Can I Reverse An Adoption?

Adoption is intended to place a child in a stable home with loving, nurturing parents. At times, however, an adoption may not always work out. Different processes exist to halt an adoption that has not yet been finalized versus reversing one that has been finalized. It also depends on the person who wishes to reverse the adoption.

Disruption of Adoption

In some cases, the decision to stop the adoption may occur before it is finalized. This may occur because the adoptive parent has decided not to go through with the adoption, or the adopted parents discover negative information about the child’s health, are not ready to be parents or for other reasons personal to the adoptive parents. If this occurs, the adoption agency is contacted by the party who wants to stop the adoption proceedings. Some paperwork must usually be filed, but there is usually not intervention made through the court in these situations.

Parties Who Can Reverse Adoption

Parties who can reverse an adoption usually include the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child being adopted. In order for an adoption to be reversed, a petition must usually be filed by one of these parties and the court must be convinced of a compelling reason to reverse or annul the adoption. This is usually weighed under the legal standard of the best interests of the child.

Reversal from Adoptive Parents

Before parents can adopt, they must usually go through an extensive pre-adoption screening process. They have also often dealt with years of difficulty conceiving their own children or trying to be placed with a child. Therefore, many adoptive parents are reluctant to give up the child after expending so much time, money and resources. However, if adoptive parents decide that the adoption has not worked out for them, they must usually file a petition with the court asking to annul or vacate the adoption. They must usually show why it is not in the child’s best interests to continue the adoptive relationship.

Reversal by Adoptee

An adopted child may wish to have his or her adoption vacated for a variety of reasons. Some may wish to be emancipated from the adoptive parents, wishing to act and be treated as adults under the law. They may wish to change this status when they are natural adults due to poor relationships with the adoptive parents or because they wish to reestablish contact with their birth parents. In some situations, the adopted child finds a placement that is better suited for him or her. A new adoption process may commence. If the adoption is approved, the old adoption will no longer have legal power.

Reversal from Birth Parents

Birth parents may wish to reverse an adoption so that they can regain their parental rights. This is generally the most difficult way to reverse an adoption. In some states, it is impossible. In jurisdictions where this is even allowed, the birth parent must usually provide evidence to show that there has been an extraordinary improvement in the birth parents’ ability to care for the child.

Revocation of Consent

The birth parents must provide clear and concise consent in order to make the adoption final. Each state has a specific timeframe in which the parent can revoke consent to an adoption. In some states, this is as few as three days and other states allow one year or until the child reaches a certain age. There are exceptions to the general guidelines depending on how the adoption was processed.

Even if this time limit has passed, consent can be revoked in some situations. One exception is if the consent was based on duress or fraud. If this is the case, the consent is null and void. Consent requires a voluntary relinquishment of rights.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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