Fact #1: Pennsylvania makes the adoption process straightforward and easy to understand.
Pennsylvania’s website, www.adoptpakids.org, provides you with all the information you’ll need about adoption in this state in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. On the home page, there is a carousel of featured children that rotates through five different families of children waiting for forever homes and brief descriptions of these children. And right there on the main page is the heading, “BEGIN THE PROCESS.” Right away, you can “learn how to get started and what to expect as you become a foster parent or adoptive parent.” Click on the “FOSTER PARENTS” or “ADOPTIVE PARENTS” tab, and you’ll be on your way to learning about just what you need to do to get the ball rolling.
Fact #2: SWAN is Pennsylvania’s secret ingredient to successful adoption services.
Just kidding. It’s definitely NOT a secret, but it is a vital ingredient! The Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) is an integral partnership between Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE; see Fact #3), adoption agencies both public and private, organizations, advocates, judges, the legal community, and foster and adoptive parents. SWAN’s goal is to “build a better collaborative adoption process in Pennsylvania.” SWAN directly serves children who are currently in the custody of county agencies, working to expedite the finding of a permanent home for each child.
Fact #3: PAE is a hub for “All Things Pennsylvania Adoption.”
The Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE) is a centralized web resource that covers pretty much all aspects of adoption in this state. PAE was established in 1979 with the aim of helping county agencies find adoptive families for Pennsylvania’s waiting children. The important thing to note here is that PAE is not an adoption agency—think of it as more of a connection point. That is, connecting families interested in adopting a child with waiting children. PAE is a primary component of SWAN (see Fact #2) because of the multiple parties it serves—counties, SWAN affiliate agencies, and the public. It also interfaces with other state and national adoption exchanges.
Fact #4: Pennsylvania’s #MeetTheKids videos will simultaneously melt your heart and spur you to action.
The #MeetTheKids video archive. SWAN gave 12 waiting children the opportunity to create their own documentary-style film about themselves and their desire to find a permanent home. On one video, 13-year-old Amber, a waiting child, says, “I want them to know that I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m caring, and I’m kind—and I really want a family.” On another video, 18-year-old Ronazjha speaks of her reality, which is also the reality of many older waiting children. “The only 3 constant people who have ever been in my life are a judge, an attorney/guardian ad litem, and a psychologist,” explains Ronazjha, who is still seeking a forever family but will age out soon. The narrator of the video explains, “Ronazjha wants to go to college and become a lawyer or a judge so she can help older kids who get stuck in the foster care system.”
Fact #5: Speaking of “5”—here are 5 things you should know about adoption in PA (more detailed information can be found at http://www.adoptpakids.org/FiveThings.aspx):
- You’re more qualified than you think! You do NOT have to be financially “well off” to adopt.
- You may be the right family for a kid who needs a home.
- Adoption is not necessarily expensive: Fees vary greatly, depending on a variety of factors.
- There are post-adoption services and subsidies to help you.
- The SWAN adoption process consists of many phases—meaning, unexpected delays are likely. It’s time to put on that patience cap! The end result—a family, YOUR family, formed through adoption—is well worth the wait.
Fact #6: Pennsylvania’s online photo album of waiting kids is a must-see.
Probably the most appealing aspect of Pennsylvania’s “Adopt PA Kids” website is the online Photo Album that features photos and details about waiting children in Pennsylvania. There are many of all ages. Currently, there are 326 pages of photos, with 16 photos to a page. That’s a lot of children in Pennsylvania seeking forever families. View the video on the AdoptPAKids YouTube channel, and find out what these kids think their potential future parents should know.
Fact #7: There’s lots of adoption assistance in Pennsylvania. So, be sure to educate yourself on all the options—and apply, apply, apply! Here’s a great site where you can get started: http://www.adoptpakids.org/AdoptionQA.aspx
Fact #8: Birth parent consent in Pennsylvania. Regarding birth parent consent in Pennsylvania, for the birth mother, it’s 30 days after signing the termination of parental rights (TPR). For the birth father, it’s 30 days after signing or after birth, whichever is later. If fraud or duress can be proven, this time period may be increased to 60 days.
Fact #9: Adoption.com is a great resource—use it! Here’s a great article about adoption in Pennsylvania: Check it out! https://adoption.com/pennsylvania