Our Matrimonial Law attorneys can assist you with third-party adoptions (unrelated persons), kinship adoptions (family or related persons), and step-parent adoptions. In some cases, the biological parents are unable to raise and care for their child, and may voluntarily seek to have that child adopted. In other cases, the Office of Children of Youth or possibly a family member who has taken in a child may seek to have the parental rights of the biological parents terminated due to neglectful behavior toward the child. In a step-parent adoption, the spouse of a biological parent may have stepped into the place of a parent and wish to adopt the child.
Get started today by taking our Online Evaluation -OR- To discuss these and many other situations where an adoption is desired, schedule a consultation at our office in Erie, Pennsylvania, by calling (814) 456-4000.
With step-parent adoptions, you do not need an intermediary (third party agency) involved or a home study. There are several ways to go about a step-parent adoption. One way is that the biological parent whose rights are being terminated can consent to it. This is ideal because it cuts out the step of having a court hearing to involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights. If the biological parent is not willing to consent, you can schedule a hearing. You have an involuntary termination hearing before you have an adoption hearing. The Court determines whether that parent’s rights should be terminated and whether the step-parent should be permitted to step in and adopt the child. There has to be six months of no contact or involvement between the biological parent and the child before you can file a petition for involuntary termination of that parent’s rights. A hearing gets scheduled, and if the parent wants to contest it, they will have to defend themselves to the Court. Once a termination is granted, we then schedule an adoption hearing for the step-parent. In order to successfully and properly complete the step-parent adoption process, you should have an attorney to help you through this process.
In a step-parent adoption, what is the Pennsylvania law for post-adoption contact with the biological parent?
Pennsylvania law now requires that before parents can consent to give up their rights to their child, they must be notified of their rights regarding post-adoption contact. We send out a notice informing the parent that they may have these rights and that they might want to talk to an attorney about their rights. If all parties agree, there may be a contract entered permitting post-adoption contact with the biological parent.
How long does the adoption process take?
It depends on how complicated it is going to be. If you have the consent of the other parent, and it is a step-parent adoption, for example, it takes just a few months. If you are going to try to terminate rights of a parent, then it takes longer.