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How Do I Adopt In Pennsylvania?

Last updated on November 22, 2023

The adoption process in Pennsylvania is quite difficult. As a result, it is important that you have lawyers who know the law, understand the process and can be there for you every step of the way. Our Central Pennsylvania adoption lawyers have handled private, domestic, intrastate, interstate, stepparent and same-sex adoptions.

Contact us today for help. You focus on the joy while we focus on the law. We have conveniently located offices in York, Shrewsbury and Mount Wolf.

Step One: Termination Of Parental Rights

The rights of the birth parents must be terminated by voluntary or involuntary relinquishment. For voluntary termination, the birth father may sign a consent form at any point, including prior to birth. The birth mother cannot complete the consent form until at least 72 hours after the birth of the child. Both birth parents have 30 days to revoke consent. The time varies based on when the consent form was signed or the child was born.

Involuntary termination is possible under a variety of circumstances. If a father has been identified by the mother and refuses to consent, if he does not file a claim or acknowledgment of paternity, his rights may be terminated at a hearing. Involuntary termination is also possible for rape, for abandonment or through a termination hearing.

Step Two: Adoption Of The Child By The Prospective Parent(s)

Any individual who meets the requirements may become an adopting parent. The process will vary based on the type and complexity of the adoption. In cases where the birth parent is deceased or voluntarily terminates her rights, the process is much simpler than in cases where involuntary termination is necessary.

The Petition

The petition for adoption is the document that the adoptive parent(s) complete(s) when moving forward. This document must include ChildLine abuse and state police clearances as well as any additional required clearances. The birth certificate, marriage license (stepparent), INS designations (foreign children) and other documents may be required as well. When you retain us, we will make certain that all appropriate documents are obtained and included as exhibits in your petition. In addition, some procedures such as a home visit may be required. Our qualified attorneys will assist you to address all formalities necessary to complete the process.

What Types Of Adoptions Are There?

In addition to circumstances where both biological parents gave up their rights to their child, there are times when only one biological parent will give up his or her rights.


If one parent is remarrying and wishes for the new spouse to adopt his or her child, the other parent must be willing or is required to terminate his or her rights. Then the new spouse can step in to complete the adoption.

Same Sex

Pennsylvania allows for same-sex or second-parent adoptions. The nonbiological parent can adopt once the appropriate termination of rights by the nonpartner biological parent is completed. Normally the termination of rights in such cases will be voluntary.

Can I Change The Name Of My Adopted Child?

Frequently, the new parent(s) will want to change the last name of the child. In order to obtain a name change, a judicial change of name is required. Normally, these name changes are granted as a matter of course, but judges have a great deal of discretion in terms of whether he or she wishes to grant the change. Read more about name changes here.

Who Can Help Me With Adoption?

The steps involved in completing an adoption are time-consuming and contain numerous minefields. As a result, it is important that you have a law firm by your side to make certain you understand and meet all of the requirements. In addition, you want a firm that appreciates the emotional difficulty of the process you will be undertaking. The attorneys at Hoffmeyer & Semmelman will support you through both the legal and emotional issues surrounding an adoption. Our adoption attorneys have helped many people grow their families and can advise you throughout this difficult but exciting process.

Contact us today at 717-846-8846.