Adoptions

Adoptions

For many families, filing the petition in the Orphans' Court is the last step in their long process for adoption. Your adoption may have been facilitated through an intermediary agency. A birth parent's parental rights must be terminated to file an adoption. Investigations and background checks need to be completed. Whatever steps you have gone through, our office will do our best to help you complete the process, but please keep in mind that we are bound by the law and by confidentiality. We will not be able to assist you with all issues.  There are different types of adoptions which include Adult Adoptions, Foreign Adoptions, Foster Parent, Private or Parent Initiated, and Stepparent Adoptions.  

You must provide the completed petition and the fees due to the Orphans' Court office. The original petition and two copies shall be filed along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The petition will be forwarded to the Judge for action. The matter will be scheduled for a hearing and the petitioner directed to complete the Certificate of Adoption H105 form and present it to the Court at the time of hearing. 

 Once a Decree has been entered, allow 6-8 weeks before requesting a certified birth certificate from the Vital Records. Contact the Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, 101 S. Mercer St, New Castle, PA 16101. Telephone 1-877-PA-HEALTH or 724-656-3100 or go to www.health.state.pa.us/vital records

Adoption records are confidential! 

The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) 

The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) is both a broad-based cooperative effort and a centralized information and facilitation service funded and overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. SWAN includes county children and youth agencies, juvenile court judges, foster and adoptive parents, private adoption agencies, the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange and many others, all working together on behalf of children who need permanent homes. 

The Pennsylvania adoption Law (Act 101 of 2010) allows parties to an adoption (adoptee, birth parents, adoptive parents, and some extended family members) to have access to information about their adoption without the need for a court order from a judge. It also provides an option for adoptive parents and birth relatives to enter into a voluntary agreement for ongoing communication or contact between the child and the birth relative or between the adoptive parent and the birth relative.

An individual may find what County handled the adoption by contacting the Department of Vital Statistics in writing. There is no fee for the information, but the individual must provide their adoptive name and date of birth. They must also provide a copy of their driver’s license or two other forms of ID (bills, etc.) that have their name and address on them and their phone number.  

Requestor must file a written request including their name, maiden name, address, date of birth, place of birth, and (adoptive parents’ names). They should indicate whether they want identifying or non-identifying information.
The caption for all pleadings and the docket entry regarding an adoption shall be in the name to be taken by the proposed adoptee. Where there was a prior relinquishment or termination proceeding known to the adopting parents, there shall be a reference thereto by number and year in the petition for adoption. Each child will be assigned a case number even if multiple names are on one petition. The original and two copies of the petition shall be filed in the Clerk of Courts Office along with the filing fee for each child. The Clerk of Courts office will assign a docket number and forward document to the Orphans' Court Judge. An Order of Court will be filed in the Clerk of Courts office. A copy will be forwarded to the Petitioner.  Hearings are held on Adoption Day which occur every odd month. See Court Calendar for scheduled Adoption Days. 
PA Information Registry Birth Parent/Birth Survivor Authorization to Release Information and Registration Form: Pennsylvania Adoption Information Registry 
  • The individuals listed above may file a written request for information or contact with the following individuals:
  • An adoptee 21 or older.
  • A birth parent of adoptee.
  • A parent of the birth parent of an adoptee who is 21 or older if the birth parent consents, is incapacitated or is deceased.
  • A birth sibling of an adoptee if both the sibling and adoptee are 21 or older and the following criteria exist:
  • The birth sibling remained in custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents to the release of the information or contact, is deceased or incapacitated.
  • The birth sibling and the adoptee were both adopted out of the same birth family; or
  • The birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.   

The following individuals may file a written request for identifying or non-identifying information contained in the adoption record if the adoption was finalized in Adams County Orphans’ Court: 

  • An adoptee at least 18.
  • An adoptive parent of adoptee who is under 18, or adjudicated incapacitated and is 18 or older, or who is deceased; A legal guardian of adoptee who is under 18 or adjudicated incapacitated.
  • A descendant of a deceased adoptee.
  • A birth parent of an adoptee 21 or older.
  • A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee 21 or older if the birth parent consents, is incapacitated or is deceased.
  • A birth sibling of an adoptee if both are 21 or older and meet the following criteria:
  • The birth sibling remained in the custody of a birth parent and that birth parent consents, is deceased or is incapacitated.
  • The birth sibling and the adoptee were both adopted out of the same birth family; or
  • The birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.