Open Adoption and Birth Parents’ Rights Explained


Open adoption is where the adoptive family and biological parent(s) are open to meeting and communicating regularly. The latter is actively involved in choosing the family their child will be going into, and the child is aware of the adoption.

In an open adoption, the biological parents have legal rights to their child until the court, private party, or agency finalizes the adoption. Once the appropriate party has finalized the adoption, the birth parents have little to no rights as the state terminates them. Below are a series of events and circumstances that follow an open adoption, particularly for birth parents.

Adoption Finalization is the Last Stop

The birth parents of the youth have no further legal right to their child once the court or party has finalized the adoption. That is unless they want to re-acquire their child. The essence of the termination of legal rights is that the adoptive parents can become legally recognized as the parents.

Naturally, once the birth parents have signed the papers and ended the process, they are past the point of no return. These individuals have no parental rights unless certain circumstances and conditions occur.

Rights Termination Exception

If, along the adoption process, the birth parents discover that the process is invalid due to fraud, they retain their rights. Also, the process is invalid if the birth parents go ahead with the adoption process due to coercion or under duress. Additionally, the court can revoke consent if the court finds that the birth parents retain rights to the child.

In the case of a revocation, the adoption is not final, and the child stays with the birth parents. The biological parents still retain all rights with their child because all rights are still available.

Communication between Parents

The adoptive and biological parents can decide to stay in communication where the former seeks to foster a relationship with the child. Usually, the child is not of age; thus, the adoptive parents wait until they understand what is happening. The birth parents get visitation rights, which can be long-term or short-term or until the adoptive parents cease them.

Loss of Legal Rights

The standard procedure for adoption is that the parent(s) often lose all legal rights with the youth. This stage is the last chance for the birth parents to change their minds and stop the process.

Once the authorizing body finalizes the adoption, they lose all rights for visitation, custody, and other matters. The adoptive parents can decide if they still want any involvement from the birth parent and how much.

All Access to the Child is Cut

The birth parents can decide to cut off their access to the youth, particularly if they believe they are a bad influence. “Bad influence” can mean drug use, smoking, excessive drinking, and other sanctionable or illegal activities.

Once the adoptive parents cut off all communication with the child, there is not much the biological parents can do. The only option would be for the birth father and mother to re-acquire their youth.

Agreement to Revocation

When the court issues a revocation, and the adoptive parents agree, the birth parents can retain or regain visitation rights to their child. This agreement may occur if all parties want to ensure the child’s best interests and are in a communicative relationship. This situation is even more likely in cases where the adoptive parents understand the reason for the adoption.

Conclusion: Seeking Legal Support

“Birth parents should seek legal support when they are going through this process. A lawyer will facilitate communication with the adoptive family, helping you to ensure your rights and interests are being honored,” says attorney Matt Towson of Towson Law Firm. 

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