Become an Adoptive Parent

You can you give a child the stability and love they deserve by providing a permanent and loving home.


Adoptive parents provide love, support, and help a child reach their full potential by providing a safe and stable home

The Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network’s (SWAN) mission is to support and enhance timely services for children in Pennsylvania who want to be adopted and to provide post-adoption support services to families.

There are two sides to the adoption process: preparing the child legally and emotionally for adoption and preparing the prospective family. 

The Prospective Parents

It is fair to say that all adoptive parents enter the process with different expectations and levels of knowledge.

Some prospective adoptive parents already know the child they want to adopt especially In the case of foster parents hoping to adopt their foster children or relatives of children available for adoption. Other parents do not have a particular child in mind and need more information before they can get started.

Parents who wish to adopt an infant will generally seek the services of a private adoption agency, while parents interested in adopting a child with special needs or an older child will most likely be working with a county agency or a SWAN affiliate agency.

The Children

Currently, more than 3,000 children are waiting to be adopted in Pennsylvania. If parental rights have been terminated and no adoptive family is identified, the child is registered with the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange where adoption matching services are provided.

Entering the System

A child might be voluntarily placed into the system by parents who are having difficulty caring for their children or children might be taken out of their homes by a court order. Ultimately each of these children will do one or more of the following:

  • Return to their families when the problems are resolved
  • Be placed with a willing relative
  • Be placed with a permanent legal custodian
  • Be placed in a planned permanent living arrangement
  • Be adopted by someone like you

After the child is placed into the system, the county agency must first work with the child's family to resolve the issues that led to placement. If a timely resolution is not possible, the agency can recommend that a child be considered for adoption. A judge will then hold a hearing to decide if adoption is the best course of action for the welfare of the child.

Parental Rights

Before a child can be considered available for adoption, parental rights must be terminated, meaning that the legal relationship between the biological parent(s) and child is ended. Termination can be done voluntarily (if both biological parents agree) or involuntarily when the agency is able to prove parental abuse, neglect, or incapacity that cannot or will not be remedied.


Waiting Kids

Meet Pennsylvania kids looking for their permanent family.

The Adoption Process

General information on the steps involved in adopting a child.

Pennsylvania has numerous agencies licensed to provide quality adoption services. You may check the Agency List to find agencies in your local area.

After selecting an agency, you will be invited to complete an application to begin the adoption process. Most applications will gather information about your family composition and background as well as the characteristics of the child(ren) you would like to adopt. Adoption agencies may invite you to attend an orientation session before completing your application. The orientation process describes realistic expectations of adopting a child from the foster care system.

The Family Profile is a document created from a series of meetings between you and an adoption professional. These meetings will give you an opportunity to gain better insight into adopting a child from the foster care system and welcoming a child into your current family. Your family must be approved by an adoption agency before the matching process can begin.

The approved Family Profile is used by the agency to share information about your family with agencies responsible for children awaiting adoption. It is recommended that families with an approved Family Profile register on the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange (PAE). All families who have Family Profiles provided by SWAN are registered by the agency that completes the Family Profile. PAE routinely reviews the characteristics of families and children and notifies their agencies when a suggested match is identified. Agencies also try to match children and families in their local recruitment efforts.

When you have been tentatively selected by a county agency to adopt a child, you will get a chance to meet the child and spend time together to determine if the suggested match is a good one for both your family and the child.

At this point, the child moves in with their prospective adopted family.

Agencies normally plan a six month period after placement for the child and family to begin to build a stable relationship before finalizing the adoption. During that time, an adoption worker will visit regularly with the family to offer support and assistance.

If the placement continues to be positive, a request is submitted to the court for a hearing. Several legal steps must be addressed such as a verification that the child is legally available for adoption, the agency with custody will consent to the adoption, etc. At the hearing, the judge reviews information about the child and family and may approve the adoption.

Find an Agency

Local adoption agencies can provide quality adoption services. Check to find one in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Children enter the child welfare system (foster care) in all age ranges. The majority of the waiting children who are available for adoption tend to be age 10 or older.

Most of the children available for adoption are considered “special needs children.” Special needs is defined as children over the age of five, children who are a member of a sibling group that needs to be adopted together, or children with disabilities.  

Prospective adoptive family’s complete an application and undergo an initial screening. After the initial screening, families must complete an adoptive family profile, also known as a home study. Prospective adoptive families will need to work with their local county children and youth agency or a licensed adoption agency to start the process. Call SWAN at 1-800-585-7926 to begin the adoption process.  

Adoption through child welfare system has minimal costs. There are some fees that may be reimbursable and some fees that may be covered by the county.  

Families may be eligible for subsidy and adoption assistance to help with the expenses of raising their child depending on a variety of factors. Pennsylvania’s SWAN program offers post-adoption services to ensure families are provided the support they need. SWAN services are available to all families (whether or not they adopted a child from foster care) and to families who have provided permanent homes to children from the Pennsylvania child welfare system through Permanent Legal Custodianship (PLC) or Formal Kinship Care. Formal Kinship Care and PLC families are those who provide permanency to a Pennsylvania foster child. SWAN post-permanency services include: case advocacy, respite, and support groups.

Contact the PA Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network's (SWAN)

Contact SWAN for information on how to begin the adoption process.


Call the SWAN Helpline to talk to a SWAN representative.

Call 1-800-585-7926

Email SWAN

Email SWAN if you have questions about the adoption process.

Send an email