Proposed Changes to PA Orphans’ Court Rules Seek to Make the Second-Parent Adoption Process Consistent Statewide

By Tara R. Pfeifer, WLP Staff Attorney

In October 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee published proposed new and amended adoption rules for public comment.  The Rules Committee explained that the proposed amendments were intended, in part, to “implement and facilitate the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Adoption of R.B.F. and R.C.F., 803 A.2d 1195 (Pa. 2002).”   The In re R.B.F. decision recognized and secured the right to second-parent adoption in Pennsylvania.  A second-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by the domestic partner of the child’s unmarried parent resulting in an intact family in which the child has two legal parents.

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, Susan Frietsche and Tara R. Pfeifer of the Women’s Law Project (WLP) submitted comments on the proposed rule amendments to the Orphans’ Court Rules Committee. Historically, WLP has played a pivotal part in advocating for and litigating second-parent adoption rights in Pennsylvania, including our key role in In re R.B.F.  Accordingly, WLP has a longstanding interest in ensuring that the benefits of adoption are equally available to the children of same-sex couples as to the children of opposite-sex couples.

In its comments, WLP commended the Committee for proposing amendments that strive to make second-parent adoptions a uniform and just process across the Commonwealth.  WLP noted that without statewide consistency in the second-parent adoption process, county-by-county
variations in practice exist and disparate treatment of second-parent adoption petitioners may result.  WLP’s comments included suggestions intended to further concretize best practices for second-parent adoptions.

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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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