Starting the adoption process begins with understanding the requirements to adopt. So, what are the requirements to adopt in Pennsylvania?
Adoption requirements in Pennsylvania include being 21 years of age or older. One may be married, single, or divorced, and a home study and in-home inspection will be conducted. Proper housing and personal space for the adopted child are required, as well as a background check for all adults in the home.
The above are just a few of the requirements when adopted in the state of Pennsylvania. Read on for more in-depth detail on what is required.
Starting the adoption process in Pennsylvania begins with making the decision to adopt, understanding your options, and selecting your chosen adoption liaison to help you.
You must meet the requirements, which most often mandate a background check as well as attending adoption classes.
You may also want to take a look at the names and contact information for adoption agencies in your area.
Families wanting to adopt in the state of Pennsylvania will want to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Human Resources for more information:
- Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN)
- Phone: 800-585-7926
This article offers an extensive look into the basic aspects of adopting a child in the state of Pennsylvania. For those still exploring their options, fostering a child in Pennsylvania is another way to adopt a child that is not nearly as expensive as a traditional adoption. We will walk you through each step and what to expect.
Assuming you have already decided you want to adopt, now it is time to get that ball rolling! Are you excited? So are we! Adoption is what we are all about, and we would love to help you on your journey.
The adoption process involves many things to consider. Read on to learn more about the adoption process in Pennsylvania, as well as some things to consider along the way.
If by chance it’s a stepchild you wish to adopt, you will want to read our article about adopting your stepchild in Pennsylvania. The process for adopting a stepchild is much less complicated than traditional adoption.
Adoption Requirements in Pennsylvania
The requirements to adopt a child vary by state. We have listed a few of the requirements to adopt in Pennsylvania below. For a full list of requirements, you will want to contact the state of Pennsylvania directly.
- 21 years of age or older
- May rent or own
- May be married or single
- Must pass a home study
- A safety check of your home will be required
- References of non-family individuals
- Must participate in training
- Adequate space for a child
- Must be healthy enough for a child
- Thorough background check
While considering your family options, you may want to consider surrogacy and the costs associated with the surrogacy process. Surrogacy isn’t for everyone, but it’s nice to be familiar with your options.
Perhaps you have been unsuccessful with fertility treatments and cannot conceive naturally. Maybe you have an already-established family with biological children, yet you wish to extend your family.
Or perhaps there are stepchildren involved that you wish to adopt as your own. Regardless of the reason you decide to adopt, there are so many things to consider.
Today, many single parents choose to adopt without a partner. Let’s face it; there are times when we have not met that perfect match, yet our biological clock is still ticking.
Or perhaps you prefer flying solo and do not feel you need a partner to raise a happy, healthy child. In today’s world, it is perfectly acceptable to adopt a child without a partner. How do you feel about adopting a child as a single parent?
Have you discussed your decision with your extended family? Are they just as excited as you, or are they a bit apprehensive about you adopting by yourself?
Making peace with your decision will help you focus on your journey toward adopting your child.
One of the most difficult things to deal with is sharing your excitement with your extended family, only to be met with mixed responses that are not as favorable as you would have hoped.
Remember though, that you have had much more time to reach your decision to adopt. Unless you have shared your day-to-day adoption ventures with your extended family, they may need some time to digest your adoption decision.
Of course, you can go through the adoption process without family support, but having their support does offer much comfort during this exciting yet sometimes stressful time.
Going through the adoption process and fulfilling the requirements is easier with family by your side.
When sharing your adoption decision with your extended family, be mindful that it might take some time for them to get on board with your decision. Maybe they secretly had hoped to extend their bloodline. Perhaps they are concerned about the race and ethnicity of the child you adopt.
They could be wondering about possible behavioral, emotional, and physical issues that can sometimes come with a child from a previously broken, unstable home.
