Montgomery County Same-Sex Adoption Lawyer
Adoption and LGBT Families
The rights of same-sex couples vary from state to state. The state of Pennsylvania allows same-sex couples and single LGBT individuals to adopt children. Sexual orientation is not taken into consideration and the same process for heterosexual couples applies to LGBT couples as well. There is a popular misconception that it will be harder for a same-sex couple to adopt; however, that is rarely the case in Pennsylvania.
Still, different agencies handle things differently; and the best way to ensure a smooth adoption process is to speak to a Montgomery County LGBT family law attorney.
If the couple decides not to go the adoption route and chooses artificial insemination instead, it is important for the non-carrying parent to know that he or she will still need to formally adopt the child to have legal rights over the child. Signing the birth certificate does not guarantee that you will keep all of your rights in the event of a breakup. The birth parent will have full rights and it will be up to him or her to allow you to have a relationship with the child afterward, unless you adopt the child legally.
Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption is when one of an unmarried same-sex couple wants to adopt the partner’s biological child. At first, only married couples were allowed to adopt their significant other’s child, but in 2002 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that unmarried couples could adopt as well. Second parent adoption doesn’t take away any rights from the first parent; it simply provides the same rights to the second parent. To the child, it also provides inheritance rights from the second parent.
Pennsylvania’s Adoption/Foster Family RequirementsPennsylvania’s Department of Human Services partners with the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE) and Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) to keep a list of children and families who want and need adoption. They regulate all adoptions in the state.
In order to be an adoptive parent, you must:
- Attend training. PAE requires 24 hours of training, but it depends on the agency you go through (the state does not require a full 24 hours).
- Get state and federal background checks. This goes for every person in your household over 18 years old, and includes any states in which you lived the previous 5 years.
- Have a physical exam, including a tuberculosis test.
- Provide references from non-family members.
- Have a safety check of your home.
- Work with a social worker to have a "family profile" or "home study" written up, documenting your family’s strengths.
It does not matter what you live in, how much money you make, or if you are single – you can adopt in Pennsylvania. All foster parent training is free, and if you adopt a child that you’ve already fostered, the adoption is free.
Completing a Successful Adoption
- Be in agreement with your partner - Make sure you two are on the same page. If one partner does not truly want a child, it might be a mistake to force the issue and bring a child home to contention or disinterest.
- Sort through your emotions and stay informed - Before adopting, you must sit down and discuss all of the factors. Are you physically, emotionally, and financially ready to take on this responsibility? Are you ready to face the challenges of adoption?
- Consider the different types of adoption - Decide whether an open, semi-open, or closed adoption would work best for your situation.
- Create an adoption profile - Make sure it stands out and not only gives information about you, but shows what the child’s life will be like with you.
- Complete the home study - This is the most important part of the process. Don’t overthink it and be yourself. Make sure your home is presentable and that it provides enough space for the child.
- Learn about the birth parents - It is important to know where the child comes from especially, when it involves health and behavior. If you know what to expect, it will help you handle things later on down the line.
- Create a post-placement plan - Ensure that a support system is in place to help you adjust to adoptive parent life and have daycare, school, and other responsibilities figured out ahead of time.
Adopting a child in need is one of the best things a person can do. It brings joy to same-sex couples and provides the child with a new chance of being raised in a healthy environment. The process can be long and stressful, but this should not deter you from becoming adoptive parents.
If you are looking to adopt a new baby or adopt the child of your significant other, give the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., a call at (866) 240-9292 for a free consultation. We have over 25 years of experience in family law and adoption. During the consultation, we will explain all of your options and help you decide what is best for you.