Adopting a child is both a wonderful and difficult process that involves tons of bureaucratic red tape, paperwork, and legal procedures. The adoption process has become more complex over the years, leaving many hopeful parents scratching their heads. Whether you’re just at the beginning of the adoption process or are experiencing some roadblocks in the middle of your quest to adopt, these frequently asked questions may be of some help.
Adoption Laws in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 23, Section 2101 to 2910 outline the laws for adoption within the state. The law allows the adoption of all children and certain adults by any unmarried adult, unmarried minor parent of an adoptee, or married couple. PA laws are some of the least strict in terms of who can adopt. If a married couple chooses to adopt, both spouses must agree to the adoption or else one spouse must give the other spouse permission to adopt alone. If the child is 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption. The law does not require home residency prior to the finalization of adoption, but the state adoption agency may require temporary placement.
How Do I Begin the Adoption Process?
There are several routes you can take to begin your journey toward adoption. You can go through a local public adoption agency or a licensed private agency. You can also strive for an independent adoption, using attorneys as defined by Pennsylvania law. Contact these agencies for the initial paperwork you must fill out to begin the process. The process will look different depending on what type of adoption you choose.
How Much Does Adoption Cost?
There is no general cost of adoption. Each adoption costs a different amount depending on several factors. Adopting a child from a public agency (where children come from the foster system) can range from zero dollars to $2,500 in the U.S. Private agency adoptions can cost anywhere between $4,000 to $30,000 or more. Adopting independently comes with a cost of about $8,000 to $30,000. Adopting a child from another country can range from $7,000 to $25,000 or more.
What Decides My Eligibility as an Adoptive Parent?
During a home study, the agency or organization you went with will examine your home life and other factors to decide if you are a candidate for adoption. During the study, a representative will ask you about your personal background, including your upbringing and your parents. You will also need to give information about significant people in your life, your motivation to adopt, expectations you might have for the child, your family environment, your health, education, and employment. You will also need to pass a criminal background check.
How Long Does Adoption Take?
The timeline for a successful adoption will depend on whether the adoptive parent(s) have a specific ethnicity, gender, or child in mind. For instance, the average wait time to adopt a Caucasian infant is two to five years, or at least one year from the date of the home study. Applicants adopting infants of other ethnicities will likely experience a shorter wait time, around six months. The timeframe will vary since birth parents can interview families they want for their children and select the right fit. International adoptions can take weeks to one year or longer.
Do the Birth Parents Have to Consent to the Adoption?
In a typical adoption, both birth parents must give their consent. However, if circumstances such as drug or alcohol abuse remove the child from the home, the child may be available for adoption without the birth parents’ consent. If you don’t want to go through the adoption process alone, it’s best to work with an experienced family law attorney. Our West Chester family attorneys can help you understand the rules of adoption in Pennsylvania and what to do in situations when birth parents do not have to consent to the adoption. Call one of our Pennsylvania firms today for a free case evaluation.