The most important thing you can do when sharing your decision to start the adoption process is to listen and validate their feelings. Give them some time to let the adoption news sink in. If telling your extended family in person makes you uncomfortable, one option could be to write a handwritten letter and mail it to them.
This is a much more personal touch over and above what can be a cold-feeling email. This allows them to internalize your news, talk amongst themselves, and then circle back around to you after the news has registered.
Child Adoption Options
One may choose to adopt either domestically, internationally, or through the foster care system. You will want to consider your options and decide the route you wish to take.
I thought, however, that you might find it helpful if we covered a few of the differences between these options below.
Just as domestic adoption implies, your child will be US-born.
If you are holding out for a newborn, then you will want to follow the domestic adoption route. Although it is not impossible to adopt a newborn by other means, it is more unlikely.
Domestic adoptions can be completed within a few months.
You are apt to receive a more substantial medical and social history of the child you wish to adopt as compared to adopting internationally when medical history may not be known.
Most birthmothers will know your first names, and many will have spoken to you on the phone or met you in person before the birth.
This helps them get to know you, which builds trust and confidence in choosing you as the adoptive parent for their unborn baby.
Whether you choose to adopt domestically or internationally, neither are more-or-less expensive than the other. Rough estimates are provided in this article, but those numbers vary widely and do not imply what it will cost you to adopt a child.
There is no waiting list. You instead will put together a personal profile for the birthmothers to review, and they will determine who will adopt their baby.
Your profile is a visual and written introduction that gives the birthmother a sneak peek into who you are as a family, so she can then have an idea of what it will be like for her unborn child.
If you look young and have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to be chosen by a birthmother.
As implied, your adopted child will be Internationally born.
Choosing an international adoption means adopting an older child, but as young as an infant or toddler is possible.
You will rarely receive a family medical history when adopting from another country. Although, you would receive medical information for the child.
There is a perceived advantage of being very far removed from the birthparents distance-wise. It is natural to have a secret fear that someday the birth parents and your adopted child will reunite.
Although not impossible, this is more unlikely when adopting internationally.
Whether you choose domestic or international, neither are more-or-less expensive than the other. When adopting internationally, the cost of travel is likely to significantly add to the overall costs.
Internationally, the costs of adoption can vary based on which country you adopt from.
You will be put on a traditional waiting list, which is very different when adopting a child domestically.
There are age limitations in some countries, which may make you ineligible from being able to adopt.
Other factors such as how many times you have been divorced, as well as how long you have been married could affect your chances for international adoption eligibility.
Foster Care Adoption
There are over 100,000 children in the foster care system desperately in need of a forever home.
Your chances of adopting a newborn drop significantly when adopting through the foster care system, although it is not unheard of.
Foster care provides a safe refuge for children who have been removed from their biological family home due to some sort of trauma they have experienced.
The State in which they reside puts the children in temporary custody, while the biological parents complete individualized requirements to earn back custody of their children.
The ages of foster children available for adoption are between infancy and 21 years of age.
The Fostering Connections Act allows states the option to continue providing care for a child up to the age of 21 if they are attending school, working at least 80 hours per month, or suffering a medical hardship.
A bit more than half of all foster children are returned to their biological parents. The children remaining in the foster care system are many times adopted by their relatives or their foster family.
Foster care adoption is similar to other types of adoption concerning paperwork, requirement obligations, etc.
Due to the trauma that all foster care children have been rescued from, it is important to be prepared for and understand the healing process that will follow.
Continued counseling as well as working on personal issues is to be expected.
The cost of foster care adoption is very minimal, if not zero out-of-pocket. This is another incentive for many adoptive parents to strongly consider adoption through the foster care system.
Those wanting to adopt from the foster care system are strongly encouraged to first become foster parents.
This is a wonderful way to access the compatibility between yourself and the child you are considering for adoption.
How to Choose an Adoption Agency
If you have decided to adopt within the US, you will want to become familiar with the differences between local state adoption agencies and national adoption agencies.
