A Breakdown of Adoption Laws in Pennsylvania


The decision to grow a family through adoption is one of the most exciting, monumental steps a parent can take in a lifetime. While Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states for adopting families, several guidelines, timelines, and parameters must be followed in order to embark on a smooth, successful adoption process. Below is a breakdown of the adoption laws in Pennsylvania.


Although Pennsylvania does not have any age-specific adoption laws, prospective parents who are looking at fostering to adopt must be at least 21 years old. Generally, couples who are married are eligible to adopt together. Individuals can apply for single parent adoption under special circumstances Pennsylvania also has no laws preventing LGBTQ parents from adopting. Since the passage of marriage equality in 2016, the same rules apply for most married couples.

Anyone looking to adopt must participate in a home study both pre and post-adoption. Home studies are essential to confirm the home as a stable and nurturing environment for the child. The adoptive parents, along with any other adult who lives in the home, will be investigated and will have to divulge and record of criminal history or any evidence of being registered as a sex offender within the last five years.


Pennsylvania has a 72-hour waiting period post-birth before consent by the birth mother can be executed. However, birth fathers can execute consent anytime before or after the birth of the child. If parents present a petition to the court in order to relinquish parental rights, they can also execute consent. If the birth father doesn’t file an objection or appear at the subsequent hearing, the court can file to terminate his parental rights as well. Birth parents have 30 days to revoke the consent they have provided.

The list of individuals who need to provide consent for the adoption of a child varies with each unique family structure. Children over 12 years old must also give consent in order to be adopted, and incapacitated children must have consent provided by a legal guardian. Any surviving biological parent must give consent (with the exception of the termination described above) as well as the spouse of the adopting parent if they are not both on the adoption petition.


The costs that can be covered by adoptive parents is regulated by each state. In Pennsylvania, adoptive parents can cover the medical and hospital expenses for the birth mother related to both prenatal care and the actual birth process. Expenses associated with home studies, counseling services, and training along with overhead costs associated with adoption agencies and attorney fees are also eligible to be covered by the adoptive parents. When it comes to the exchange of money between adoptive parents and birth parents, one of the most critical requirements is that an intermediary party must handle the exchange of funds and produces reports itemizing each service, dollar amount, and agreement between the two parties.

Adoption is an exciting life-changing process that can be full of complexities. Adoptive parents and birth parents can spend time focusing on what’s best for each family with a qualified family attorney who can provide guidance. Contact Shafer Law Firm for more information. 


About the Author: Elizabeth L. Spadafore

Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010.  She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.

This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.