For same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, adoption can be an exciting, yet confusing process. The good news is that these couples can find success in welcoming a child into their family, but it often requires a sound understanding of the law. This week, then, we’ll take a quick look at the interplay between adoption and the termination of parental rights, particularly as they pertain to step-parent adoptions.

The law only recognizes two parents of a child. As a result, step-parent adoptions often face difficulties when dealing with the child’s other biological parent. In some instances, that parent may simply consent to adoption by step-parent, thereby severing his or her relationship with his or her biological child. In other instances, the parent’s parental rights may be involuntarily terminated. This can be a contentious issue that requires litigation over that parent’s fitness to care for the child in question.

Negotiating consent or voluntary termination of a parent’s parental rights can be difficult. However, in some instances the noncustodial biological parent is happy to be out of the picture to alleviate any child support obligations.

Additionally, many absent parents simply don’t challenge an involuntary termination of their parental rights. Even in these instances, though, potential adoptive parents need to be prepared with the evidence needed to meet applicable legal standards.

There are many legalities involved with the adoption process. For example, adoption consents must conform to very specific requirements laid out in the law, and children over the age of 12 must also consent to the adoption. Any errors, even those that are seemingly minor, can have significant ramifications that stall or completely derail the adoption. To avoid any of these missteps and to ensure that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible, same-sex couples in Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities may want to work closely with a family law attorney of their choosing.