Pennsylvania adoption laws


Any individual can adopt.

Can LGBT families adopt? Yes, same-sex couples can petition for joint adoption.


Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Yes.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Yes, an intermediary (a person or agency) may be used in arranging an adoption, but adoption placement can’t occur without a favorable homestudy report completed within 3 years and supplemented within 1 year. The intermediary must submit a written report to the court with his/her contact information, information regarding the child’s background and birth parents, and a record of monetary transactions between the intermediary and any other person. The intermediary can only accept the following payments: the birthmother’s medical expenses in connection with the child, the child’s medical and foster care expenses before adoption, counseling/training/pre and post adoption services for adoptive parents, and the agency’s administrative expenses.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Medical expenses directly related to birth and delivery. Legal expenses may occur, but encouraged that full disclosure be given to all parties, and to the court. Counseling fund overseen by the Court system, but difficult to access for birthmother expenses.

Is there a putative father registry? Yes, the Bureau of Child Enforcement and Support.

When can consent to adoption be granted? Birthmother: 72 hours after birth; birthfather: any time after he learns of her pregnancy.

 When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? Birthmother: 30 days after signing; birthfather: 30 days after signing or birth, whichever is later. Increase to 60 days if they can prove fraud or duress. Return is not automatic, but difficult for adoptive families to win such cases.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Not addressed in state statutes.


Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, if the decree is by a court following due process of law and the adoptive parent is a Pennsylvania resident, the court (upon receipt of the foreign decree of adoption, a copy of the child’s visa, birth identification) will recognize the foreign adoption decree.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Yes, when a foreign adoption must be finalized. The adoption is not considered finalized if the adopting parent/s was/were not present for the foreign adoption hearing, the foreign court did not issue an adoption decree, or the child does not have the correct U.S. visa.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? The State Dept. will issue a U.S. birth certificate for a child with adopting parents who are U.S. citizens and Pennsylvania residents upon request and receipt of the adoption decree and proof of the date and place of birth of the child.


Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsides are available for a special needs child as defined by having a genetic condition that puts him/her at risk for developing a disease or handicap. In addition, the child must be in foster care for more than 6 months, in the custody of a county agency or Dept. of Public Welfare approved agency, and 18 years or younger. Starts upon adoption agreement.

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in Pennsylvania?

Office of Children, Youth, and Families
7th & Foster Streets, P.O. Box 2675
Harrisburg, PA 17105
(717) 783-7287