We Help You Expand Your Family Via Adoption
At the Law Office of Nikolas D. Capitano, we support families from Reading and Southeastern Pennsylvania who choose to adopt a child. The legal process is complex and greatly benefits from accurate legal counsel at every step. From educating you on your various adoption options to assisting you in filling out mandatory paperwork to representing you during court hearings, attorney Capitano offers comprehensive adoption legal services.
Types of adoption available to hopeful parents in Pennsylvania include:
- Private adoptions
- State agency adoptions
- Adoptions from foster care
- International adoptions
- Step-parent adoptions
- Grandparent adoptions
- Adult child adoptions
As an experienced family law attorney, Nikolas D. Capitano understands how each situation is unique and requires compassion and dedication to help you reach your goals. We are available to address any questions or concerns you may have at any step of the adoption process.
What Are the Requirements to Adopt a Child in Pennsylvania?
You do not have to be married to adopt a child in Pennsylvania and adoption is open to heterosexual and LGBT+ individuals and couples. The adoption process will involve a review of your physical, mental, and emotional health to ensure you are capable of appropriately caring for a child. Similarly, you need to prove that your finances are stable enough to expand your family.
Pennsylvania family law does not have many requirements for future adoptive parents. However, a specific type of adoption can mandate certain specifics. For example, you must be at least 21 years old to adopt or foster through a state foster care agency. Private agencies and other countries can have additional restrictions on what type of prospective parents they are willing to consider.
If you are looking to adopt your step-child in Pennsylvania, the non-custodial biological parent must either consent to the adoption or have the court terminate their parental rights.
The Adoption Process in Berks County and Southeastern PA
Once you decide on what type of adoption you want to pursue and meet the eligibility criteria, you usually need to start by filling out application forms with information about your family, household, finances, and lifestyle.
With state adoption agencies, the next step involves a family profile and home study. The social worker assigned to your case interview you and the other members of your household, and carefully inspect your home. Once you complete this process, the agency matches you with a child within a few weeks. You first meet the child during pre-placement visits that allow the social worker to monitor your interactions.
The agency then places the child with you. Pennsylvania law requires the filing of a Report of Intention to Adopt within 30 days of placement. As the adoptive parent(s), you must include a statement with this form. If the biological parents’ parental rights are already terminated, you may file a Petition for Adoption. If the process is still ongoing, you must wait until it is done before filing this petition.
The placement, including regular monitoring from social services, lasts for at least six months before you can attend a family court hearing to finalize your adoption.
The adoption hearing includes:
- Testimony from the social worker who oversaw your case
- Testimony from the child if they are over the age of 12
Once the judge agrees to your petition, they issue an adoption decree and a certificate of adoption. The child can receive a new birth certificate that lists the adoptive parents on it.
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