How Do You Adopt a Baby in Pennsylvania?

October 18, 2016
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Adopting a baby is so much more than a legal process. It is a journey to one of life’s most precious gifts: family.

The attorneys at Bierly & Rabuck know this well because our own families have been touched by adoption. We understand the needs, desires and concerns of our clients and take a personal, child-focused approach to every adoption we have the privilege of being a part of.

From start to finish, we provide all of the legal services you need to adopt a baby in Pennsylvania, including:

–  explaining the newborn adoption process, your rights, and the rights of the birth parents.

– outlining your options to find a prospective birth mother, independently or through an agency.

– preparing legal documents to be filed with the court.

– appearing in court on your behalf to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents.

– helping you navigate insurance coverage for your baby.

– arranging and accompanying you and your child to your finalization hearing.

– obtaining a new birth certificate for your child after finalization.

– providing the general case management and oversight you need through each step of the process.

– referring you to trusted professionals for additional services as needed.

– and more.

Over the past 20 years, we have handled hundreds of adoptions — but we still provide each individual client with the personal care, attention, information and support they need to make the process as smooth as possible. Here, learn how to adopt a baby with Bierly & Rabuck.

Pennsylvania Infant Adoption With or Without an Agency

Families interested in adopting a newborn typically pursue domestic adoption, in which a birth mother voluntarily places her baby for adoption with the family of her choice.

In domestic adoption, parents often have the opportunity to develop a relationship with their child’s birth mother during her pregnancy and meet their child for the first time at the hospital when he or she is born. This is the only type of adoption that promises hopeful parents that they will be able to adopt a newborn baby.

There are two types of domestic infant adoption:

– Agency Adoption: In an agency adoption, the adoptive family typically works with an adoption agency to find an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother. When the baby is born, the adoptive parents receive physical custody of the baby and can take him or her home from the hospital, but the adoption agency maintains legal custody of the child until the adoption is finalized.

– Private Adoption: Private adoption, sometimes also called independent adoption, refers to an adoption that is completed without an agency’s services. In these adoptions, the birth mother signs legal documents allowing the direct transfer of physical and legal custody to the adoptive family, without agency involvement.

Whether or not you use an agency’s services to adopt a child, an experienced attorney is required in every case to provide the necessary legal adoption services.

Bierly & Rabuck can provide all of the legal services and guidance you need to adopt an infant independently or with an agency. Additionally, if you choose to pursue private adoption, we can advise you through each step of the process and provide referrals to top professionals for other necessary services, such as professional counseling.

How to Adopt a Newborn in Pennsylvania

From your first phone call through the finalization of your adoption and beyond, Bierly & Rabuck can provide legal services and guidance you need to ensure each step of the infant adoption process is completed legally and ethically. Here’s how to adopt an infant in Pennsylvania:

– Complete a home study. Before adopting a baby in Pennsylvania, every family needs to have an approved adoption home study that meets certain state requirements. Bierly & Rabuck can refer you to a licensed home study provider for these services.

– Find a birth mother to adopt from. If you haven’t already found an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother, Bierly & Rabuck can advise you about independent adoption advertising or refer you to an adoption agency for matching services.

– Get to know the expectant mother. When a prospective birth mother chooses you to adopt her baby, you may have an opportunity to get to know her with pre-placement contact. Depending on the type of relationship she wants to have with you, your contact may be mediated or you may communicate directly during her pregnancy.

– Receive placement of the baby. When the baby is born, you will travel to the hospital according to the birth mother’s hospital plan. At least 72 hours after the baby is born, the birth mother can legally consent to the adoption, and you will be able to leave the hospital with your baby. However, if you are adopting across state lines, you will need to stay in Pennsylvania until Bierly & Rabuck notifies you that you have received ICPC approval to return home.

– Satisfy post-placement requirements. After placement, you will need to complete the post-placement study before finalization. For an agency adoption, this study includes three post-placement visits over a six-month period. One post-placement visit is required before a private adoption can be finalized.

– Finalize the adoption. Once post-placement requirements have been met, Bierly & Rabuck can arrange your finalization hearing to legally complete the adoption. You and your child will appear in court, where you will receive the final adoption decree and celebrate your new family.

– Continue post-placement contact. While the legal baby adoption process ends with finalization, your adoption journey may continue with post-placement contact with your baby’s birth family. Depending on your Post-Adoption Contact Agreement, you may continue to exchange pictures, letters, phone calls, email, and even visits with your child’s birth family for years to come.

By its very nature, adopting an infant can be a stressful process. At Bierly & Rabuck, our goal is to ensure you have the information and support you need to feel confident in your family-building decisions and ensure your adoption process is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

If you are interested in adopting an infant in Pennsylvania, or if you would like to learn more about how to adopt a child domestically, please contact Bierly & Rabuck to schedule a consultation.