Birth Mother Rights After Adoption

by | May 10, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

Birth mother waves to the adoptive family and her child during a FaceTime callOpen adoption means that birth mothers can decide which family adopts their child. Birth mothers also choose how much contact to have with the child and new family after the adoption.

However, there are still some questions about birth mother rights after adoption that we wanted to address. Please read on for answers to some common questions about birth mothers and adoption rights.

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Q: How much contact can I have after adoption?

A: As much as you choose. A birth mother’s rights after open adoption include visitations, which can take place as often as you like. However, this will be an arrangement between the birth mother and the adoptive parents. Lifetime encourages discussions and agreements with the adoptive parents prior to the adoption taking place.

But let’s take a step back. Moms will also choose how things go before their baby’s birth. They can decide who is in the delivery room, who gets to cut the cord, and how much skin-to-skin contact they want after delivery.

In short, the birth mother has control over many decisions that have to do with her child — both before and after the birth.

Please keep in mind that many states do not have laws that enforce open adoption contracts. Contact Lifetime Adoption today, and we can discuss this in greater detail.

FindLaw.com explains your rights as a birth mother: “While the current trend for adoptions is to allow open adoptions that encourage birth parents and adoptive parents and the children to maintain contact, there is not much a birth parent can do if the adoptive parents do not want them in their adopted child’s life. To protect against this, birth parents may wish to enter into an agreement with the adoptive parents allowing for such things as visitation or regular updates. These agreements can be wrought with pitfalls and should be considered carefully by both adoptive parents and birth parents before being entered into.”

Q: What are my rights if the birth father is against adoption?

A: Again, laws vary by state. At Lifetime, we can arrange a free meeting with an adoption attorney for legal advice if you have questions. Adoption laws should focus on the interest of the child and their relationship with the adoptive family. However, there are still some difficult questions related to adoption and birth fathers.

As one of the biological parents, if the birth father is against adoption, then he can contest it. Each state has a process in place that allows birth fathers to contest the adoption. The time he has to do so varies by state. Please see this page for more info.

Q: Can an adoption be reversed?

A: An adoption is final and legally binding once all parties sign paperwork agreeing to it. The signed adoption documentation ends the birth parent’s rights. Once an attorney legally completes the adoption, no one can reverse it.

The adoption reversal process is a serious matter. Every state takes considerable precautions to ensure that birth parents’ rights are fully protected.

These precautions often involve counseling for the birth parents and the adoptive parents and action to ensure that both birth parents have been contacted and informed of the pending adoption. In addition, adoption agencies must perform thorough investigations into the medical, professional, and personal backgrounds of adopting parents, known as a “home study.”

While it is rare that an adoption be reversed, it can be terminated under certain circumstances. If either birth parent cancels their consent to the adoption before signing the final adoption agreement, the courts can terminate the adoption. The timeline for canceling consent varies by state. If either of the birth parents cancels their consent within the time allocated by their state, the adoption process stops. As a result, the courts will not terminate their parental rights.

If you want a personalized answer to the question, “Can an adoption be reversed?”, check your state’s consent and revocation laws.

Q: What if I change my mind and decide to keep my baby?

A: Adoption laws vary in each state. It’s important to note that in some cases, the birth mother has the option not to sign the legal documents that transfer her parental rights to the new family. When this happens, it is referred to as a “reclaim.”

In some states, there is a 48-hour period in which the birth mother can change her mind. In other states, it’s up to about six weeks.

Open adoption is such an important piece of the puzzle; it allows birth moms to set the rules, but it also allows them to get to know the adoptive family. This communication can make it less likely that a mom will have second thoughts about the adoption process, the adoptive mother or father, or the termination of parental rights once the courts finalize the adoption.

Remember, birth moms will always have the support of Lifetime’s adoption specialists, plus counseling, both peer and licensed, if they want it.

Finally, as one of the top adoption agencies, Lifetime has decades of experience managing adoptions; we ensure a thorough evaluation of adoptive parents through the home study process, so you’ll know they’re safe.

That’s why the reclaim rate at Lifetime is so low. Most of the time, the biological mother is happy that they decided to consent to the adoption. (And almost all the time, the adoptive parents agree!)

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2020, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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2 Comments

  1. Ellie heard

    In this article about birth fathers not wanting to let birth moms give their child in adoption, it says you can arrange a free meeting with an adoption attorney for legal advice. How could I go about that?

    Reply
    • Lifetime Adoption

      Hi Ellie! Please call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 and speak to one of our adoption coordinators. They are happy to help!

      Reply

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