Rule 15.14. Registration of Foreign Adoption Decree.
(a) Adopting parents may petition the court in the county of their residence to register a foreign adoption decree so that it will be given full and final effect in this Commonwealth. The petition and final decrees shall be in substantially the form approved by the Supreme Court. See Appendix of Forms to these Rules. As part of the Petition to Register Foreign Adoption Decree, an adopted childs name may be changed from that appearing on the foreign adoption decree if the adopted child has not yet attained 12 years of age.
(b) A foreign adoption decree previously registered or otherwise finalized by a court of this Commonwealth or of any other state may not be registered subsequently in another court of this Commonwealth.
(c) If the court determines that the foreign adoption decree can be registered, the court shall sign the final decree and shall direct the clerk to enter the date of the foreign adoption decree and identify the foreign court on the docket. The clerk shall send Form No. HD01273F, Certificate of Adoption of a Foreign-Born Child, and Form No. HD01275F, Statement of Citizenship and Residency, to the Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, along with a copy of U.S. Government Form N-560, Certificate of Citizenship, or a copy of the childs United States passport, or both, if the documents have been provided by the adopting parents. The clerk shall issue to the adopting parents a certificate of adoption in accordance with 23 Pa.C.S. § 2907.
(d) If the court determines that the foreign adoption decree cannot be registered, the adopting parents shall proceed as applicable under the provisions set forth in the Adoption Act, 23 Pa.C.S. § § 2101 et seq., Rule 15.15 (specific to the adoption of a foreign born child), and local rules.
(e) Adopting parents who are eligible to register the foreign adoption decree under this Rule may, for any reason, proceed under Rule 15.15.
Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2908(b), as amended by Act 96 of 2006, a set of forms, consisting of a Petition to Register Foreign Adoption Decree, Final Decrees approving and denying the Petition, and detailed Instructions for the pro se petitioners are set forth in the Appendix to these Rules.
The petition should be filed with the clerk of the Orphans Court, except in Philadelphia County, where it should be filed with the clerk of the Family Court Division. The petition and accompanying documents, including the final decree, are confidential and should be impounded and withheld from public inspection as provided in the Adoption Act, 23 Pa.C.S. § § 2906, 2907, 2908(f), and 29112937 and Rule 15.21.
The clerk shall make available to petitioner(s) the necessary Department of Health, Division of Vital Records forms: Form No. HD01273F, Certificate of Adoption of a Foreign-Born Child; and Form No. HD01275F, Statement of Citizenship and Residency.
A change of name from that appearing on the foreign adoption decree is permitted without the need to comply with the procedures of 54 Pa.C.S. § 702 if the adopted child is younger than 12 years of age. Cf. 23 Pa.C.S. § 2711(a)(1). If the foreign born adopted child is 12 years of age or older, then the adopted child and parent(s) either may proceed under Rule 15.15 or follow the procedures set forth in 54 Pa.C.S. § 702. In this latter situation, the adopted child and parent(s) would not be foreclosed by 54 Pa.C.S. § 702(b)(5)(ii) because the name change petition would not be in connection with any adoption proceeding as the foreign adoption is full and final and therefore completed.
A foreign born child who has been issued an IR-2, IR-3 or IH-3 United States Visa has had the adoption proceeding fully completed in the foreign country and the foreign adoption decree only needs to be registered here to be given the full force and effect of an adoption decree issued by this Commonwealth. However, situations may arise that necessitate proceeding under Rule 15.15 even though the foreign born child has been issued an IR-2, IR-3 or IH-3 United States Visa, such as the inclusion of an incorrect birth year on the foreign adoption decree, or other personal family reasons. Proceeding under Rule 15.15 is permitted; Rule 15.14 is not the exclusive means to obtain a Pennsylvania adoption decree and birth certificate for a foreign born adopted child.
Only one court, whether in this Commonwealth or another state, should exercise jurisdiction over the foreign adoption decree. Thus, if the foreign adoption decree has been registered or otherwise finalized in another state court, the adopting parents need not and should not register the foreign adoption decree in this Commonwealth under this Rule. In similar fashion, if the foreign adoption decree has been registered in this Commonwealth, and thereafter, another petitioner in this Commonwealth seeks to adopt this adopted individual, the subsequent proceeding will be a proceeding under the applicable provisions of the Adoption Act, 23 Pa.C.S. § § 2101 et seq. Such a situation could occur when the adopted child is to be adopted by a stepparent after divorce or death of the original adopting parents, or when, after termination of parental rights, the adopted child is to be adopted by Prospective Adoptive Parents different than the original adopting parents.
If the court determines that the foreign adoption is not a full and final adoption because the foreign born child has been issued an IH-4 or IR-4 Visa, the adopting parent(s) shall proceed under subdivision (d) of this Rule. See also Rule 15.15.
Notice of the opportunity to enter into a Contact Agreement is not required to be given to the birth parent(s) of a foreign born adopted child if such adopted child has been issued an IR-2, IR-3, or IH-3 United States Visa because the adoption was completed in the native country of the foreign born adopted child pursuant to the laws and rules of that country. Under Rule 15.14, the court is merely registering the foreign adoption decree, which evidences a completed adoption, and giving it the full force and effect of a Pennsylvania adoption.
The provisions of this Rule 15.14 added July 22, 2021, effective July 1, 2022, 51 Pa.B. 4267.
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