With so many things to consider, it is natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by the entire adoption process. It will all be worth it, though!
National Adoption Agency
A national adoption agency represents all 50 states with offices all over the country and tends to be very large.
Adoption costs tend to be more expensive due to the overhead of having employees spread out all over the US, which differs from local state agencies with fewer employees.
You may be asked to satisfy more requirements due to other state adoption laws. It all depends on the state in which you are adopting in.
There is naturally a larger selection of children to choose from with a national agency, as well as shorter wait times.
Local Adoption Agency
Local adoption agencies are smaller than national agencies, as they specialize in just one particular state.
Many local agencies can still assist in finding children from all across the US and are not necessarily limited to selecting a child only from within their state.
These agencies are less expensive than national agencies, as their employee base is smaller.
You are apt to receive more personalized, face-to-face attention than you would a national agency.
Local agencies are overseen by the state, which in turn means they have more accountability than other types of adoption agencies.
Adoption facilitators are independent businesses specializing in matching adoptive parents with birth parents. They are basically like a liaison between the two parties involved.
These facilitators are not licensed adoption agencies.
Facilitators arrange contact between the birth parent and the prospective adoptive parent.
They are prohibited from using a photo listing to advertise children for placement.
Adoption Law Center
Attorney-owned corporations run similarly to adoption agencies.
They typically have large budgets that offer resources in helping birth mothers across the US.
Your adoption wait times can many times be less lengthy compared to other adoption agencies.
Adoption centers tend to offer less support in that they do not have a social service resource. Although they are strong in the legalities of the adoption process, they fall short of social support such as counseling and emotional readiness dialogs.
Racial and Ethnic Distribution of Adopted Kindergartners: US, 2011 Courtesy of ifstudies.org
|American Indian/Alaskan Native||1%|
Adoption Wait Times
For the future adopter, the wait can be the hardest part of the entire adoption process. There are some things you can do to distract yourself during this waiting process.
Maintaining a positive attitude is by far the best advice I can offer you. Overthinking during this time of wait can cause future adoptive parents to exacerbate their fears and doubts, creating a vicious cycle of worry.
Constantly thinking about adopting a child can be referred to as adoption obsession. This is very typical of an adoptive parent that has never adopted a child before. With that said, it is not unheard of for adoptive parents who are not new to the process to suffer this same obsession.
Although putting a lot of time and thought into your adoption process venture is healthy and will help you become more educated, you do not want this obsession to get out of control!
You may find it helpful to reach out to other adoptive parents who have experienced the same things that you are going through to share your thoughts, concerns, and excitement.
What a wonderful way to get first-hand input that may hopefully help you along your adoption journey. Find others who have had feelings and experiences similar to your own to talk with.
This is especially important if you have decided to adopt as a single parent. There is value in having others to talk to that have gone through or are going through the same experiences.
We do not need a partner by our side to raise a happy, healthy child; but a human connection with others you can relate to can be a valuable experience!
Although the internet is full of amazing adoption resources, I recommend not overlooking the value of curling up with a good book about parenting and adoption.
Just be careful, as some authors have their own opinions about adoption and might not share your mindset. Read the online reviews before you decide which books would likely be a good fit for you.
Amazon can be a wonderful resource for both eBooks as well as old-fashioned hardcopy.
This may also be a good time to keep that line of communication open with your partner if you will be co-parenting an adopted child. Be mindful of each other’s concerns, fears, and make sure to validate your partner’s thoughts by simply being a good listener and void of judgment.
The wait time can be difficult for both of you, and sharing your thoughts rather than bottling them up will help with healthy communication.
The average cost to adopt a child in the US is $41,532 – Courtesy of Adoptive Families.
|Home Study Fee||$2,345|
|Document Preparation & Authentication||$802|
|Adoption Agency Application & Program Fees||$16,920|
|Adoption Consultant Fees||$2,853|
|Advertising & Networking||$2,271|
|Birth Family Counseling||$783|
|Birth Mother Expenses||$4,353|
|All Other Expenses||$2,900|
* Average represents total costs before claiming the Adoption Tax Credit. *
Why Does Adoption Take So Long?
