Consent to Adoption - Pennsylvania

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Who Must Consent to an Adoption

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, §§ 2711; 2504

Consent to an adoption shall be required of the following:

  • The spouse of the adopting parent, unless he or she joins in the adoption petition
  • The parents or surviving parent of a child who has not reached age 18
  • The guardian of an incapacitated person to be adopted
  • The guardian or custodian of a child under age 18 whenever the child has no parent whose consent is required

The consent of the husband of the mother shall not be necessary if it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the husband of the natural mother is not the natural father of the child.

If a putative father fails to file a petition, appear at the hearing, or file a written objection to the termination and has not filed a claim of paternity, the court may enter a decree terminating the parental rights of the putative father.

Consent of Child Being Adopted

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, § 2711

A child who is age 12 or older must consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent is not Needed

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, §§ 2713; 2714; 2511

The consent of the parent is not required when any of the following apply:

  • The person to be adopted is age 18 or older.
  • The child is under age 18 and has no parent living whose consent is required.
  • The parental rights of the parent have been terminated.
  • The court finds that grounds exist for involuntary termination under § 2511.

The rights of a parent to a child may be terminated when any of the following applies to the parent:

  • Has refused or failed to perform parental duties
  • Has harmed the child through repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, or neglect
  • Is the presumptive but not the natural father of the child
  • Is unknown or cannot be found and does not claim the child within 3 months after the child is found
  • Has a child in out-of-home care and cannot or will not remedy those conditions that led to the removal or placement of the child within a reasonable period of time
  • In the case of a newborn child, 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, and has failed for a period of 4 months to make reasonable efforts to maintain substantial and continuing contact with the child or to support the child
  • Is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest
  • Has not remedied conditions that led to the removal of the child, 12 months or more have elapsed since the child's removal, and termination of parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child
  • Has been convicted of criminal homicide or aggravated assault, and the victim was a child of the parent
  • Has committed sexual abuse against the child or another child of the parent
  • Is required to register as a sexual offender under Pennsylvania law or to register with a sexual offender registry in another jurisdiction or foreign country

When Consent Can Be Executed

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, § 2711

No consent shall be valid if it was executed prior to or within 72 hours after the birth of the child. A putative father may execute consent at any time after receiving notice of the expected or actual birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, §§ 2501-2503; 2711(d)

When a child under age 18 has been in the care of an agency for 3 days, or the agency has received a written notice executed by the parent of the intent to transfer to it custody of the child, the parent of the child may petition the court for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights and duties with respect to the child. The written consent of a parent or guardian of a petitioner who has not reached age 18 shall not be required. The consent of the agency to accept custody of the child until the child is adopted shall be required.

When any child under age 18 has been in the exclusive care of an adult who has filed a report of intention to adopt for 3 days, the parent of the child may petition the court for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights to the child. The adults having care of the child shall file a separate consent to accept custody of the child.

Upon presentation of a petition to relinquish parental rights, the court shall hold a hearing within 10 days. The petitioner must appear at the hearing. After the hearing, the court may enter a decree of termination of parental rights.

If the parent of the child has executed consent, upon petition by an intermediary or by the adoptive parent, the court shall hold a hearing to confirm a consent to an adoption. The original consent to the adoption shall be attached to the petition.

The consent shall include the date and place of its execution and names and addresses and signatures of at least two persons who witnessed its execution and their relationship to the consenter. The consent of an incarcerated parent of an adoptee may be witnessed by a correctional facility employee. Any consent witnessed by a correctional facility employee shall list the address of the correctional facility on the consent.

In lieu of two witnesses, a consent may be acknowledged before a notary public.

Revocation of Consent

Citation: Cons. Stat. Ch. 23, § 2711

The revocation of a consent shall be in writing and shall be served upon the agency or adult to whom the child was relinquished. The following apply:

  • For a consent executed by a birth father or a putative father, the consent is irrevocable for up to 30 days after the birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever occurs later.
  • For a consent executed by a birth mother, the consent is irrevocable for up to 30 days after the execution of the consent.

An individual who executed a consent to an adoption may challenge the validity of the consent only by filing a petition alleging fraud or duress within the earlier of the following timeframes:

  • 60 days after the birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever occurs later
  • 30 days after the entry of the adoption decree

A consent to an adoption may be invalidated only if the alleged fraud or duress is proven by:

  • A preponderance of the evidence in the case of consent by a person age 21 or younger
  • Clear and convincing evidence in all other cases