvania.
What you need to know about adopting a baby in Pennsylvania
To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked question about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in Pennsylvania.
What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in Pennsylvania?
Any individual may be eligible to adopt a child in Pennsylvania if they pass criminal background checks and get an approved home study.
How much does it cost to adopt a baby in Pennsylvania?
- Medical expenses for the Birth Mother and child
- Counseling services for the Birth Mother
- Agency fees
- Training and support services
- The cost to complete a home study
- Attorney and legal fees
How do you become a Foster Parent in Pennsylvania?
- Be at least 21 years old
- Pass a state medical exam and be physically able to care for a child
- Pass criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks
Meet the residence requirements to ensure your home has the following:
- At least one flushing toilet, sink and bathtub/shower with both cold and hot water
- A functional heating system
- A telephone
- A clean mattress, pillow, sheet, and blanket for each child
- Meet the child safety standards
- Understand child discipline regulations
Can you finalize an international adoption in Pennsylvania?
The Adoptive Parents file an authenticated copy of:
- The foreign adoption decree
- The child’s visa
- The child’s birth certificate
- The Adoptive Parents are present for the adoption hearing in the foreign country
- The child was issued a visa that grants them citizenship after the foreign court entered the final adoption decree
- The Pennsylvania court reviewed the documents and issued a final adoption decree
What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in Pennsylvania?
- Report all fees and expenses in court
- Ensure the Prospective Parents have completed a home study
- Prove the Prospective Parents with all known information about the Birth Parents and child
It is important to remember that facilitators only help with the advertising and matching of their clients. Once a Prospective Adoptive Family and Birth Mother have been matched, the facilitator will refer their clients to adoption professionals who will then help with the remaining process.
Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.
What you need to know about placing your baby for adoption in Pennsylvania
If you are considering placing your child for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption for your child in Pennsylvania.
Who must consent to an adoption in Pennsylvania?
- The parents of the adoptee
- The spouse of the Prospective Adoptive Parent, unless they join in the petition to adopt
- The guardian of an incapacitated adoptee
- The guardian of an adoptee who is under 18 years old, if the child has no parent whose consent is required
- Any adoptee who is at least 12 years old
The husband of the Birth Mother is not required if the court proves he is not the child’s Birth Father.
For more information about adoption consent in Pennsylvania, click here.
When is consent not necessary for adoption in Pennsylvania?
- The adoptee is 18 years or older
- The adoptee is under 18, but has no living parent requiring consent
- The parental rights of the parent have been terminated
- The court finds grounds for involuntary termination of rights
- Failed or refused to perform parental duties
- Has repeatedly harmed or abused the child
- Is unknown, cannot be found, or did not claim paternity within 3 months of the child’s birth
- Is the Presumed Father but not Birth Father of the child
- Is the child’s father by rape or incest
- Has the child in the care of another person, and fails to remedy the conditions that led to the child’s placement within a reasonable period of time
- In the case of a new born, has failed to contact or support the child for at least 4 months
- Has been convicted of homicide or aggravated assault of their child
You're Not Giving Up
“Giving up a baby for adoption” is the phrase that is often used when discussing a woman’s decision to create an adoption plan. It can be very hurtful for a woman to hear that she is “giving up” her baby when she is making a very difficult decision based on the love she has for her unborn child. For that reason, there is an effort today to introduce more positive adoption language to recognize these brave women. If you are a woman who is considering adoption in Pennsylvania, know that you are not “giving up” your baby, but instead are making a very courageous decision to provide a safe and loving home for your baby.
How and when can Birth Parents consent to adoption in Pennsylvania?
In a Pennsylvania adoption, consent to adoption may be given 72 hours after the child’s birth, but a Putative Father may give his consent at any time.
A written petition to consent or to relinquish parental rights may be presented to court and a hearing should be held within 10 days of filing. The consent shall include the date and place of its execution and names and addresses and signatures of at least two persons who witnessed its execution and their relationship to the consenter.
Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, a Birth Mother may revoke her consent, in writing, up to 30 days after the consent to adoption. After the 30 days, consent is irrevocable.
A Birth Father may revoke his consent, in writing, up to 30 days after the birth of the child or consent to adoption, whichever occurs latest. After the 30 days, consent is irrevocable.
