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The adoption process when a biological parent is unknown

You love your step child like they were your own biological child. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law you likely have no legal right to make decisions for them. This includes where they go to school, medical and religious decisions and other important choices. This can be changed, though. If you and the child’s biological parent choose to pursue adoption, you can legally become the child’s other parent.

Something many adopting parents do not know is that if the other biological parent is unknown, then there is an added wrinkle in the adoption process. Some parents try to sidestep resolving this wrinkle but doing so only invites potential future problems should the other parent appear.

Conduct due diligence

It is in the best interests of any parent preparing to adopt a step child to conduct a search for the unknown biological parent. This may sound peculiar, but it is one of the best ways to create legal grounds that will block the unknown parent from claiming ownership of the child if they unexpected arrive on the doorstep.

An effective way to conduct a diligent search is to seek special court permission to advertise notice of your intent to adopt the child. Publishing the notice in at least two local print publications will go a long way should you need to prove that the unknown parent received adequate notice before they lost ownership.

Additional checks and balances

After giving public notice of your intent to adopt, you will also need three different background checks. The checks will need to be less than one year old and to have not expired by the date the adoption hearing occurs. You will need to present checks and clearances for:

  • Pennsylvania child abuse
  • Pennsylvania state police
  • FBI

It may also be required that you have an in-home inspection to verify that it is in the child’s best interests to continue living in the current home environment.

The process of adopting a child can take time and is often difficult, stressful and tedious. The results will make the speed bumps and wrinkles worth it, though. Having a family that is legally, as well as emotionally, knit together is an unparalleled feeling.

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