In short, yes. Adoptions can be reversed, as adoptions do not always work out. However, adoption is not legally intended to be reversible. As such, reversing an adoption is a complicated and nuanced process. Some examples of when adoption reversal generally occurs include but are not limited to:
• Fraud, or wrongful adoption;
• The child has unexpected needs that the adoptive parents are not able to address; and/or
• The adoptive parents develop health issues or disabilities that make it impossible to raise a child.
The adoption reversal process differs according to who wishes to have the adoption reversed, and when the reversal takes place. Generally, an adoption reversal takes place once the adoption has been finalized. Typically, the reversal process is initiated by either set of parents, adoptive or biological, petitioning the court to reverse the adoption. It is imperative to note that the reversal must absolutely be in the child’s best interests if anything is to proceed. Laws regarding adoption reversal are quite strict. If the reversal is granted, the child’s birth certificate will revert to its original form, and it will be as if the adoption never occurred.
Can You Disrupt an Adoption?
Consent to an adoption is essential and must be clear in order for an adoption to be final. Disrupting an adoption would mean revoking consent, which would then render the adoption invalid. As previously mentioned, there are a few circumstances in which consent to the adoption may be revoked once the adoption has been finalized. This could include duress or fraud, but most commonly involves a timeframe of refusal. Birth parents are allowed a limited window in which they may change their minds before their consent is considered permanent and therefore irreversible. Each state has its own time frame, ranging from 72 hours after birth (Nevada) to 25 years of age (Virginia). That time frame is also influenced by how the adoption was processed. Some states revoke consent if the court determines that the child’s best interests are not served by the adoption. All states revoke consent in cases involving fraud, duress, or misrepresentation. Further, some states only allow disruption based on those circumstances.
Another common reason to contest or disrupt an adoption occurs when one biological parent was not privy to the adoption process or was unaware of the birth of the child. For example, a child’s biological father may not be aware that a child was born, or the child’s biological father is disputed. In such cases, should the biological father not agree with the adoption, the biological father will typically initiate a paternity action and contest the adoption. The process of contesting an adoption can take anywhere from a few months to multiple years in more contested cases.
Birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child are all able to file a petition to reverse an adoption. If the birth parents wish to restore their parental rights, they may file a petition. However, this is generally the most difficult type of adoption reversal, and may actually be impossible in some states. When it is allowed, the birth parents will be required to prove that they have extraordinarily improved their abilities to care for the child.
Additionally, they will need to obtain the consent of the adoptive parents. The most common example of such a scenario would be when a child is adopted by a relative, or the child’s grandparents, because they are concerned for the child’s wellbeing. Adoptive parents wishing to reverse the adoption must prove that the adoption is not working out to the point that it would be in the child’s best interest to reverse the adoption. An example of this would be if the relationship between the parents and the child is so poor that neither party benefits from the arrangement in any way.
It is unlikely that a court would ever grant a reversal simply because the adoptive parents wish to be relieved from their responsibilities as parents.
An adopted child may wish to reverse an adoption if they are seeking emancipation from their adopted parents, or if they wish to contact their birth parents but the terms of their adoption stipulate that they may not. Most commonly, an adopted child wishes to reverse the adoption due to a failing relationship with their adoptive parents. In some cases, the child has found a suitable replacement for themselves and the adoption process may begin again. This would remove the old adoption of all legal power.
Can You Return an Adopted Child In Utah?
As mentioned above, states do not allow adoptive parents to simply return the child to the adoption agency or their birth parents. This is true regardless of where the child was adopted from, whether that be national or international.
Once again, in cases where the adoptive parents are unable to properly care for the child, a court may allow the adoptive parent(s) to terminate their parental rights if there is another prospective adoptive family lined up.
Additionally, a court may allow the adoptive parent(s) to modify their original court order granting the adoption to allow for another party to be granted custody of the adoptive child.
What Happens to a Child If Their Adoptive Parents Die?
Once again, once an adoption is final, that child is treated the same as a biological child of the adoptive parents.
Similar to normal parents, it is important that adoptive parents make arrangements for their adoptive child to ensure that they are cared for in case they become incapacitated or die. Thus it is important that adoptive parents conduct estate planning, including drafting a will or crafting a guardianship for the child in case they become incapacitated or die. Additionally, some states do have adoption assistance programs that continue to provide assistance to adoptive children after their adoptive parents become incapacitated or die. Therefore, as an adoptive parent, it is important to include such language in your will.
