You may have found yourself researching adoption in PA as a pregnant woman, wondering what your options are and how the process works in your state. This is a good place to start. Expectant parents living in the Commonwealth of PA, may feel like there is so much information out there and are trying to find as much information as possible so you can make the best choice for you and your baby. Reading articles like this one will give you more of the information you are seeking as you decide on the next steps to take regarding adoption in PA. Doing the right research and getting as much information as you can on adoption in PA will equip you as you move forward on this journey.
A good first step in gaining more information on adoption in PA is to read through Adoption.com’s resource guide on adoption in PA. Adoption.com offers very helpful guides for expectant and hopeful adoptive parents in each state. The resource guide on adoption in PA will help you get various answers to some of your questions, offer information on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s adoption centers, summarize laws for the state, help you find adoption attorneys located in PA, and provide other adoption regulations and stats.
Who is Able to Complete an Adoption in PA?
Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states regarding who can adopt a child. Adoption in PA is generally open and does not prohibit any adult from adopting a child if they pass a home study, but more on that to come. They may live in any state and adopt a baby from PA, and there aren’t any requirements for adoptive parents to reside in the state for any amount of time before they complete the adoption.
Once an individual, couple, or family decides they would like to complete an adoption in PA, they must complete a home study. What is a home study? A home study is a comprehensive report on all aspects of the adoptive couple, family, and their home. The home study report will include background checks on all adults in the home and an FBI background check with fingerprints. The home study report will be completed by a social worker licensed within the prospective adoptive parent’s state of residence. The social worker may be from their adoption agency or another agency in their state. He or she will visit the home and ensure it is safe for the child, there is adequate space, and it is childproofed. They will also interview the prospective adoptive parents, get letters of recommendation from their house of worship, their children’s teachers (if applicable), neighbors, and friends. Children over a certain age in the home may also be interviewed by the social worker. This information will be included in the report with the parents’ financials, driving records, employment history, letters of recommendation, medical exams, and medical history.
Adoption Agencies in PA
After beginning your research on adoption in PA, the next step is to start researching Adoption Agencies in PA. Adoption.com has a great directory of all PA adoption agencies. You can also search by other states. Adoption agencies located in PA are a helpful start as you will want to read through each of those agencies and see which ones you would like to interview to learn more about your options for placing your baby for adoption. As a former adoption professional, many people would ask me what makes a great adoption agency and there are various things that are critical—including whether they are ethical and they treat both the birth parents and prospective adoptive parents with the same level of respect, education, and love.
Once you go through that list of adoption agencies, you may wonder what to ask them once you call or email. This article, “22 Questions to Ask An Adoption Agency before Choosing”, is a very helpful guide on the types of questions that will be helpful for you as you interview and decide on what agency you would like to use. You also may conduct the interview process with some or all of the questions you compiled and realize that through this questioning process you do not want to complete an adoption and that is fully your decision to make. No adoption center or person working for an adoption agency should ever make you feel any pressure to place your baby for adoption. If an agency makes you feel that way, there are plenty of other great agencies with whom you can work. Do your research, ask the questions most important to you, and trust your gut. Know you can change your agency or mind at any time, and just take it one step at a time in deciding on adoption in PA.
Adoption Attorneys in PA
As a birth parent, you may have also heard of the option to have an adoption attorney help you with your adoption plan. Some birth mothers and/or birth fathers decide to work with an adoption attorney rather than working with an adoption center as their adoption service provider (which is another term for an adoption agency, adoption social worker, or adoption attorney) when they have found a prospective adoptive couple and both members of the triad (birth parent, child, adoptive family) do not have an adoption agency with whom they are already working. You may be wondering about what situation this would happen in. Sometimes birth mothers will find a hopeful adoptive couple through church, friends, social media, or through online adoption photolistings. Adoption.com has a wonderful article outlining the various similarities and differences in using an adoption center or an adoption attorney.
Once you find an adoptive couple for your baby, and it is not through the adoption agency process, you will need an adoption attorney to help with your adoption in PA, especially if they are not already using an adoption center in PA. This is really true at the state of the adoption in PA after you have connected with a hopeful adoptive couple. This seems like the one place you can use an attorney in PA you may already know or someone you trust knows. However, very few lawyers specialize in adoption in PA laws and regulations. The issues for birth parents who do this come when their general law lawyer does not understand the laws around adoption in PA. Adoption in PA attorneys barred in the Commonwealth, which means they passed the bar exam in PA and can practice law in the Commonwealth. They also will have an understanding of US adoption law, which is helpful if the adoptive parents are from another state.
How to Choose an Adoption Service Provider in PA
Many adoption centers or agencies in PA that focus on private infant adoption (which is the type of adoption you would be pursuing if you decided to create an adoption plan for your baby), and especially those who facilitate the adoption for the birth mother, will offer a collection of support services for all members of the adoption triad. The adoption triad is a term for all of the members in the adoption—the expectant parents, the baby, and the hopeful adoptive family.
