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What is the Adoption Process in Pennsylvania? (Part Two)
In our last post on the adoption process in Pennsylvania, we discussed how important the decision to adopt is for all involved. We also talked about the first step in the adoption process, which involved either voluntary relinquishment of a child, or involuntary termination of parental rights. In our second part, we'll be diving into adoption further to discuss who is eligible to adopt, who can be adopted, and what else needs to happen to go through with an adoption..
First the parents rights must be terminated
Adoptions cannot take place until parental rights have been terminated, either voluntarily or otherwise. This process will involve a court decision, and an adoption will typically be granted if a judge has decided to terminate a parent's rights. So once the rights have been terminated, who can adopt? The simple answer is anybody over the age of 18. There is a process which we'll get into later on, but any individual over 18 is eligible to adopt a child. Whether this be a young couple or a single prospective parent.
There is no age limit with adoption
Who can be adopted? Anyone can be adopted. It's not limited to children of a certain age. An adult can be adopted if the adopting parents so choose. The majority of adoptions tend to be of children aged one to two though. Now that we understand who can adopt and be adopted, let's talk about that process. Not just anyone who applies for an adoption is going to be approved to do so. There are a series of checks that must be done to ensure to the best of the court's ability that the child will be entering a healthy environment. Those checks are as follows:
- Pennsylvania criminal history check
- FBI background check
- Department of Public Welfare child abuse clearance
- Home study
The goals of the first three checks is to ensure the adopted child is not entering into an environment where there is a history of irresponsible actions or drug abuse. These checks will also make sure children are not being adopted into the homes of known sex offenders or people who would otherwise exploit the child. Anything from citizenship to driving records is combed through for this. In some cases, a home study may be involved as well. A home study would involve a representative coming out to the house to observe and report on the living conditions. They would look at things such as the financial situation, the home environment, the religious background, whether or not there are other children, whether or not there was past abuse, or if there had been drug use. They look into the family biography to dig up as much information as they can to make an educated decision on whether or not to approve the adoption. It should also be noted that open adoptions are a possibility. Open adoptions are a form of adoption where the biological families still retain certain rights with their children, despite their parental rights being terminated. The specific conditions of open adoptions can be defined at the time of adoption. Some families opt to only allow mail and/or photo correspondence, while others may be more open to having personal visitation as an option.
Adoption cases are a happy occasion and we love handling adoption cases
We love handling adoptions at the Law Office of Roy Galloway because adoptions are often a very happy occasion. In most cases, a loving home is opening their world and expanding their family to a child who otherwise had no family. Perhaps their parents had passed away or they were previously living in abusive circumstances. We have certainly seen both sides though, and have dealt with cases where parental rights or grandparent rights were terminated due to neglect or because the parents were incapacitated due to mental or physical illness. It can be tough, and we understand. If you're thinking of going through an adoption at this time, we'd be happy to hold your hand through the whole process. Don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway to ask how we can help you.