Before you can move forward with the adoption of a child, the child’s biological parents’ rights must be legally terminated. This can be done in one of two ways. Either the biological parents can voluntarily terminate their legal rights or their rights can be involuntarily terminated.

The process, of course, becomes more complicated if the biological parents are unwilling to voluntarily terminate their right. However, the involuntary termination of parental rights can occur in certain situations, such as when:

(1) The parent has failed to perform parental duties for at least six months prior to the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights.

(2) The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence and the parent cannot or will not remedy the situation.

(3) The parent is not the natural father of the child.

(4) The child is in the custody of an agency and the identity or whereabouts of the parent is unknown, cannot be found after a diligent search, and the parent does not claim the child within three months.

(5) The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency for a period of at least six months, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist, the parent cannot or will not remedy those conditions within a reasonable period of time, the services or assistance reasonably available to the parent are not likely to remedy the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child within a reasonable period of time and termination of parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

(6) In the case of a newborn child, the parent knows or has reason to know of the child’s birth, does not reside with the child, has not married the child’s other parent, has failed for a period of four months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to make reasonable efforts to maintain substantial and continuing contact with the child and has failed during the same four-month period to provide substantial financial support for the child.

(7) The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of rape or incest.

(8) The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency, 12 months or more have elapsed since the date of removal or placement, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist and termination of parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

(9) The parent has been convicted of certain crimes in which the victim was a child of the parent.

See 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 2511(a).

The petition for the involuntarily termination of parental rights must also be brought by someone with the standing to do so, must contain certain information, and must follow certain procedures. Accordingly, it is important to contact a Pennsylvania adoption lawyer for help. Our attorneys welcome your call today at (215) 523-6900 and look forward to helping you help the child whom you love.