The Law Office of Stephen Ross in Pottstown provides compassionate, personalized and experienced representation for clients seeking adoptions throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. We offer flat fees so you will know your adoption costs upfront.
There are many steps involved in planning an adoption, including:
- Obtaining a home study: One of the first steps necessary before a child can be placed in an adoptive home is a home study. The home study is not necessary for relative, stepparent adoptions or for an adoption arranged privately between adoptive parents and birth parents; however, in some circumstances a court could still require a home study. A home study is usually performed by a licensed adoption agency or licensed social worker. The study will require a criminal background check and child abuse clearances.
- Birth parent counseling: The next step of a placement adoption requires birth parent counseling. While counseling is not mandatory, it is highly recommended that the birth parents receive counseling. Pennsylvania law prohibits adoptive parents from paying for this counseling. Some counties have funds established to pay for this counseling.
- Reimbursement of birth parents: Adoptive parents may reimburse birth parents for the following items: medical and hospital expenses for prenatal care; medical, hospital and foster care expenses for the child prior to the actual adoption decree; reasonable expenses incurred by agency or third parties for counseling and training provided to adoptive parents and for home studies; and reasonable administrative expenses incurred by the agency, including overhead and attorney's fees. Adoptive parents may not pay for or reimburse for any birth parent counseling, birth parent attorney fees, birth parent living expenses, which include rent, utilities, clothing, car expenses and food. Pennsylvania law is very restrictive on allowable expenses.
- Obtaining medical records: Pre-placement planning must also include obtaining social and medical history records of the birth parents and prenatal records of the birth mother. These can be provided to the adoptive parents without all of the identifying information of the birth parent and baby.
- Open versus closed adoption: Adoptions can be completely anonymous and confidential which is called “closed” or can be “open” with exchange of all identifying information. The birth parent can place on file with the court and the department of health a consent to release information contained in the adoptees original birth certificate or other identifying information after the adoptee reaches the age of 18 or to the adoptive parents prior to the age of 18. There are no statutory requirements regarding open adoptions, which may involve continuing contact, and exchange of pictures and letters. However, the adoption consent or termination of rights cannot be based on the openness as a condition of the adoption as it could later be argued that consent was not valid since the adoption act requires consents be unconditional. To avoid this problem, a birth parent should execute an acknowledgement of unconditional consent should there be an agreement for continuing contact.
- Medical expenses for birth mother: If the birth mother and baby do not have medical coverage, it should be placed in writing what medical expenses the adoptive parents will be responsible for and when they have to pay them. It should also be written that in the event the birth mother revokes her consent, she will be solely responsible for the medical bills. Adoptive parents do not have to wait until the adoption is final to have the child covered under their insurance. In fact, the adoptive parent's health insurance carrier should be contacted prior to the birth in order to determine what is required to place the child on the insurance plan.
- Birth father's consent: Finally, do not wait until the child is born and placed to determine whether the alleged birth father is in agreement with the placement or whether he will contest to the adoption.
Contact Our Adoption Lawyers in Pottstown
For more information about planning the adoptive placement in Pennsylvania, Contact us to schedule a consultation with our Pottstown adoption attorneys. We serve families in Montgomery County, Chester County, Berks County, Philadelphia County, Lancaster County and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania.