Pennsylvania Adoption Law - "Easy" and "Legal" Versions


Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 23, 2101 to2910, and

Title 55, 3350.1 to 3350.14 (1995)

Who Can Adopt?

Any individual may adopt.

Who Can Be Adopted?

Any individual may be adopted, regardless of his age or residence.

Consent to Adoption

Consent is required of the following parties:

(1) the parents of the adoptee, who is under 18 years of age;

(2) the husband, if he was the husband of the natural mother at any time within 1 year prior to the birth of the adoptee;

(3) the spouse of the adopting parent, unless the spouse joins in the adoption;

(4) the adoptee, if over 12 years of age;

(5) the guardian of an incapacitated adoptee;

(6) the guardian or anyone having custody of the adoptee whenever there is no parent whose consent is required.

(7) If the adoptee is over 18 years of age, or if the adoptee is under 18 and has no living parents, then the court may decide that only the adoptee's consent is required.

The husband of the natural mother, who is proven not to be the adoptee's father, is not required to consent.

Consent is not required when parental rights have been involuntarily terminated (for example, due to repeated and continuous abuse, neglect, or failure to care for the child).

Consent cannot occur until 72 hours after the birth of the child. Consent may only be revoked prior to the final decree of adoption or the termination of parental rights, whichever occurs first.

Putative Father's Rights

A putative father may execute a consent to adoption at any time after receiving notice of the expected or actual birth of the child. If a putative father fails to file acknowledgment of paternity, appear at the adoption hearing, or file an objection, the court may enter a decree terminating parental rights of the putative father.


All adoption records, and other papers shall be withheld from inspection except upon a court order. The adoptee, who is at least 18 years of age, or the adoptee's adoptive parents, if the adoptee is under 18 years of age, may request of the court information concerning the natural parents that will not reveal their identity. Upon such a request of an adoptee who is 18 years ofage, or the adoptive parents, if the adoptee is under 18 years of age, the court or the agency which placed the adoptee may attempt to contact the natural parents to obtain their consent to release of their identity. Information shall only be released about parents that agree to the disclosure.

Permissible Fees

The adoption report shall include an itemized account of all money paid by adoptive parents. The following payments made by the adoptive parent to a third party are permissible: Medical and hospital expenses incurred by the natural mother or on behalf of the child prior to adoption and reasonable expenses incurred by an agency for administrative costs and for counseling and training services to the adoptive parents. The court may also require th eadoptive parents to pay for the legal fees of the biological parents, and the child's guardian ad litem, and counsel but not to exceed $150.

Place of Adoption Hearing

The adoption hearing can take place in the court of the county where the adoptee's biological parents or the adoptive parents live, where the adoptee formerly lived, or where the child-placing agency that has custody is located.

Authority To Place Child

Any incorporated or unincorporated organization, society, institution, orother entity, public or voluntary, which may receive or provide for the care of children, supervised by the Department of Public Welfare, and providing adoption services in accordance with standards of the Department, has authority to place a child. An intermediary may act between the adoptive and natural parents to help arrange the adoption. The intermediary must file with the court, prior to the adoption, an affidavit containing a statement of fees and expenses, extensive information concerning the child, and other statutorily prescribed terms.

Relative Adoption

The preadoption report required of all adopting parents is not required when a relative or stepparent is adopting the child.

Special Circumstances

Whenever possible, the adopting parent shall be of the same religious faith as the natural parents of the adoptee.


Chapter 29: Decrees and Records

2905. Impounding of proceedings and access to records.

(a) General rule.-All petitions, exhibits, reports, notes of testimony, decrees, and other papers pertaining to any proceeding under this part or former statutes relating to adoption shall be kept in the files of the court as a permanent record thereof and withheld from inspection except on an order of court grants upon cause shown or except as otherwise provided in this section. Any report required to be filed under sections 2530 (relating to home study and preplacement report), 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) and 2535 (relating to investigation) shall be made available to parties to an adoption proceeding only after all identifying names and addresses in the report have been extirpated by the court.

(b) Petition to court for limited information.-Upon petition by any adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian to the court in the judicial district in which the permanent records relating to the adoption have been impounded, the court shall furnish to the adoptee as much information concerning the adoptee's natural parents as will not endanger the anonymity of the natural parents. The information shall first be reviewed, in camera, by the court to insure that no information is revealed which would endanger the anonymity of the natural parents. The court shall, upon motion of the adoptee, examine the entire record to determine if any additional information can safely be revealed without endangering the anonymity of the natural parents.

