Birth Parents Rights
If you are considering adopting a child it is very important for you to understand that both the birth mother and the birth father have parental rights and until these rights are ended, their child is still theirs.
Ending of Parental Rights
A birth mother may place her child for adoption anytime after the baby has been born. However, regardless of where the child is and who has physical custody of the child, the child is still the biological mother's and biological father's until their parental rights (different from custodial rights) are ended. If the birth mother is married to a man other than the birth father, the husband also has rights which must be legally ended.
This ending of parental rights is called the termination, relinquishment, or surrender, of parental rights. Termination of parental rights ends the legal parent-child relationship. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. Judges make decisions about terminating parental rights based on State laws. Once the relationship has been terminated, the child is legally free to be adopted. Remember a child cannot have two sets of legal parents so the rights of the biological and legal parents must be ended before you can adopt the child.
Sometimes both biological parents rights are ended involuntarily and other times one of the biological parents voluntarily ends their parental rights while the other parent has their rights ended involuntarily. However, if either the birth mother or birth father are desirous of raising the child and are willing to act on this desire, under normal circumstances an adoption cannot take place.
Additionally,if the parental rights are not ended properly, it could result in a disruption and you could end up having to return the child you hoped to adopt. With this in mind we strongly recommend that you used a licensed adoption agency or a lawyer who specializes in adoption.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
The time frames and procedures for the voluntary ending of parental rights are different in every state and even within a state they vary depending on the level of cooperation of
both the birth mother and birth father, the ages of the biological parents, the other state(s) that may have jurisdiction, etc.
In some states the parental rights can be voluntarily ending almost immediately after the baby is born while in other states ending of the parental rights requires the passage of 30 or more days and a hearing before a judge.
The child adoption agency you select or the adoption attorney you work with will be able to help you address the ending of parental rights. You may want to read the state laws under the heading of "termination of parental rights", of the state in which the birth father and birth mother reside. This can be done on this website at State Adoption Laws or on the website ChildAdoptionLaws.com. or the Child Welfare Information Gateway link State Statutes.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
The involuntary ending of parental rights is done when the court determines that the child cannot safely be returned home because of risk of harm presented by the parent or the inability or unwillingness of the parent to provide for the child's basic needs. As with a voluntary termination of parental rights, the involuntary termination of parental rights varies in time and process from state to state. Generally the most frequent grounds for the involuntary termination of parental rights include:
abandonment of the child
parental abuse or neglect of the child or other children in the home
mental illness or deficiency of the parent(s)
alcohol or drug Induced incapacity of the parent
parental failure to support or maintain contact with the child
parental commission of a sex crime or other acts of violence against the child.
Additional Help and Resources
Additional resources concerning parental rights include the following articles by the the Child Welfare Information Gateway Termination
of Parental Rights and Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights.
Adoption Services has extensive experience with both the voluntary and involuntary termination of parental rights. We are able to help you with a child adoption regardless of the state in which you reside.
If you need or want some specific personal advice contact your state child welfare agency or state adoption contact. You can also contact Dr. Vince Berger, a PhD psychologist and adoption professional with over 40 years of experience.
Why You Need an Adoption Consultant
There are many risks when you go to adopt a child including losing a child after you have already taken them home (referred to as a disruption), loosing all of the money you have invested in the adoption if the birth mother changes her mind, or finding that there are previously unknown or undisclosed fees that may appear. Dr Berger has helped thousands of adopting families with domestic adoptions and international adoptions and he is available to assist you no matter what type of adoption you chose to pursue and regardless of whether you work with an adoption agency, facilitator or adoption attorney. He can help you save your time, effort and money in helping you to decide what routes to take and the best way to achieve your goal of adopting a child. He can help reduce your risks and potential pain and can help you avoid many of the problems and pitfalls found in the adoption process. You can read and download his free adoption manual or, for more information on how he can help you, please visit his Adoption Consultant link.