Birth Parents Rights
A birth mother may choose to place her child for adoption any time after the baby has been born. However, the child remains the biological mother's and biological father's until their parental rights are ended.
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If the birth mother is married to a man other than the birth father, the husband also has rights which must be legally ended. Ending of these rights typically involves an attorney and/or an adoption agency.
Ending of Parental Rights
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 /place-child-adoption/ 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.