Understanding Your Adoption Rights

If You Give Your Baby Up for Adoption, Can You Get it Back?

“If you give up your baby for adoption, can you get them back?” “Can you unadopt a kid?” “Can I give my baby up for adoption and get her back later?” “What if I choose adoption then change my mind later?” These questions all revolve around understanding your adoption rights as a birth mother. They are common questions. Do not feel ashamed if you have these questions; it is important to ask them so that you can understand the answer. The simple answer to these questions is: you can change your mind about placing your baby up for adoption throughout the adoption process until the revocation period is over.

What Does “Voluntary Termination” Mean?

In every adoption, the birth parents’ rights must be legally terminated before a child can be adopted into a new family. Voluntarily terminating your parental rights means that you consent to give up all the parental rights you have for your child.  Adoption agencies and adoption professionals can help a woman navigate through this process, and take her from being a parent to a birth parent. Voluntary termination of parental rights mean that a person is making the choice to have their rights terminated.

What Is “Involuntary Termination”?

Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when the state and perhaps other child protective agencies get involved in child welfare cases involving neglectful or abusive parenting, and take all parental rights away from one or both parents without consent. Once involuntary termination has occurred, a parent cannot get their rights back to their child.

Why Is the Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Termination Important?

There is a significant difference between voluntary and involuntary termination of parental rights. It is important to understand that there is a difference. Adoption is chosen by women who are voluntarily terminating their rights, and that is what this article will delve deeper into so that a woman can understand her rights as a parent who is voluntarily choosing adoption. A parent whose rights are being terminated involuntarily usually will not have the option to choose adoption for their child or select their child’s adoptive parents.

What is “Revocation” and What Does It Have to do with Adoption?

Revocation is defined in legal terms as “the official cancellation of a decree, decision, or promise.” In layman’s terms, revocation means “changing one’s mind regarding a decision they have made.” In adoption, revocation means to cancel the adoption. A woman who is choosing adoption may change her mind throughout the adoption process, and all the way through placement up until the revocation period has ended. Revocation periods are individually determined by every state, so make sure you are knowledgeable on the revocation period outlined by the state your adoption is being governed by.

How Much Time Do I Have to Change My Mind?

There are three factors that determine when an adoption decision becomes final. These factors, once all fulfilled, determine when a woman can no longer change her mind regarding choosing adoption. Once all three of these steps have taken place, the adoption is permanent, and only under very specific circumstances can a woman become the legal parent of the child again.

  1. The baby has been born.
  2. The legal paperwork consenting to adoption has been signed.
  3. The revocation period has passed.

What Happens If I Change My Mind Later?

The only way that you can potentially regain parental rights after you give up a child for adoption and the revocation period (if applicable) has passed is by one of the following occurring:

  • Fraud or coercion was involved
  • The state (or other governing body) determines that revocation is in the best interest of the child
  • The birth parents and adoptive parents mutually agree to revocation

It is VERY difficult to prove the above or have one of the above occur after choosing adoption.

Once the period of revocation has passed, a birth mother cannot legally get her child back except under VERY EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES. I say this to make sure you are positive about your decision regarding adoption in hopes that you will not face regrets regarding the choice later.

What Rights Do I Have in the Adoption Process?

Throughout the process of adoption, the woman choosing adoption has all the rights to her child and with the adoption process. From the very beginning of making an adoption decision all the way through the end of the revocation period, the woman has control over every decision that is made.

The decision to place a child for adoption belongs to the legal parent, or the woman who is choosing adoption. It is up to the woman choosing adoption to create and execute an adoption plan. The most important aspect of the adoption plan is choosing the family that the child will be placed with. It is up to the woman choosing adoption to remain in control of this decision. It is also the right of the woman to change her mind regarding choosing adoption up until the child is born, her consent has been signed and the revocation period has passed.

Birth mother rights in open adoption also extend throughout her baby’s childhood. In an open adoption, the birth mother and the adoptive parents will work together to determine what type of openness agreement the families will have. In a semi-open adoption, contact may be in the form of letter updates with pictures. In a very open adoption, the birth mother may be able to speak with the child on the phone and have in-person visits from time to time. While openness agreements are not legally binding in most cases, and they may need to be adjusted according to different familial needs, they function as a way for a relationship to continue to develop between a child and his or her birth mother or birth parents.

What Role do Adoption Professionals Play in Understanding Adoption Rights?

Adoption professionals can help you to determine your adoption rights. Whether you are looking at an open adoption or a closed adoption (in which there is no contact after placement between the adoptive family and the birth mother or birth parents), an adoption professional can help make sure you are versed appropriately on your adoption rights based on the state in which the adoption is taking place.

Use Your Resources and Educate Yourself

As a birth mother, there are plenty of resources available through adoption agencies and adoption professionals to help you understand your adoption rights. Be sure to take advantage of educating yourself and utilizing these services. The more informed you are, the more confident your decision-making processes will be. Also, you will find more resolve in your decision-making process when you understand exactly what you are doing.