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Who Must Consent to Adoption in Pennsylvania?

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Adoption is a life changing event. The process affects many lives: The adoptive parents, the birth parents, and the child that is being adopted. In addition to the willingness of the new parents to welcome the child into their family, the birth parents may be required to consent to the adoption. Some Pennsylvania adoption consent requirements also necessitate consent from the child who is to be adopted.

Consent from birth parents may be required for a child to be adopted. Per adoption.com, the birth parent’s consent is not required when parental rights have been terminated or the court finds grounds for involuntarily termination of parental rights. Parental consent is also not required when the adoptee is over the age of 18 or if the birth parents are deceased. When the parents are deceased, the child’s guardian or custodian may be required to legally consent to the adoption.

In some cases, the adoptee may need to consent to being adopted. Pennsylvania law requires children 12 years of age or older to consent to adoption. Common misconceptions, as acknowledged by the  North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) may suggest that this only makes up a small number of adoptions. This is not always the case. Child Trends reported that children between 13 and 17 years of age account for 37 % of adopted children nationwide.

Once the appropriate parties have consented, the adoption process begin to can move forward. Unfortunately, the mere act of consent is not enough. There are specific execution requirements for consent to be valid. The birth mother’s consent is invalid if given prior to or within 72 hours after the birth of the child.

The process of adopting a child through an agency is more involved than if the child were adopted privately by a family member or relative. Adoption.com describes the Pennsylvania adoption consent time-frames as follows:

  • Parent(s) may petition the court for permission to relinquish custody forever including all parental the rights and duties with respect to the child younger than 18 years of age when:
    • The child has been in the agency’s care for 3 days or
    • The agency has received written notice of the intent to transfer custody of the child executed by the parent
    • The child has been in the exclusive care for at least 3 days of an adult who has filed a report of intent to adopt.
  • When a parent files a petition to relinquish parental rights, the Pennsylvania court shall hold a hearing to enter a decree of termination of parental rights within 10 days. In some cases, the court may also hold a hearing to confirm consent to adoption.

The adoption process and consent requirements are not the same for every situation. Families considering adoption should consult with a family law attorney experienced in adoption cases.  An experienced adoption lawyer can help ease the adoption process and make the transition smoother for all parties—including the child. Let an adoption lawyer focus on the legal process, while you focus on your family.

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