Jerner & Palmer, P.C. attorneys have particular experience in representing adopting parents who are LGBT individuals and couples. In families with LGBT parents, even when those parents are legally married, adoption is a necessary step in securing the rights of legal parentage.
Our attorneys represent clients with respect to private placement adoptions, kinship adoptions, second-parent adoptions, step-parent adoptions, agency adoption placements and finalizations, registrations of foreign adoptions and adult adoptions.
Because adoption procedures vary widely from state to state and county to county, it is critical to choose a law firm with the depth of experience necessary to anticipate and resolve issues as they arise. Our attorneys have finalized more than 600 adoptions and have experience with adoption courts in the following Pennsylvania counties: Philadelphia County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Lehigh County and Bucks County; and in the following New Jersey counties; Camden County, Mercer County, Gloucester County, Burlington County, Salem County, and Atlantic County.
Pennsylvania law allows an adult to adopt another adult. Adult adoptions do not require the termination of birth parents’ rights or the consent of birth parents. Therefore, adult adoption can be a good option for step-parents or foster parents who seek to adopt but who may have been unable to secure the consent of an adoptee’s birth parents when the adoptee was a minor. Adult adoption confers the many benefits that come with a legal parent-child relationship, including preferential inheritance tax rates.
Private adoptions are arranged directly between birth parents and adoptive parents, without an agency taking custody of the child or making the placement. Our attorneys work closely with an adoption counselor to provide support services and to obtain a detailed medical and social history from the birth parents. We also coordinate with hospital staff regarding discharge of the newborn directly to the adoptive parents, or coordinate a smooth transfer of custody if the adoptee is an older child.
Kinship adoptions are a type of private adoption where at least one of the adopting parent(s) is a family member to the child. Our attorneys handle all aspects of these adoptions, including engaging in initial discussions with birth parents, terminating the birth parents’ parental rights, obtaining a final adoption decree for the adoption parent(s) and obtaining an amended birth certificate naming the adoptive parent(s).
Interstate adoptions, which are adoptions where the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside in a different state than the home state of the child, are governed by and require approval under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
Our attorneys can represent either the adoptive parents or the birth parents in the ICPC process.
Jerner & Palmer, P.C. represents adopting parents to finalize agency adoption placements and has worked closely with many of the adoption agencies in the mid-Atlantic region.
When a child is adopted in another country, a registration of the foreign adoption or re-adoption in the United States may be necessary. This process can secure the child’s U.S. citizenship, will enable the child to receive a birth certificate from the state granting the registration or re-adoption, and will allow the child’s name to be legally changed. If an adopted child was issued an IR-3 Visa, this process is optional, but is still advisable. If an adopted child is issued an IR-4 Visa, the adoption must be finalized in the United States.
Step-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by the married spouse of the child’s legal parent. Second-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by the unmarried partner of the child’s legal parent. Once a step-parent adoption or second-parent adoption is completed, the adoptive parent has exactly the same rights and responsibilities with respect to the child as the first legal parent including the rights of inheritance, custody, child support and medical decision-making.
Since 2010, Pennsylvania adoption law has allowed birth parents and adoptive parents to enter into a voluntary agreement for continuing contact, even after an adoption is finalized. These are called Post Adoption Contact Agreements (PACAs). The contact can be as simple as sending annual school pictures or as extensive as quarterly in-person meetings and visitation. Each PACA is drafted to meet the unique needs for each family. Our attorneys can represent birth parents or adoptive parents to draft and obtain court approval of PACAs prior to a final adoption hearing.
Adopting parents may qualify to claim the federal Adoption Tax Credit, a dollar-for-dollar reduction against tax liability for adoption expenses such as court costs, attorney fees, agency fees (including home study fees), travel expenses (including meals and lodging), and other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child.
The Adoption Tax Credit is not available for all income levels and is not available for an individual adopting the legal child of a married spouse. Please consult with a tax professional to see whether you qualify for the adoption tax credit and which expenses are eligible.