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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 20, 2017 04:36 PM
From: Representative Scott A. Petri
To: All House members
Subject: Adoption Package – Termination of Parental Rights
In the near future, I will reintroduce my legislation designed to streamline and expedite the procedures for terminating parental rights in the course of the legal process to adopt a child in Pennsylvania. This legislation, previously HB 1525, is part of a package of legislation that is being reintroduced to reform Pennsylvania’s adoption laws and improve the adoption process. HB 1525 was unanimously reported from both the Children and Youth Committee and the House last session.

My legislation amends Section 2503 of Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of Pa. C.S. by requiring the courts to set a hearing date no more than 20 days after the birth parent(s) file with the court a petition voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights pursuant to Sections 2501 and 2502 of Title 23. The petitioner may request a later hearing date; however, it cannot exceed 30 days after the filing of the petition. Current law requires the court to set a hearing date no less than 10 days after the relinquishment petition is filed, but does not stipulate a deadline for scheduling such a hearing.

In addition to expediting the adoption hearing, my legislation amends Title 23 by:
  • Providing procedures by which a putative father is notified of a scheduled adoption hearing and is informed that his parental rights can be terminated if he does not appear at the hearing or file a written objection to the termination of his parental rights.
  • Defining “putative father” in statute as “an alleged birth father of a child conceived or born out of wedlock whose parental status has not been legally determined.”
  • Defining “diligent search” as “a search made to identify and locate a parent or putative father for the purpose of providing notice in an adoption proceeding.” The definition further enumerates 11 specific inquiries, and related sources, that must be conducted in order for the search to qualify as a “diligent search”, as well as allowing the courts to identify further qualifying sources.
  • Adding a new section that requires proof of a diligent search and provides notice of hearing by publication in cases where the identity or whereabouts of a birth parent or putative father are unknown.
  • Further defining the validity of the consent to adoption with respect to both the birth mother and putative father, and further defining the procedure to challenge the validity of consent.
  • Permitting a birth mother, father, or putative father to execute a waiver of notice requirements related to all legal proceedings concerning the child.

I believe this legislation, as well as the other bills in the aforementioned legislative package, will significantly improve Pennsylvania’s adoption laws and make it easier for adoptive parents to provide stable and loving homes for children in need of them.

Please consider cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB57