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How to handle a familial adoption in Pennsylvania

When people think of adoption, they often imagine someone taking in a child whom they never met and with whom they have no relationship, which certainly does happen.

However, many adoptions that take place in the United States involve people with a pre-existing familial relationship.

It is common for grandparents as well as aunts and uncles to adopt children if their parents die or the state terminates a parent's rights due to neglect or abuse. Instead of going into a stranger's home, the child can live with someone they already know and trust, which can make the change easier for them.

Even if you are adopting a child from your own family, you will find that the process is somewhat involved. The more that you understand about adoption, the easier it will be for you to assume custody of your grandchild, niece or nephew.

The state wants to validate your parenting ability

The first and most important step in the adoption process in Pennsylvania is demonstrating your ability to care for the child you hope to adopt. Pennsylvania wants to make sure that they place children in safe and loving homes. To even apply, you must be at least 21 years old.

Beyond that, you will likely need to complete a thorough background check and attend special training, known as parent preparation. In these parenting courses, you will learn about techniques for discipline, communication and other important tasks parents must perform. Even if you have kids of your own, the training is mandatory.

Prospective adoptive parents typically also need to complete a physical test. Finally, the state will send a worker out to evaluate the home and make sure that it is clean, safe and appropriate for children.

Be ready for the work that adoption requires

Some people become so fixated on the complicated process of adoption that they never stop to think about the difficulty they will face once they succeed. Whether their parents lost parental rights or died, the children you bring into your home likely have trauma they need to process. They will need your love and support, as well as potentially requiring professional counseling and therapy to process what they have experienced so far in life.

Even a child who will eventually love you and be grateful for the support you offer may become angry, withdrawn or violent when they first move into your home. You may also require a support group or a counselor to handle the transition.

Connecting with the resources you need and keeping yourself focused on the long-term goal of helping this child succeed at life will make adoption and its aftermath easier for you and the child you open your home to through adoption.

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