Adoption

In Pennsylvania, a natural parent cannot voluntarily relinquish his rights and obligations to his child, and the other parent cannot terminate his parental rights — unless there is an intent to adopt (by a stepparent, for example). The sole purpose of terminating parental rights is to remove any block to a potential adoption.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

1. The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties.

2. The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well-being and the conditions and causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied by the parent.

3. The parent is the presumptive but not the natural father of the child.

4. The child is in the custody of an agency, having been found under such circumstances that the identity or whereabouts of the parent is unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent search and the parent does not claim the child within three months after the child is found.

5. The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency for a period of at least six months, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist, the parent cannot or will not remedy those conditions within a reasonable period of time, the services or assistance reasonably available to the parent are not likely to remedy the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child within a reasonable period of time and termination of the parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

6. In the case of a newborn child, the parent knows or has reason to know of the child’s birth, does not reside with the child, has not married the child’s other parent, has failed for a period of four months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to make reasonable efforts to maintain substantial and continuing contact with the child and has failed during the same four-month period to provide substantial financial support for the child.

7. The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest.

8. The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency, 12 months or more have elapsed from the date of removal or placement, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist and termination of parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

9. The parent has been convicted of one of the following in which the victim was a child of the parent:

(i)  an offense under 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide);

(ii)  a felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault);

(iii)  an offense in another jurisdiction equivalent to an offense in subparagraph (i) or (ii); or

(iv)  an attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit an offense in subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii).

23 Pa.C.S. § 2511 (a).

If you are seeking to adopt or are facing the termination of your parental rights, contact Vodzak Law now to request legal representation.

See also: Adult Adoption

Stepparent Adoption