Congratulations! It is finally time to finalize your adoption, and you are getting so much closer to that finish line. Soon, you will officially be awarded permanent, legal custody of the child you have wanted for so long. Below, we will discuss the process of finalizing and adoption.
Why, though, does adoption take so long? There are so many adoption processes and requirements that need to be met before adoption can be finalized.
Birth Parent’s Rights are terminated: The legal termination of both birth parents must happen before the adoption can proceed to the next step and is done in court by a judge. Once this has been done, the process can continue.
ICPC Clearance: ICPS (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) mandates must be adhered to if a child is crossing a state line into another state.
The ICPS agency helps to ensure the adoption has followed all legal processes, and that the child will be placed in a safe environment.
ICWA Clearance: ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) is a federal law on behalf of the Native American Indian tribes and families to help preserve tribe recognition for the adopted Native American child.
Post-Placement Visits: Post-placement contact and visits vary between states, but typically involve two to six in-home visits after the adoption placement.
These visits are most often done by the social worker that you have already become familiar with during your previous home study classes and are done to ensure the child is adjusting to his or her new family.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the adjustment period is going, it is important to share those concerns with your social worker so he or she may help you with your concerns.
The Hearing to Finalize the Adoption: This is where it gets to the best part! You are about to head into a court hearing to change your and your adopted child’s life forever.
You will, however, need to wait another three months to one year after placement for this epic day. Your adoption liaison will advise you of the date on which this finalization hearing takes place.
Many adopting parents invite their friends and family to the finalization hearing, as this is a special day for everyone. These hearings are generally about 30 to 60 minutes in length.
US Newborn (Agency) – Average Time to Be Matched – Courtesy of Adoptive Families.
|0-6 Months||43 %|
|3 Years or Longer||7%|
Adjusting to Adoption
Do not be surprised if the post-placement time is a bit more difficult than you hoped it would be. Feeling this way is normal. It is common to have a fairytale idea in your mind of how post-placement life will be, and for most, adjusting to the change can be a challenge.
Change, in general, is not always easy. After some time, however, you will get into your new routine.
The “post-adoption” period can be stressful. Any type of change, whether it be a new job, a new spouse, or a new move, can require a time of adjustment. Not only have you adopted a child, but now your identity has changed.
You and your partner will need to be patient as you adjust to your new roles as parents. The amount of free time that you once had has changed drastically. Your identity has changed, and you are now a parent to a child who needs you.
Some adoptive parents experience what is known as post-adoptive depression. This is more commonly seen in birth mothers who experience postpartum depression after the birth of their babies. However, this depression is not limited to only a birth mother.
Some may feel they are mourning the life that they knew that is now gone. Are you used to sleeping in or sleeping through the night? Perhaps you enjoyed the luxury of a hobby or lifestyle that included the freedom to come and go at the drop of a hat.
It is important to communicate your feelings and know they are normal for many new parents. Reaching out to a support group of others who have experienced what you are experiencing can do wonders to help you feel validated.
They can offer tips on how they got through that tough time. Feeling depressed will pass, but you have to talk to someone and share what you are going through. Thinking that you can just deal with it on your own can backfire, and you do not want that to happen.
Reaching out to the social worker that has guided you through your journey is recommended. They can be a wonderful resource for you during this time.
I hope that this article has given you some insight into starting the adoption process in Pennsylvania. Adoption and fostering are very dear to my heart, as I was a child put into the foster care system at the age of fifteen.
That was a few decades ago, but I have seen firsthand both sides of the aisle. I have dedicated my life to helping be a light for others as they go through the process of opening up their hearts and homes to a child in need.
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.