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Pennsylvania Adoption Laws

Adoption laws historically have varied from state to state, but are becoming more uniform. Pennsylvania adoption laws allow any child and only certain adults to be adopted, while any unmarried adult, unmarried minor parent of adoptee, or married couple may adopt. Additionally, the adoption of Pennsylvania children age 12 and older requires the child's consent to the adoption.

The following table lists the basics provisions of Pennsylvania's adoption laws and you can learn more in the background information that follows or see FindLaw's Adoption section.

Code Section Tit. 23 §§2101 to 2910; No
Who May Be Adopted Any person
Age that Child's Consent Needed 12 years and older
Who May Adopt Any person
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? Not required, but may do temporary placement
State Agency/Court Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange (PACE) in Dept. of Public Welfare/Common Pleas
Statute of Limitations to Challenge Not specified

Who may adopt?

Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states on who may adopt. Pennsylvania adoption is generally open, and does not prohibit any adult from adopting. As well, in certain circumstances, minors may adopt as well. This is most common when they adopt a younger sibling.

If a married couple wants to adopt, both spouses will have to adopt, unless one spouse gives the other consent to adopt alone. Generally, unmarried couples cannot adopt in Pennsylvania, but there may be exceptions.

Who may be adopted in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania's adoption laws do not restrict who may or may not be adopted. This means that adults can be adopted too.

Whose consent is needed for adoption?

Generally, the birth parents must consent to an adoption. However, there are many circumstances that may remove a child from a home, and make that child available for adoption without the birth parents' consent. As well, consent is required from any adult who is adopted, and any child age 12 or older.

What is the residency requirement for adoption in Pennsylvania?

Many states require a period of residency before adopting in that state. However, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not have a residency requirement. Pennsylvania courts and adoption agencies still have the right to require a temporary placement before the adoption is finalized, though.

Open vs. Closed Adoptions

Birth parents and adopting parents may be concerned about an adopted child's rights to get in contact with their birth parents. If the birth parents agree to the contact, the adoption is known as an open adoption. How old the child has to be before contact, and the method of contact allowed may change from case to case. If the birth parents do not consent to the contact, it is called a closed adoption. In this circumstance, some records may be maintained for medical reasons, and to track potential genetic disorders.

If you would like to know more about Pennsylvania's adoption laws, and the rights of both the adopting parents and the birth parents, there are many lawyers throughout Pennsylvania with adoption law experience who may be able to help.

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