(c) Access to identity of natural parents.-

(1) Upon petition of an adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian, the court may also, through its designated agent, attempt to contact the natural parents, if known, to obtain their consent to release their identity and present place of residence to the adoptee. The petition may state the reasons why the adoptee desires to contact his natural parents, which reasons shall be disclosed to the natural parents if contacted. However, the court and its agents shall take care that none but the natural parents themselves are informed of the adoptee's existence and relationship to them. The court may refuse to contact the natural parents if it believes that, under the circumstances, there would be a substantial risk that persons other than the natural parents would learn of the adoptee's existence and relationship to the natural parents. The court shall appoint either the county children and youth agency, or a private agency which provides adoption services in accordance with standards established by the Department of Public Welfare, to contact the natural parents as its designated agent.

(2) In Addition to petitioning the court to contact the natural parents, an adoptee at least 18 years of age, or if less than 18, his adoptive parent or legal guardian may request the agency that placed the adoptee to contact his natural parents. If the agency agrees to attempt to contact the natural parents, it shall do so pursuant to the same safeguards provided for court inquiries in paragraph (1).

(3) If the court or an agency contacts the natural parents of an adoptee pursuant to a petition or request made under paragraph (1) or (2), except as hereinafter provided, information relating to both natural parents shall only be disclosed to the adoptee if both natural parents agree to the disclosure. If both of the natural parents are deceased, their identities may be disclosed. If only one parent agrees to the disclosure, then only the information relating to the agreeing parents shall be disclosed.

(4) The Department of Public Welfare may, by regulation, prescribe procedures related to contact of natural parents by designated agents of the court.

(d) Disclosure of information.-

(1) No disclosure of information shall be made by the court, an agency, the Department of Health or any other Commonwealth agency regarding the adopted person's original certificate of birth or regarding the documents of proof on which the amended certificate of birth is based or relating in any way to the natural parents unless the disclosure is made pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, the natural parents may, at the time of the termination of their parental rights pursuant to Chapter 25 (relating to proceedings prior to petition to adopt) or at any time thereafter, place on file, with the court and with the Department of Health, a consent form granting permission for the court or the department to disclose the information contained in the adoptee's original certificate of birth, or any other identifying or nonidentifying information pertaining to the natural parents, at any time after the adoptee attains the age of 18 or, if less than 18, to his adoptive parent or legal guardian. If both parents give their consent, the information on the birth certificate may be disclosed. If only one parent gives consent, only the identity of the consenting parent shall be disclosed. The natural parents shall be entitled to update those records, as necessary, to reflect the natural parent's current address or any other information pertaining to the natural parents. The information may only be disclosed upon request of the adoptee or his adoptive parent or legal guardian, and the consent of the natural parents may be withdrawn at any time by filing a withdrawal of consent form with the court and the department. The department shall prescribe by regulation the procedure and forms to be utilized for the giving, updating, and withdrawal of the consent.

(3) An adoptee at least 18 years of age or, if less than 18 years of age, the parent or legal guardian of the adoptee shall have access to any original or updated medical history information on file with the court which entered the decree of termination or the Department of Public Welfare. No medical history information shall be released which would endanger the anonymity of the natural parents.

Pennsylvania Adoption Search and Education Links


PAFind EMAIL LIST - a FREE e-mail list of PA searchers helping one another.

STATE REGISTRIES AND POLITICS - Why neither are helping PA searchers much.

RELINQUISHMENT PAPERS - Like to see an example of PA relinquishment papers?

YOUR OLD AGENCY - Backtrack here for possible help in search.

COUNTY OF FINALIZATION - Some county specific info. You need to find this out and it may not be where you think.

THE DECREE - Adoptee is adopted in the county of finalization, records now sealed. Want to see a decree?

FORMAL PETITION - Learn how some counties make it a bit harder.

NON-ID - Learn what it is, and how to ask for it.


ADOPTION GROUPS - known in PA that handle search, support, legislation or all three.

SEARCH BASICS - In addition to this whole menu, here's a list of ways to search and try to be found.

PHONE CALL AND LETTER IDEAS - When you are close to making that respectful first contact.

SEARCH SUCKS! I NEED A *@$#! BREAK! - Take one, pal.

HIRING A SEARCHER OR PI? - Caveat emptor! Read some parameters and cautions.

THE UNIFORM ADOPTION ACT or UAA - Learn more about "The Evil Act". Coming to PA or your state?

CITY PAPER - Coverage of adoption search, law and the UAA in PA.

PERSONAL ESSAY - on adoption with info for all sides of the triad.

REGISTRIES AND GENERAL (NON-PA) ADOPTION STUFF - links to varied good places.

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