The adoption statutes of some states provide that when certain conditions are fulfilled, an adult can be adopted with his or her consent. However, if the adult is found to be mentally incompetent the court has the power to waive the consent requirement and allow the adoption regardless of whether the adult consents.
The Uniform Adoption Act, which applies to all states, requires the informed consent of anyone under eighteen years of age to be adopted if the child is more than 12 years old. However, the court does have the power to waive the consent requirement if it finds the adoption to be in the child’s best interests.
If the child is under twelve years of age, the birth parents must give consent. If the birth parents cannot be found or if the birth parents do not have legal authority to give consent, then the following adults may give consent:
- The agency that has custody over the child
- A court with jurisdiction over the child
- A legal guardian who has custody
- Any person who has custody over the child
- A close relative of the child
Consent is meant to be final, but there are a few exceptions. First, if the consent was given through fraud or duress, then the consent is automatically null and void. The consent must be given through the person or the person’s legal representative free will.
Second, if a child is adopted and the court finds that it would be in the best interest of the child to revoke the withdrawal, the court will grant it.
Finally, birth parents also have a small window of time in which they can change their minds before the consent is considered permanent. This time frame will differ by state. Please see below for a state by state breakdown.
However, if the adoptive parent or parents agree to a withdrawal, then the consent can be revoked outside the legal time frame.
Each state’s time frame for revoking adoption consent is listed below. Note that the laws are subject to change and thus the time frames provided should only be used as a general estimate.
- Alabama – 14 days
- Alaska – 10 days
- Arkansas – 10 days
- California – 30 days
- Colorado – 90 days
- Delaware – 60 days
- District of Colombia – 10 days
- Indiana – 30 days
- Iowa – 96 hours days
- Kentucky – 20 days
- Louisiana – Until child is six years of age
- Maine – 3 days
- Maryland – 30 days
- Minnesota – 10 days
- Nevada – Within 72 hours after childbirth
- New York – 45 days
- North Carolina – 7 days
- Rhode Island – 180 days
- South Dakota- 2 years
- Tennessee – 10 days
- Texas – 10 days
- Vermont – 21 days
- Virginia – Until a child is 25 years of age
- Washington – One year; two years for Native American children
- Wisconsin – 1 year
The following states will revoke consent if the court finds that the child’s best interests are not served by the adoption:
Court’s finding of best interest – Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina
Note that all states will revoke consent if there is a finding of fraud, duress or misrepresentation. The states which will only allow revocation based on fraud, duress, or misrepresentation are:
Fraud, duress or misrepresentation – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming
Adoptions can become complex when a child or mentally incompetent adust refuses to give consent. Additionally, adoption statutes may vary by state. A good adoption attorney will be familiar with your state’s laws, and provide the legal guidance you need through a difficult adoption.