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Adopting: How the adoption process begins

You've been wanting to grow your family, and you decided that adoption is right for you. What are the steps you need to take next?

The adoption process may be daunting, but with your attorney's help, you can navigate the process and work toward expanding your family. There are actually two parts of the adoption process. First, the child who is up for adoption is worked with to prepare them emotionally and legally for adoption. Next, the prospective family is prepared in the same way, helping you get your legal paperwork completed and home ready for the adoption to be completed.

A child placed into the system either voluntarily or by court order will have several potential outcomes. He or she could be returned to his family, placed with a relative, placed with a legal custodian, put in a permanent living arrangement, or adopted. Initially, the court will work to work out the problem that resulted in the child going to placement. If the resolution can't be completed in a timely manner, adoption may be the next step. Before that, the biological parents must terminate their legal relationship with the child, which can either be a voluntary or involuntary action.

As a prospective parent, you might already have an idea of the child you want to adopt. This is particularly true if you've fostered a child you're working to adopt now. If you don't know the age or gender of a child you want to adopt, that's okay, too. If you're looking to adopt an infant, a private agency may be the best option, but for older children or those with special needs, working with the county agency is effective. In any case, you'll need to put your wishes forward, so the agencies can help pair the right child with your family.

Source: Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, "Be an Adoptive Parent," accessed July 07, 2016

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