Understanding Adoption Law in Philadelphia – Adoptions 101

Adding a child to your family through adoption may seem like the simplest thing in the world – a reflection of the love that you have to give and that you want to share – it is also a complex legal process.  Parental rights of birth parents need to be terminated and the new parents need to be legally provided with parental rights, and in order to accomplish this there are requirements that have to be met. These requirements vary depending upon whether you are adopting through an agency or privately:  certain clearances need to be pursued and investigations into the adoptive parents may need to be conducted. In all cases there are mandatory legal procedures that need to be followed and the courts need to be involved. Adopting a child is a wonderful journey for which you need a legal guide and representative, and the lawyers at Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law are here to help you along the way.

Adoptions can be arranged in a number of ways. Whether through agencies that oversee and supervise the process, through existing family members or step parents, or through private individuals, no matter how the connection is made or what the agreement there are certain steps that must be taken. Private adoptions require well-crafted adoption agreements that protect the rights of both parties. Adoption petitions with supporting paperwork need to be filed in the court, and in some cases a home study evaluation is needed. The household into which a child will be adopted will need to pass certain clearances that involve an investigation of every member over the age of 18. Criminal backgrounds will be checked, and adoptive parents need to complete forms regarding any history of child abuse, a state police criminal record check, an FBI criminal background check, and more. It is important to be forthcoming throughout the process, as issues will delay or even prevent an adoption from going through.

When an adoption is arranged with all parties in agreement, the process can take place quickly, though birth mothers are required by the state of Pennsylvania to wait 72 hours before relinquishing parental rights.  By contrast, a birth father can relinquish his parental rights from the time of conception. Both have the right to revoke that consent within thirty days of the birth of the child or the signing of the consent forms, whichever is later.

Once all paperwork has been submitted and approved, a legal process must take place that terminates the birth parents’ natural parental rights to physical and legal custody of the child. This can only be done through a court order and the issuance of a decree of adoption. This decree conveys and transfers those legal rights and obligations to the adoptive parents. Once this transfer has taken place, the new parents’ rights are identical to those of any natural parent of a child. For help with all aspects of adoption in Philadelphia, make sure that you are working with an attorney who has extensive experience in adoption law and who can help anticipate and protect you from complications. Call Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law today for knowledgeable, compassionate legal representation.

Learn more about Adoption Law HERE.