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Shaffer & Engle Personal attention. Compassionate response. Fast Results.

Can Foster Parents Automatically Adopt A Child Placed in Their Care

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By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Adoption Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

Foster parents have no legal standing to pursue the adoption of children placed in their care without the consent of the child welfare agency that has legal custody of the foster child, or unless they can establish that they stand in loco parentis to the child.

For example

A former foster mother lacked standing to pursue adoption or visitation proceedings relative to children, who were removed from her home pursuant to a court order following allegations of abuse, where the former foster mother had not been awarded legal custody of the children, and, at the time she filed her petition seeking visitation or custody, she was no longer a licensed foster care provider. The former foster mother did not stand in loco parentis to the children, as would confer standing to pursue a petition for adoption or visitation of the children. Furthermore, the former foster mother had not assumed obligations incident to a parental relationship, and, although she had physical possession of the children and discharged duties as to the children's day-to-day needs, it did not follow that she was in loco parentis or had undertaken the rights and responsibilities that existed between a parent and child.

If you are a foster parent and have questions about seeking the adoption of a child placed into your care by the child welfare agency, contact an experienced attorney.  We've handled these cases for 8 years as a court-appointed master.  Don't trust your case to just any lawyer, call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.


My husband and I have been foster parents to the same little boy for 5 years. Jacob was 4 months old when placed with us. He is now over 5. The courts ruled to send him back home to his biological mother almost a year ago. The county in which he is through messed up this case badly and they will freely admit it. I have been in contact with DPW Deputy Secretary Beverly Mackareth who feels I should be consulting and attorney to find out what rights I do have. There have been neglect and safety issues since Jacob's over night visits began almost a year ago. I just have a lot of questions and a lot of concern. Can someone help me with the county's screw up or does this child have to live with his bio family that he'd rather not even go to see? My concern is for his well being and his best interest. Nobody else seems to have that as a priority. He has been sexually "experimented" with by his 7 year old sibling, TWICE. Second time there was minor injury that the bio mom knew about, didn't tell anyone and told Jacob he was not allowed to tell...I could go on and on. I just need assistance with this. Court is August 6th and if I don't do something they will send him home to his family. The GAL is against it, but the judges in Schuylkill county are definietly the "reunify no matter what" type. Any input would be appreciated.

Thank you!
Melissa Zettlemoyer

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