How to Adopt a Child in Pennsylvania
Ever thought about adopting a child in Pennsylvania? The following 7 steps will walk you through what you need to know about how to adopt a child in PA:
1. Commit Yourself to Adoption to Grow Your Family
Before you adopt a baby in Pennsylvania, you need to fully commit yourself to this path to parenthood. Parenthood is always going to be difficult; financially, mentally, physically and emotionally. Becoming a parent through adoption is also difficult, but many of the challenges are unique to the adoption process.
It’s important that you’re ready to face these challenges and that you feel ready to remain committed to the PA adoption process before you begin. You’ll need to:
Decide if adoption is the right option for your family
Educate yourself thoroughly about adoption
Address any lingering emotional issues with infertility, the loss of a child, or dreams of having a biological child before pursuing the dream of adoption
Be on the same page as your spouse, and remain united and clear in your adoption goals
If you’ve done that and feel that adopting an infant in Pennsylvania is right for you, it’s time to move on to the next step.
2. Decide Which Type of Adoption You Want, and Understand the Requirements
There are several different types of adoption in Pennsylvania that you can pursue, each of which will have a different set of adoption requirements that you may want to consider.
The three most common ways to adopt PA kids include:
Adoptions agencies that work with birth and adoptive families in the U.S. are also known as domestic adoption agencies. There are smaller local agencies, and there are national agencies. National adoption agencies in Pennsylvania, like American Adoptions, offer all of the services that birth and adoptive parents need for an adoption, including 24/7 birth parent counseling, shorter wait times, financial protection and more.
While the majority of children in Pennsylvania foster care are reunited with biological family members, 25 percent of foster care children will become eligible for adoption in Pennsylvania. Many of these children are part of a sibling group, are older, or have additional needs.
Learn more about foster care adoption requirements in Pennsylvania here.
Adopting a child from outside of the U.S. is known as international or intercountry adoption. The children that are eligible for adoption through international adoption as well as the cost, regulations and requirements will all vary depending on the country you adopt from and the international adoption agencies in Pennsylvania you work with.
You can learn more about international adoption in PA here.
3. Decide Which Pennsylvania Adoption Professional You Want to Work With
This may be the most important step of adopting a baby in Pennsylvania, because the adoption professional you work with will be your guide through the entire child adoption process. Before choosing who to adopt through, you should consider the following tips:
Adopting without an agency in Pennsylvania greatly increases your risk for adoption fraud and financial loss as you won’t have the professional experience of a licensed adoption professional.
Choosing adoption agencies in PA based solely on price could jeopardize your safety and quality of services provided to birth and adoptive families.
Talking to families that have worked with the agency can help you gain a clearer picture of what to expect.
There are several different types of adoption professionals, including adoption facilitators, adoption law firms and adoption law centers. Take time to educate yourself about these PA adoption providers, and the risks and benefits associated with each.
4. Begin the Adoption Process as a Waiting Adoptive Family
This step of the process to adopt a baby in Pennsylvania involves a lot of paperwork and planning. Prospective adoptive parents with American Adoptions fill out their Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ) at this time, which details how you envision your adoption. Your APQ is used to pair you with expectant mothers who have similar hopes for their adoption.
During this time, you’ll also create an adoption profile for expectant mothers to view, you’ll undergo the PA adoption home study process and more. Once you’ve been approved to adopt in Pennsylvania, you’re considered an “active waiting family” who is waiting for an expectant mother to choose you.
5. Wait for an Adoption Opportunity with Expectant Parents
Most hopeful adoptive parents want to know how long adoption takes. With a private domestic adoption like American Adoptions, entering into an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother can take several weeks or several months after expectant mothers begin viewing your adoption profile. This variance in time depends on a number of factors, especially your openness to a wide range of potential birth mothers, but every pregnant woman is looking for something different in prospective adoptive parents for her child, so much of this time spent waiting comes down to the preferences of individual expectant mothers.
Seventy-five percent of active waiting families with American Adoptions in Pennsylvania are placed with their child within 1 to 12 months.
6. Finalize Your Adoption in Pennsylvania
Once you’ve entered into an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother, she will need to wait at least 72 hours after the birth of the baby before she can offer her consent to an adoption. If she offers her consent to the adoption after this waiting period, she is voluntarily terminating her parental rights.
For parents adopting a child outside of Pennsylvania, you’ll need to complete the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) before you and your child return home. For parents who adopt PA kids and live within the state, you won’t need to complete the ICPC process. ICPC is just an additional step in the adoption process that parents who adopt a baby across state lines must take to ensure that all children adopted are going to a safe home.
You’ll work with a Pennsylvania adoption attorney to schedule your adoption finalization hearing at your local court of common pleas. Your adoption finalization is when the judge grants you your parental rights in the form of a final adoption decree, which completes the PA adoption process.
7. Continue Your Adoption Journey
While the Pennsylvania adoption process legally ends with finalization, the adoption journey for your family and birth family is one that lasts a lifetime.
Studies show that open adoptions are highly beneficial for everyone involved, especially adoptees, so this type of adoption is always encourage whenever a situation allows. Open adoptions allow contact between the birth and adoptive family to remain open to whatever extent both parties feel comfortable and happy with. Most open adoptions include the exchange of letters, photos, calls, emails and visits with varying frequency.
How much contact you wish to share after placement is established when creating your adoption plan, and then adoptive parents and expectant parents are paired together based on similar requests for post-adoption contact. American Adoptions can also help facilitate open adoption and semi-open adoption contact for up to 18 years after placement.
Want to learn how to adopt Pennsylvania kids? Call 1-800-ADOPTION to begin.
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.