People Adopt For Many Reasons

There are a number of situations when it is in the best interest of a child for someone other than his or her biological parents to take on the role of primary parent. A parent may be seriously ill. A parent may be in jail, involved in crime, or caught in drug addiction. Or perhaps the parent is simply too young to adequately provide for a child.

Pennsylvania allows almost anyone to adopt, as long as they are over 18 years of age. For example, stepparents can adopt stepchildren, adults can adopt adults, single people can adopt, and same-sex couples can adopt jointly. Foster parents do not have any automatic standing to adopt foster children.

At the Harrisburg law firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, our adoption attorneys assist grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, stepparents other relatives and non-relatives with adoption.

Call 717-827-4074 to speak to a Harrisburg stepparent adoption lawyer at Shaffer & Engle. We help families provide a loving and stable home for a child.

Home Study

Most adoptions begin with a home study, but Pennsylvania does not require a home study if the adoption involves a stepparent, grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt. Otherwise a home study will be required. Prospective adoptive parents will be prevented from adopting if they have a criminal history or a history of child abuse, if they are too old, or if they have a terminal medical condition.

Termination Of Parental Rights

Any type of adoption does require the termination of parental rights of one or both biological parents (only one parent in a stepparent adoption). Where the parents have agreed to the adoption, termination of parental rights can be accomplished in two ways: one requires attendance at a hearing and one does not. Parents who consent to an adoption and voluntarily relinquish their rights may sign a consent to the adoption.

If one parent is refusing to allow the adoption, there are grounds upon which the prospective adoptive parent can have the biological parents' parental rights terminated. This is a more serious matter and strong evidence will be required to justify this action. Evidence to support termination of parental rights can include:

  • Failure to pay child support
  • Failure to send gifts and cards on birthdays and holidays
  • Failure to inquire about the child's health and well-being
  • Failure to visit the child or file for custody
  • Proof of drug or alcohol addiction that is not being treated
  • Proof of how drug or alcohol addiction is impacting the birth parent's parenting ability
  • If the parent is incarcerated, length of sentence and failure to attempt to overcome obstacles to form a relationship

Pennsylvania provides eight methods for involuntary termination of parental rights. In all involuntary termination cases, the Court will require testimony to establish the basis for termination and a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed for the child.

The final step is for the adoptive parents to petition the court to confirm the birth parents' consents to adoption. We can assist you in filing all required paperwork and with required court appearances.

Contact A Pennsylvania Consensual Adoption Lawyer

Contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, to speak with a Harrisburg relative adoption attorney. We accept credit cards. We offer daytime, evening and weekend appointments. Call 717-827-4074. We have offices in Harrisburg, serving all communities in Dauphin County, Cumberland County, York County, Northumberland County and Franklin County.