- 60 days after the birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever occurs later
- 30 days after the entry of the adoption decree
What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, paternity for a child born out of wedlock can be established the following ways:
- If the Birth Parents have previously been married
- If there is clear evidence and prior court determination that the man is the Birth Father
- If there is clear evidence that the man openly holds out the child to be his and either receives the child into his home or provides support for the child
- Both the Birth Mother and Father sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity
- The court issued an adjudication of paternity
Pennsylvania offers a registry where men who believe they have fathered a child may file an acknowledgement of paternity. The acknowledgement requires the consent of the Birth Mother, but if she fails to respond or refuses to acknowledge his paternity, the Putative Father will only be granted the right to receive notice about the termination of parental rights of the child.
For more information about Birth Father rights in Pennsylvania, click here.
Home study and Post Placement Requirements in Pennsylvania
Prospective Adoptive Parents in Pennsylvania are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and a postplacement assessment after the adoption takes place. Both will assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.
What is a home study and what happens during the process?
A home study is an assessment of the Prospective Adoptive Family and their home to ensure they are ready to pursue adoption. The home study will include a report that evaluates the family’s home life; parenting skills; age; physical and mental health; social, cultural, and religious background; facilities and resources; and their ability to manage their resources. Interviews from members of the household may be conducted to evaluate their attitude about the adoption.
- A State criminal history report
- A finger-print based Federal criminal background check
- A certification stating whether or not they are named in the central registry as a perpetrator of child abuse
To learn more about the home study process in Pennsylvania, click here.
Who oversees a home study in Pennsylvania and who is included in it?
A home study in Pennsylvania may be conducted by a licensed social worker, licensed adoption agency or local public child care agency. The Prospective Parents and any person 18 years or older living in the house will investigated during the home study.
Why would my home study not be approved in Pennsylvania?
- Been found guilty of a drug-related offense in the last 5 years
- Been found guilty at any time of homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, sexual assault, incest, prostitution, sexual abuse of a child or endangering the welfare of a child
- Been named in the central registry as a perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse committed within the last 5 years or is named in the central registry as the perpetrator of a founded report for a school employee committed within 5 years
Is a home study different for stepparent or relative adoptions in Pennsylvania?
A home study and report for intent to adopt is not required for an adoption by the child’s stepparent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle, unless otherwise ordered by court.
What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby from another state?
Any out-of-home placement of a child outside of Pennsylvania is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?
After a child has been placed into their adoptive home, a post placement study will take place to monitor to transition and ensure the adoption is still in the child’s best interest.
- The name and address of the agency or intermediary that arranged the adoption
- The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth, and religious affiliation of the child
- The date of the child’s placement into the adoptive home
- A statement that medical history information was obtained and if not obtained, a statement of the reason as to why
- The Adoptive Parents’ age, sex, health, and racial, ethnic, and religious background
- The suitability of the placement, including the physical, mental, and emotional needs and welfare of the child
What are the requirements for a Foster to Adopt placement in Pennsylvania?
- Get an approved home study
- Receive training and coaching
- Be interviewed about the transition from foster to adoption
In addition to these requirements, Foster Parents who want to adopt a child in their care will be subject to the same laws and requirements of any Adoptive Parent.
For more information about foster and adoption in Pennsylvania, click here.
Pennsylvania Adoption Agencies and Professionals
Pennsylvania is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or seeking resources to place your child for adoption, these professionals will guide you through the legal pathways and offer you support throughout your journey:Adoption from the Heart
1-888-612-3631Adoption Services by Friendship House
610-327-2200Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption
1-800-585-7926Adoption Connection PA
Things to do in Pennsylvania
If you find yourself in Pennsylvania awaiting an adoption to be finalized or to meet your new baby, make sure to visit some of the state’s most popular attractions before you leave.
PNC Park in Pittsburgh
Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square
Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh
A note from Adoption Network Law Center
No matter your decision, we appreciate the time you have taken to read about how to adopt in Pennsylvania. Adoption Network Law Center wishes you the best of luck and is available to answer any further questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit https://adoptionnetwork.com/ to read more about our services. Whether you’re a soon-to-be Birth Parent or Prospective Adoptive Parent, ANLC wishes you the best on your adoption journey.
To learn more about adoption in Pennsylvania, click here.