How do you adopt a child you ve been raising?
They need a lawyer familiar with family law to help them with the process of terminating his father's parental rights. The child will have to go to court at the time of his adoption, so there is no way to continue to cover this up, nor should they. As an adoptee, I find it very upsetting when parents lie to their children about their original parents. It *always* goes badly when the fact of the adoption is revealed later in life. The *only* way to do it is to have it be a normal part of the child's life from the very beginning. Since they did not do this, they are going to have to explain it to him now. If your brother does not adopt him and something were to happen to the mother such as an accident which killed her, he would have no legal right to retain custody of the child, so if the child agrees to the adoption, this will protect their family and keep them together in the event of something like that.
In most states, in order to adopt a stepchild, you need to be married for a minimum amount of time. So right now, he can't adopt at all. (And I am left wondering how he's been raising this child for ten years but never bothered to marry the mom.) Beyond that, he needs a lawyer. Sure, he can represent himself, but he has to do things like get the biological father's rights terminated. A layman isn't going to be able to do that legally and without fraud.
They cannot do this without an attorney
You need a lawyer.
The birth father was not and is not involved in the child s life, he never showed up to the hospital and is not named on the birth certificate. *None of that matters. A court would have to terminate the bio father's rights in order for the child to be available for adoption. My brother is now engaged to the woman, the boy is for all intents and purposes, his son. *That's unfortunate. I mean, it's great that your brother has taken care of this boy as if he's his own, but he's NOT your brother's child. Why didn't he and the child's mother do something about this ten years ago? They want my bro to adopt him, but don t want the kid to know he s not biologically my brothers and don t want him involved in any courts if possible. *The child has a right to know who his biological father is. It's horrible that that information has been kept from him for his entire life. He WILL find out someday and it's a guarantee that he will be pissed. His "parents" have lied to him every day of his life. That's wrong. In order for the child to be adopted, the case will HAVE to go before a judge...and that won't happen until the bio dad's rights have been terminated.
It is not going to happen in the manner you describe. 1. The biological father MUST consent. That he has not been identified on the birth certificate only means that you must also first go through the process of legally identifying him, probably DNA tests, and then getting him to consent. 2. If the biological father will not consent, the court can be petitioned to remove his rights. But, he must still be identified. 3. A homestudy would occur, and the child would be a part of that - being asked about homelife, relationship with the potential adoptive father, whether he consents to being adopted, etc. I would also caution against trying to hide this from the child. Even if you somehow were able to, with DNA testing being what it is now the child will likely find out in the future and be angry that he was lied to.
If they can't afford a lawyer, it's not going to happen. If they're serious about this, they can't afford NOT to get a lawyer.
Your brother has a right to represent himself in court. Adoptions usually start with an Adoption Petition. But to write it and pursue it successfully in court he needs to teach himself PA adoption law and procedure and rules of court. He'll also need a legal vocabulary and to learn legal research and writing. Nolo Press has books which might help a little.