From babies to teenagers, the addition of any child is a joyful celebration for families.
The two sides of adoption are both celebrations of love: a growing family and caring for a child’s needs. At Lengert Law we celebrate both sides of adoption, whether you are seeking to make a child legally a member of your family or seeking a family that can provide a loving home for your child.
Adoption is available to many in Pennsylvania, whether or not you are related to the child. At Lengert Law we work with step-parents, grandparents, and third parties. Even though each types has different considerations, they all have some basic similarities.
You Don’t Have to be Related to Adopt in Pennsylvania
Adoption by third parties represents the traditional view of adoption, where persons unrelated to the child are the adoptive parents. Third parties may be either a couple or an individual: the important consideration is the relationship between the third parties and the child. The relationship may be arranged through an agency, the birth parent, or a friend. A home study will be required as part of the process to assure the court that the adoptive home is safe and the child is integrated into the family.
Grandparents Rights – Sometimes Older can be Better
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren are an ever-increasing group in our society. In the past, many grandparents raised their grandchildren with an informal custody arrangement, but due to a desire to provide children with stability and security, financial considerations, and travel freedom, many are now seeking legal adoption.
A question that often arises is whether the grandparents are providing parental care for the child prior to the adoption, a situation referred to as in loco parentis. In the right circumstances, grandparents can adopt or obtain custody rights.
Step-Parent Adoptions – Marriage Includes Children
A step-parent adoption reminds us that children are part of the marriage too! Step-parent adoptions do not require home studies, making them an available step for many new families. A step-parent adoption provides full legal rights between the step-parent and child and may incorporate a name change so that all family members share the same name.
Birth Parents are Part of the Adoption Process
With each type of adoption, the birth parents play a key role. Prior to adopting a child, the Parental Rights of the Birth Parents will need to be reviewed and possibly terminated. If the birth parents are considering adoption to provide a secure and caring home, the adoption will proceed with a Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights. If the circumstances of birth parents are detrimental to the well-being of the child, an Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights may be required.
Relationships Matter for Success
Regardless of the type of adoption or the age of the child, the relationship between the child and the adoptive parents is a key factor for a successful adoption. The goal is to ensure that the child is comfortable with the adoptive parent as a parent, not as an outsider.
Like in any relationship, this bond is formed over a period of time by the adoptive parent’s assumption of the responsibilities of raising a child. This relationship may be formed with the cooperation of the Birth Parent, especially in cases where an Open Adoption is being considered.
Open Adoptions in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania now recognizes Open Adoptions, which is a significant change from the historical understanding of adoption. In an Open Adoption, there is a continuing relationship with the Birth Parent and the Child formalized by a written understanding between the Adoptive Parents and the Birth Parents. The terms of an Open Adoption can be as simple as the sending of pictures or as significant as shared activities, including vacations. The important understanding in an Open Adoption is that it is based on an Agreement between the Adoptive Parents and the Birth Parents.
Our Focus is on Your Family
No matter which side of an adoption you are coming from, or what type of adoption you are considering, Kim Lengert can help you through the process to ensure that every child has a family. Reach out to us today so we can help.