Adoption is the legal transfer of your parental rights to another individual or couple, making the child a legal member of their family. It means you’ll no longer have parental responsibility for the child; neither can you have physical and legal custody of the child.
Before deciding on adoption, talk with custody lawyers in West Chester, PA, to help you understand the rights you’ll be giving up.
Understanding Terminated Parental Rights
Adoption is only possible when there’s a voluntary or involuntary termination of your parental rights. A voluntary termination implies that the biological parents legally agreed to relinquish their parental rights and duties for an adoption to happen.
In Pennsylvania, birth parents usually have 72 hours after birth to decide on giving up their child. They also have 30 days afterward, within which they can retrieve their consent to the adoption. This rule gives parents time to change their minds, especially if they’re anxious about losing their child.
A judge can involuntarily terminate birth parents’ rights under certain conditions that aren’t in the child’s best interest. Some common grounds for termination include
- Abandonment or neglect
- Severe child abuse
- A lengthy jail term of parent that may negatively impact the child’s upbringing
- Parent’s mental illness or incapacity that’s based on alcohol or drug use.
Termination of parental rights is the standard process that leads to adoption. When an adoption is finalized, the birth parents will no longer have legal and physical custody rights over the child. It then becomes the adoptive parents’ duty to decide if the birth parents will have any form of involvement with the child.
The Exception to Regaining Parental Rights
Birth parents can regain custody after adoption if they can prove that the decision to sign the termination documents was under duress or fraud. Birth fathers can also file to revoke an adoption if it was without consent. Adoption under both circumstances is invalid. If the court determines that giving custody back to birth parents is in the child’s best interest, a consent revocation can occur.
However, birth parents only have 60 days after the child’s birth or after the execution of consent, or 30 days after the adoption decree’s entry. Also, proving duress or fraud can be very tricky. It will help if you hire one of the best custody lawyers in West Chester PA, to represent you in court.
The Option for Visitation
Generally, birth parents have no custody or visitation rights with adopted children. However, some circumstances may allow them to have a relationship with the child. One such scenario is in an open adoption. Unlike a closed adoption that cuts off all access to the child, open adoption can offer birth parents some visitation time.
However, birth parents need to have a good relationship with the adoptive parents for visitation to work. If the adoptive parents feel that a relationship with the birth parents isn’t in the child’s best interest, they can choose not to share custody.
Perhaps you’re a birth parent seeking a relationship with a child you’ve given out for adoption. It’s best to have custody lawyers in West Chester, PA, facilitate contact with the adoptive parents.