What is the Adoption Process in Pennsylvania? (Part One)

Adoption can be an important milestone in a family’s life, and it’s one of our favorite cases to handle. Adoptions can bring joy not only to the prospective parents, but to the child as well. It can be a complicated process though, and certainly an expensive one. This alone can scare a lot of people away from going through with an adoption. We’re here with this two part series to explain the process and give you some insight into what an adoption entails.

Adopting a child is like giving birth without all of those medical bills. An adopted child has all the rights of a biological child. You have obligations to them as they grow, and they are entitled to inheritance. Most importantly though, adoptions are final. Once you sign the paperwork, there is no difference between that child and one you birthed yourself. It’s a huge step, and you’re helping a bigger cause by adopting a child. In the United States, there are 397,122 children currently living without permanent families. Roughly a quarter of these children are eligible for adoption. In 2012, however, U.S. Families adopted just over 7,000 children. In the same year, 23,396 youth aged out of the foster care system. There simply isn’t enough demand to meet the supply. If you’re interested in finding out more about these statistics, you can visit the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s website.

Now that we’ve gotten through the why, let’s get into the how. There are three main ways in which a child can be adopted:

  • Voluntary relinquishment to an agency
  • Voluntary relinquishment to another party
  • Involuntary termination of parental rights

Voluntary relinquishment to an agency is when the biological parents give their child over to an adoption agency for the agency to take over the adoption process. Children placed in an adoption agency may go on into the foster care system and join those statistics we discussed above. Voluntary relinquishment to another party occurs when the biological parents and another party come together to agree to an adoption with a court’s approval. The biological parents will sign consent to the adoption and the adoption process will begin. This could occur between family members or even neighbors. Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when parents do not consent to their parental rights being revoked. The adopting party in this case needs to prove that the parents are unfit, incapacitated, or has otherwise abandoned their parental duties. This can occur due to a variety of circumstances. Perhaps drugs are involved, creating unsuitable living conditions. Perhaps income disbursement is an issue, the children aren’t being fed, or children are being outright abused. If a parent has simply abandoned their children for more than six months, it is also grounds for involuntary termination.

The ultimate goal is to give the adopted child a better life

The end goal of any adoption is to give the adopted child a better life than they would have had otherwise. Strong role models and supportive family members are key to the mental health of a growing child. What we’ve covered in this post, however, is just the first step in adopting a child. If you’d like to know more, be sure to read part two of the adoption process explained! If you’re thinking about adoption, we’d be happy to hold your hand every step of the way. Just reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway to discuss how we can help.