Archives for November 2018

Adopting as a Single Parent in Pennsylvania

Considerations for Single-Parent Adoption in Pennsylvania

Is it possible to adopt a child as a single person in Pennsylvania, and does it make the process more complicated or difficult? What are the things you should consider before adopting as a single parent? Is the legal framework different for single people?

Adoption Requirements

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly a third of the adoptions of children from foster care nationally during 2011 were completed by people who were not married. More than 13,000 single women and 1,400 hundred single adopted children in the United States that year. In Pennsylvania, there are no legal requirements that mandate that a person must be part of a couple in order to pursue an adoption. The only required first step is that you are at least 21 years of age.

Types of Adoption in Pennsylvania

Since there are no legal restrictions on adoption tied to relationship status, single people can pursue the same options that are available to couples, including foster care, international and domestic adoptions. The state of Pennsylvania offers resources to facilitate adoptions. The Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange maintains a database of children who need a family and people who’ve been approved to adopt.

Adoptions of children from other countries implicate the rules and regulations of the other country as well as those that apply to adopting a child in Pennsylvania. Some countries might have laws prohibiting adoption by single people. A PA adoption attorney might be able to explain the applicable rules and laws.

Considerations for Single-Parent Adoptions

Regardless of the specific adoption type, single parents should follow some advice as they approach the process. First, it’s important to have a support system in place that consists of family and friends. Raising a child is among the most stressful and potentially overwhelming tasks in which a person can undertake even with the presence of a partner. If you are interested in pursuing a single-parent adoption in PA, it’s best to think about upon whom you can rely and let friends and family know you might need their support when you get stressed out or have to be in a few places at once.

With regard to your support system, ask yourself:

  • Do you have people you would feel comfortable calling on for help and accepting help from?
  • What do your friends and family think about your decision to parent on your own?
  • Who will come to your home to help when you or your child gets sick?
  • Do you know people who live nearby who could provide help, if necessary, at a moment’s notice?
  • Is there someone upon whom you can rely and trust to give you a break overnight or for the weekend?

The second piece of advice regarding adoption for single parents is to not worry about the negative ideas of others if you encounter them. Some people may have long-standing prejudices that prevent them from seeing how important and positive single-parent adoption can be. When the child is old enough to understand, sit down with him or her and discuss the many different ways in which a happy family might be formed. Third, make an emergency plan. It is the primary job of a parent to be prepared for things like financial necessities, sickness or injury.

Choosing to Adopt

The decision to adopt a child is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Even in two-parent households, both individuals are scarcely able to find the time to protect, care for and raise their children while also working and managing their own mental, physical and emotional requirements. Single parents may have to work harder to prove stability and financial responsibility to birth parents and adoption agencies as well.

For single people who are interested in adopting, a PA adoption attorney might be able to help by communicating with officials on their behalf or drafting and filing necessary documents. Please contact our Philadelphia office at (215) 563-2150 for more information about adoption in Pennsylvania.

Adopting With an Agency in New Jersey

Understanding the New Jersey Adoption Process

Many parents are eager to adopt in New Jersey as the state has a reputation for being friendly to the adoption process. In fact, people have traveled from outside the state in order to finalize their adoption in New Jersey because state law tends to be inclusive while favoring adoption when it is in the best interests of the child. Since the child’s interests are paramount in a New Jersey adoption case, the system aims to protect finalized family arrangements that will not be subject to ongoing disruption over time.

Working With an Adoption Agency

State law gives strong support to adoptive parents who work with an adoption agency. State-approved adoption agencies are now under clear supervision and monitoring. Due to this regulation, individuals who work with these agencies can benefit from a streamlined process that can help them finalize an adoption relatively quickly and smoothly.

The birth mother should sign over her parental rights to the child at least 72 hours after the birth of the baby. That 72-hour period provides time to make sure that her decision was made in a clear state of mind without the pressure imposed by labor and childbirth. If the surrender of parental rights is signed in the proper time period with a state-approved agency, it is considered an irrevocable consent to adoption, and there is no additional waiting period under state law.

Parents should always make sure that they are working with a state-approved and -licensed adoption agency in good standing. The strong regulations that exist today are in place due to serious abuses that have taken place in past years that separated birth parents from their children without true consent. Even today, birth mothers can contest an agency adoption but only if they can prove:

  • Duress
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation

Working with a legitimate adoption agency can help protect both adoptive and birth parents. A New Jersey adoption lawyer can provide guidance throughout the process to make sure that everything is proceeding according to plan. Adoptive parents who are considering an international adoption should also make sure that the agency they work with is accredited by the Hague Convention.

What About Birth Fathers?

In New Jersey, birth mothers are not required by law to identify the father of their child. However, adoption agencies are required to act diligently to identify the biological father of the baby being placed for adoption. If the agency identifies the father, it must notify him of his rights and seek his consent for the adoption. The birth father has a right to file an objection when he receives this notice because his rights to the child are equal to those of the birth mother. On the other hand, the birth father can also respond by signing a voluntary surrender of his rights.

If the agency does not receive a response to its notification or is unable to find the biological father, he must affirmatively act to assert his parental rights in order to legally protect them. The birth father has 120 days after the child’s birth to attempt to establish paternity or amend the birth certificate to add his name. If he does not act and never responds, the adoptive parents do not need to continue to serve the birth father as they proceed with their complaint for adoption. In this situation, an identified birth father can have his parental rights terminated by his inaction in the first four months after the child’s birth, and there is no need to pursue additional termination proceedings.

If the birth father is unidentified, the situation can be more complex. However, the court can terminate the rights of an unknown birth father during the adoption process as well. A New Jersey adoption attorney can advise adoptive parents about how an unidentified birth father could affect the process.

Filing a Complaint for Adoption

New Jersey adoption lawyer can help adoptive parents file their complaint for adoption according to the timelines provided under state law. Experienced NJ adoption attorneys can work with parents to achieve a successful outcome and welcome their new child to their family. Potential adoptive parents can contact attorney Donald C. Cofsky for experienced adoption advice and representation as he has a track record of helping over 1,500 families grow. Call our office in Haddonfield at (856) 429-5005 or our office in Woodbury at (856) 845-2555 to set up a consultation.