Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Pennsylvania

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Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2908

When a minor is adopted by a resident of this Commonwealth and a final decree of adoption is made or entered in conformity with the laws of a foreign country, the adopting parent shall file a properly authenticated copy of the foreign decree of adoption, a copy of the child's visa, and either the child's birth certificate or some form of birth identification with the clerk of the court in the county of residence of the parent. If the foreign decree of adoption is not in English, the adopting parent also shall file a certified English translation. If no birth certificate or birth identification can be obtained, the adopting parent shall include an affidavit stating the reason therefor.

The court shall develop a foreign adoption registration form and instructions for its use. The adopting parent or parents shall sign the foreign adoption registration form indicating that they have read and understand the information provided. The form shall include statements indicating that the foreign adoption may not be a full and final adoption if the following are true:

  • Both parents, or just the sole parent if only one parent is adopting, were not present for the adoption hearing in the foreign country.
  • The foreign court did not enter a final adoption decree or its equivalent.
  • The child's visa is not the type that would afford the child full U.S. citizenship.

The form shall notify the adopting parent or parents that an adoption decree may be obtained from the Commonwealth if the documents filed in accordance with the subsection above are reviewed by the court and the court determines the foreign adoption was full and final.

At the time of filing, a copy of the foreign decree of adoption and a certified English translation, if necessary; the child's visa; and either the child's birth certificate or some form of birth identification shall be attached to the foreign registration form and submitted to the clerk of court.

In cases in which the court determines the foreign adoption was full and final, the court shall direct the clerk to enter upon the docket an entry showing the foreign court identification of the proceedings in that court and the date of the decree. The clerk shall issue to the parent a certificate of adoption, as defined in § 2907 (relating to certificate of adoption). The clerk also shall send documentation to the Department of Health. No hearing shall be required prior to the issuance of the certificate of adoption, and the parent shall not be required to obtain counsel.

The court shall develop a standard petition, a standard court order, and instructions for their use for occasions when a child must be readopted to finalize the adoption. The clerk shall provide the adopting parent with the standardized information.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2702; 2711; 2533; 2534

The adoption petition shall have attached to it the following exhibits:

  • The consent or consents required by § 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption)
  • If not already filed with a report of an intermediary, the exhibits enumerated in § 2534 (relating to exhibits)

Any consent given outside this Commonwealth shall be valid for purposes of this section if it was given in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where it was executed.

Within 6 months after filing the report of intention to adopt, the intermediary that arranged the adoption placement of any child under age 18 shall make a written report to the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed. The report shall set forth the following:

  • The name and address of the intermediary
  • The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth, and religious affiliation of the child
  • The date of the placement of the child with the adopting parent or parents
  • The name; racial background; age; marital status, as of the time of birth of the child and during 1 year prior thereto; and religious affiliation of the parents of the child
  • Identification of proceedings in which any decree of termination of parental rights, or parental rights and duties, with respect to the child was entered
  • The residence of the parents or parent of the child, if there has been no such decree of termination
  • A statement that all consents required by § 2711 are attached as exhibits or the basis upon which the consents are not required
  • An itemized accounting of monies and consideration paid or to be paid to or received by the intermediary or to or by any other person or persons to the knowledge of the intermediary by reason of the adoption placement
  • A full description and statement of the value of all property owned or possessed by the child
  • A statement that no provision of any statute regulating the interstate placement of children has been violated with respect to the placement of the child
  • If no birth certificate or certification of registration of birth can be obtained, a statement of the reason therefor
  • A statement that medical history information was obtained and if not obtained, a statement of the reason therefor

The report of the intermediary shall have attached to it the following exhibits:

  • A birth certificate or certification of registration of birth of the child, if it can be obtained
  • All consents to adoption required by § 2711
  • A certified copy of any decree of termination of parental rights or parental rights and duties made by a court other than the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed

Background Studies

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2530

No intermediary shall place a child in the physical care or custody of a prospective adoptive parent or parents unless a home study containing a favorable recommendation for placement of a child with the prospective parent or parents has been completed within 3 years prior thereto and that has been supplemented within one 1 prior thereto. The home study shall be conducted by a local public child care agency, an adoption agency, or a licensed social worker designated by the court to perform such study.

A preplacement report shall be prepared by the agency or person conducting the home study. The preplacement report shall set forth all pertinent information relating to the fitness of the adopting parents as parents. The preplacement report shall be based upon a study that shall include an investigation of the following:

  • The home environment
  • Family life and parenting skills
  • The ages of the parents and their physical and mental health
  • Social, cultural, and religious background
  • The facilities and resources of the adoptive parents
  • Their ability to manage their resources

The preplacement report shall include a determination regarding the fitness of the adopting parents as parents.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2724; 2531; 2535

The court may request that an investigation be made by a person or agency to verify the statements of the petition and such other facts that will give the court full knowledge of the desirability of the proposed adoption. In any case, the age; sex; health; social and economic status; or racial, ethnic, or religious background of the child or adopting parents shall not preclude an adoption, but the court shall decide its desirability on the basis of the physical, mental, and emotional needs and welfare of the child.

Every person who has received custody or physical care of any child younger than age 18 for the purpose or with the intention of adopting the child shall report to the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed. The report shall set forth the following:

  • The circumstances surrounding the persons receiving or retaining custody or physical care of the child, including the date upon which a preplacement investigation was concluded
  • The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth, and religious affiliation of the child
  • The name and address of the intermediary
  • An itemized accounting of monies and consideration paid or to be paid to the intermediary
  • Whether the parent or parents whose parental rights are to be terminated have received counseling with respect to the termination
  • The name, address, and signature of the person or persons making the report
  • A copy of the preplacement report

When a report required by § 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) has been filed, the court shall cause an investigation to be made and a report filed by a local public child care agency, a voluntary child care agency with its consent, or an appropriate person designated by the court. The investigation shall cover all pertinent information regarding the following:

  • The child's eligibility for adoption and the suitability of the placement, including the physical, mental, and emotional needs and welfare of the child
  • The child's and the adopting parents' age, sex, health, and racial, ethnic, and religious background

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2902

If satisfied that the statements made in the petition are true, that the needs and welfare of the person proposed to be adopted will be promoted by the adoption, and that all requirements of this part have been met, the court shall enter a decree so finding and directing that the person proposed to be adopted shall have all the rights of a child and heir of the adopting parent or parents and shall be subject to the duties of a child to them.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 35, § 450.604

For any child born in a foreign country but adopted in Pennsylvania, whose adopting parents are U.S. citizens and residents of Pennsylvania, the Department of Health shall, upon request, complete and register a birth certificate upon receipt of a certified copy of the decree of adoption, together with proof of the date and place of the child's birth.

The birth certificate shall show the new name of the child, as specified in the decree of adoption, and such further information concerning the adopting parents as may be necessary to complete the birth certificate. The certificate shall show the true country and date of birth of the child and that the certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship.

For any foreign-born child who satisfies the requirements of either 8 U.S.C. § 1431 or 1433 and whose parent presents documents from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or their successor agencies, including either a certificate of citizenship, a U.S. passport, or other document as specified by the department, verifying the child's U.S. citizenship, the birth certificate shall show the true country and date of birth but will not contain any notation regarding citizenship of the registrant. For such registration, the department shall require proof of parental U.S. citizenship and of Pennsylvania residence.