Adoption agencies and adoption attorneys will offer different services for each member of the adoption triad, but every adoption service provider must abide by the laws and regulations within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Adoption service providers will help you determine what requirements pertain to you and the prospective adoptive parents, help you meet each of the laws for adoption in PA, and help you with all of the necessary paperwork. You work with a professional adoption service provider licensed in PA to help you navigate this part of your journey to adoption in PA.
Choosing an adoption service provider to complete your adoption in PA is important and choosing an ethical professional is most important. Follow your heart and trust your gut when making decisions. Research agencies on Adoption.com are helpful, but so is asking for recommendations from those who have completed an adoption in PA. Exploring Adoption.com forums is a great way to learn more about birth mother experiences with various adoption agencies in PA and will help you learn about firsthand experiences before making your decision.
Next Steps of Adoption in PA as a Birth Mother
Most adoption agencies in PA will not just work with birth mothers, but they will also work with hopeful adoptive couples who want to adopt a child. Your adoption agency will likely have profiles and photo albums on hopeful adoptive families with whom they are also working. The adoption agency can connect you with various couples or families directly for a meeting so you can make a personal decision on your baby’s adoptive family.
After you have met one or a few sets of prospective adoptive parents with whom you would like to connect, your adoption service provider will help coordinate the first meeting with the family. The social worker will work with you as you take each step in choosing the best family for your baby. The adoption agency is there to make sure your adoption in PA is stress-free and fully explained to you each step of the journey.
Many birth mothers wonder at some point in their adoption in PA process, how will I afford to carry my baby to birth and place them for adoption? Your adoption service provider will help you understand what birth mother expenses will be covered by your baby’s adoptive family. Pennsylvania law does prohibit prospective adoptive parents from paying any living expenses. The law is set up to ensure that, as a birth mother, the adoption will not cost you anything. You can have all of your medical bills paid for during the pregnancy and postpartum, and the prospective adoptive parents pay all agency or legal costs as well.
Birth Plan for Adoption in PA
When you as the birth mother are in labor, you or your adoption service provider will let your baby’s adoptive family know. You may choose whether to have the adoptive parents in the labor room or not. This is up to you. You may also take as much time as you want and need privately with your baby after birth and before the adoptive parents meet your baby.
After your baby has arrived, you will have time before you need to complete any adoption in PA paperwork finalizing the adoption. You can have as much time as you need with your baby alone after their birth. There is no right or wrong decision on how much time you want with your baby; this is entirely your decision.
According to adoption in Pennsylvania law, the waiting period before adoption consent can be executed is 72 hours after the birth of your baby. You will have those days to ensure this is the decision you want to make. Birth fathers are able to execute adoption consent at any time both before or after your baby’s birth.
Once you place your baby for adoption in PA and sign the relinquishment paperwork, you may have decided on an open adoption. If you did, you may begin to communicate with the adoptive family. Your open adoption is uniquely decided upon by you and the adoptive family before your baby is born with the help of your adoption service provider. You may have decided to just get photos at milestones or an email once a year. Other birth mothers visit and call regularly and play a role in their baby’s life. This decision is yours in conjunction with the adoptive family when you go through the paperwork before the baby is born.
Some birth mothers want a semi-open adoption. A semi-open adoption is when a birth parent only wants to receive communication maybe once a year or a photo album at milestones without open and regular communication.
The other option of adoption in PA is a closed adoption. Regarding closed adoption in PA, a law was passed in 2017 that allows those who have been adopted to access their birth certificate and adoption records. If you are contemplating a closed adoption, to address privacy concerns, this PA law allows birth parents to redact names from birth certificates before the documents are given to those who have been adopted who are over 18. Birth parents can also fill out a contact form stating your preference regarding whether you wish to be contacted at any point in your child’s life and how. You can also decide to have a third party be contacted by your child instead of you. All birth parents in PA are asked to complete a medical history form, regardless of whether you wish to be contacted or not in a closed adoption.
After you have completed your adoption in PA and placed your baby with their adoptive parents, you will likely feel many different emotions. All emotions, including no deep emotions, is okay. Reaching out to loved ones is so critical to your self-care during this time. Your counselor, loved ones, family, adoption social worker, and others you lean on for support are there for you—lean on them. Self-care is so important. Above all else, as you begin this adoption in PA journey, conducting research, speaking with a social worker, finding an adoption attorney, consulting adoption service providers on information on adoption in PA, and understanding the process of how adoption in PA works will help you on the journey to making the best decision for you and your baby.
If you would like to speak confidentially with an adoption professional about your pregnancy options, click here.