Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Foreign Adoption" OC Rules & Forms Proposed

On May 25, 2007, the PA Supreme Court's Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee published a set of proposed Orphans' Court Rules & related standard practice forms related to "foreign adoptions" for public comment. These Recommendations Published for Comment (PDF, 24 pages) are available here.

Adoption practice -- although not involving fiduciary funds -- has long been conducted before the Orphans' Court divisions of the common pleas courts. Indeed, that traditional judicial oversight role over adoptions and minors' matters is the very source of the name of this equitable division of the courts of common pleas.

Foreign adoption registrations, and also the completion of foreign adoptions that are not full & final, both fall within the jurisdiction of the Orphans’ Court Divisions (except in Philadelphia County, where jurisdiction is in the Family Court Division).

Such adoption matters, although family law in nature, can also be important in fiduciary administrations. I can think of a few situations:

  • Determination under the Probate, Estates & Fiduciaries Code as to proper intestate beneficiaries
  • Determination of persons in a class of beneficiaries or successors to beneficial interests under trust or will provisions
  • Entitlement to notice of legal proceedings in fiduciary matters
  • Nomination to serve (for an adult adopted person) in a fiduciary position, such as an estate administrator, a guardian, or a health care representative.
As to the recently proposed rules on "foreign adoptions", the "Introduction" to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking provides a background explanation:
The attached recommendation is in response to Act 96 of 2006, enacted July 7, 2006, effective September 5, 2006, amending Section 2908 of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, 23 Pa.C.S. § 2908, as it pertains to the completion of a foreign adoption which is not full and final, a process which the legislature has described as “readoption.”

“Readoption” process is described in 23 Pa. C.S. § 2908(e) as follows:
“The court shall develop a standard petition, a standard court order and instructions for their use for occasions when a child must be readopted to finalize the adoption. The clerk shall provide the adopting parent with the standardized information.”
Foreign adoption procedures pose complications for all states including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because they occur in the context of the laws of the country of the child’s origin and the federal law governing immigration and citizenship.

However, the involvement of the United States government in the immigration process provides some level of assurance to the states that certain minimum requirements have been met.

Before setting forth the various foreign adoption procedures, this Committee strongly recommends that all parties interested in the foreign adoption procedures should contact the relevant federal authorities and see the U.S.C.I.S. website for complete updated information.

The following explanation merely addresses the most common circumstances arising from foreign adoptions that are not completed prior to the child immigrating to the United States, and which are seen in the Orphans’ Court Division of the Courts of Common Pleas in this Commonwealth.
n summary, the OC PRC "is proposing new Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Rules 15.9 and 15.9.1 and conforming amendments to Rule 15.8(b) and new model forms pertaining to Rules 15.9 and 15.9.1." More specifically, the subject of the proposed Recommendation is the procedure for completion of the adoption of a foreign-born child with "IR-4 Visa" status.
The Committee has reviewed Act 96, existing statewide and local Orphans’ Court Rules and the relevant federal legislation to determine whether it is possible to prescribe a uniform procedure for completion of foreign adoptions.
Any comments on the proposed rule change and practice forms should be sent, no later than
Saturday, July 15, 2007, to:

Dean R. Phillips, Esq., Chief Counsel
Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee
5035 Ritter Road, Suite 700
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Comments also can be sent to the following email address:

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