Adopting a child, or having your parental rights to your child terminated, is something that will likely change your life forever. At Littner, Deschler & Littner in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we recognize the emotional significance of these moments and can assist you in navigating the often-complicated legal process involved. Our experienced adoption attorneys can take you through the process step by step to ensure that you understand your rights and how best to protect them.In the case of adoption, we can help make sure all the necessary documents and court filings are in proper order to guard against your rights as an adoptive parent being invalidated in the future. Further, whether you are the birth parent or adoptive parent, the legal system recognizes that you may want the birth parents to continue to have contact with the child in the future. The law permits the formation of agreements between the birth parent and adoptive parent so that the birth parent may have some form of contact with the child as he or she grows up.
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Indeed, under recent amendments to Pennsylvania’s Adoption Act, an agency or anyone representing the parties in an adoption must provide notice to a prospective adoptive parent, a birth parent and a child who can be reasonably expected to understand that a prospective adoptive parent and a birth relative of a child have the option to enter into a voluntary agreement for continuing contact or communication. A “birth relative” is defined as “[a] parent, grandparent, stepparent, sibling, uncle or aunt of the child’s birth family, whether the relationship is by blood, marriage or adoption.” Those individuals involved in an adoption must understand that the notice requirement must be complied with.
The termination of someone’s parental rights can occur through a voluntary or involuntary process. Pennsylvania law provides for nine separate grounds on which a parent’s rights can be involuntarily terminated. Such grounds include:
•· The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties
•· Repeated abuse or neglect by the parent
•· The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest
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Regardless of whether the termination process is voluntary or involuntary, it is critical that you know what your rights are so that you can protect yourself and your child. Ignorance of the law can result in you forever losing your parental rights. If you have questions in this area of the law, contact an experienced family law attorney at Littner, Deschler & Littner in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or call us at 610-295-5328.