Disruption of Adoption In Utah
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.
The Benefits of Adoption In Utah
Gone are the days when people felt that a childless couple was destined to remain so because they have problem with their reproductive system. Gone, too, are the days when eyebrows were raised when it became known that a child was adopted and he was discriminated against. So if you want a child and your doctor tells you that you cannot have one, why not consider seriously the possibility of adoption? If you have one child and your doctor tells you cannot have another, why not give your child the required companionship of a brother or sister by adopting a baby who has no home and who can complete the family of your dream? Remember that as you grow older, you grow smarter but more alone.
You have to imagine what it feels like to be abandoned, totally alone in the world knowing there is no one who really cares if you live or die. Along come this man and woman who says, “We will love you. We will take care of you. You are precious to us.” You will want to please those people because they have given you love and hope.
Many people believe they could never feel the same an adopted child as they would toward their own child. An adopted child and his position in the family is the same as that of a biological child. For reality, once he is legally adopted, the couple assumes all responsibilities of real parents; he has all the rights of a biological child. You cannot go out the same day you finally decide you want to adopt a child and come back with one. You may have to wait for years before you are granted the custody of a baby. And it will be one or two years more before all the legal documentation are completed. When a decision to adopt has been reached, go through an approved adoption agency. Don’t try to get a baby through the back-door methods and don’t take a baby that someone knows about and can arrange to get for you for a sum of money. If you do, you may live to regret this haste very seriously.
A child whose adoption is arranged for through the proper channel is thoroughly tested, physically and mentally, to make sure that he is healthy and normal. His parentage is normally known to the adoption agency, and why he is being placed for adoption. Furthermore, the adoption agency takes care of the legal matters connected with adoption, thus avoiding the heart-breaking experience of the baby’s parents having to claim him from his adopted parents at a later date. While waiting the couple will be interviews by members of the staff of the adoption agency. They will want to see if the couple or the individuals are physically, financially, morally, emotionally, and intellectually equipped for parenthood. The worker of the agency may drop in on the persons interested in adoption unannounced, to see how they live when not expecting a visitor.
Besides preparing a room and necessary equipment for a baby, they must prepare themselves psychologically for this big event. It means that both parents-to-be feel sure they are doing the right thing, that they will love the child as much as if he were their own, and that they will never turn against him even if he does not come up to their dreams and expectations.
In most case, the parents of adopted child always love him as much as they would their very own. First, they have waited so long and a child of their own never arrived. Then they have waited so long for a child to adopt. Their love is heightened, therefore, because the child fulfills a long-for hope. Few adopted children ever have reason to question their parents’ love for them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case when there are other members in the family. If there are other children, born before or after the adopted child’s arrival, the rivalry and jealousy between children almost in every home, may be increased by the real child’s feeling that the adopted child does not rightly belong to the family.
Another group that create problem for the adopted child are members of the older generation. They often believe adoption is wrong because God sends children to families He believes will make good parents. Many grandmothers are prejudiced against adopted children, especially when they have real grandchildren. The adopted child is sensitive to these feelings; and it makes him feel even more unwanted and unwelcome. To avoid this unfortunate situation, parents must do all in their power to convince their elderly relatives of the joy the adopted child brings into their lives.
Sooner or later every adopted child finds out he is adopted. How he learns this, and from whom, is most important for the attitude he develops toward himself and his foster family. Learning the wrong way from the wrong source can do harm that no amount of love and care will ever undo. So it is important that the foster parents take time to explain everything to the child once he has reached the age to comprehend the full meaning of adoption. The adopted child must have a healthy attitude toward the whole matter of adoption, fostered by years of experience with people who love him in the home, and people in the community who accept him as they accept all other children who are not adopted. Only in this way will he escape frustrations, heartbreaks and resentments that always come to an adopted child when he realizes the full meaning of adoption.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Want to Reverse an Adoption?
An adoption lawyer will be essential for any part of the adoption process. It is imperative to remember that reversing an adoption will likely be impossible simply because the adoptive parents regret their decision to adopt the child. Further, all decisions on reversing an adoption must be made with the child’s best interests being placed above all.
An experienced adoption lawyer in Utah can help you build a case on this standard, and guide you through the adoption and adoption reversal process. Additionally, an attorney can file any necessary legal paperwork on your behalf, as well as represent you in court as needed.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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