Reversing an Adoption: Adopted Child Returned to Birth Parents

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 What are the Different Types of Adoptions?

The North Carolina Courts define various types of adoptions. These adoptions include:

  • Agency adoption: An agency, either a county department of social services or a licensed child-placing agency, places a child with the petitioner for adoption and consents to the adoption;
  • Independent adoption: A child’s parent or guardian directly places the child with the petitioner for adoption and consents to the adoption;
  • Relative adoption: A parent or guardian chooses to place the child with a relative for adoption and consents to the adoption. For adoption, a relative is a grandparent, full or half-sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or great-grandparent of the child. If the relationship between the child and petitioner is one other than those listed, the adoption is classified as an independent adoption;
  • Foreign adoption: There are two types of foreign adoptions, re-adoption of a child who was adopted in a foreign country by the same petitioner or adoption of a child when adoption is not finalized in a foreign country;
  • Step-parent adoption: A step-parent petition to adopt their stepchild and;
  • Adult adoption: An adult is petitioned to adopt another adult. A spouse may not adopt their spouse.

Can I Reverse an Adoption?

The HR Legal Resources outline that while adoption can assist in placing a child in a home with parents who want to care for the child, adoption may not work out that way. The process is different to stop an adoption that has not yet gone through versus reversing one once it has been finalized. Additionally, it depends on the person who desires to reverse the adoption.

Sometimes, the decision to stop the adoption may occur before it is finalized. This may happen because the adoptive parent has decided not to go through with the adoption, or the adoptive 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 that wants to end the adoption proceedings. Some paperwork must be filed, but there is usually no intervention done through the court in these situations.

Parties who can reverse an adoption include the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. For an adoption to be reversed, one of these parties must file a petition, and the court must be convinced of a compelling reason to reverse the adoption. This is weighed under the legal standard of the child’s best interests.

Before the parents can adopt, they must undergo an extensive pre-adoption screening process. Some have dealt with years of difficulty conceiving their 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. But, if adoptive parents decide the adoption is unsuitable, they must petition the court to annul or vacate the adoption. They must demonstrate why it is not in the child’s best interests to continue the adoptive relationship.

Furthermore, an adopted child may desire to have their adoption vacated for various reasons. Some may want to be emancipated from their adoptive parents, wishing to act and be treated as adults under the law. Or they may want to modify this status when they are natural adults due to poor relationships with their adoptive parents or because they desire to reestablish contact with their birth parents. In some scenarios, the adopted child finds a placement that is better for them. A new adoption process may commence. If the adoption is approved, the old adoption will no longer have binding legal power.

Birth parents may want to reverse an adoption to regain their parental rights. This is typically the most challenging way to reverse an adoption. Moreover, in some states, it is considered impossible. In jurisdictions where this is permitted, the birth parent must usually provide evidence to showcase that there has been an extraordinary improvement in the birth parents’ ability to care for the child.

The birth parents must provide clear and concise consent to make the adoption final. Each state has a specific timeline for the parent to revoke consent to an adoption. In some states, this is as few as three days, and other states permit one year or until the child reaches a certain age. There are exceptions to the general guidelines that vary on how the adoption was processed.

Even if this time limit has expired, 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 determined null and void. Consent requires a voluntary relinquishment of rights.

What Are Some Basics of Adoption?

The state government of Oregon researched the importance of adoption and its effect on children statewide. Children of all ages may be adopted; however, most waiting children are over the age of 5 and may fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Part of a sibling group needing to be placed together;
  • Part of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority and;
  • Have physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities.

Children needing adoptive homes are like other children and come in all forms. They are similar to other children, each with unique personalities, abilities, interests, and potential. Many children waiting for adoption have special needs related to the abuse or neglect they have experienced, including the grief and loss of being taken from their birth family. In some circumstances, the birth parents determined they could not take care of their children and turned over custody to the state. Since most children living in foster care who are available for adoption are school-aged, families seeking to adopt a baby may also contact a private adoption agency licensed by the state.

These agencies coordinate with the birth parent(s) who choose to place their baby with an adoptive family. Adoption is a way to nourish children through a sense of security, a sense of belonging, and unconditional love. Adoptive parents have permanent, legal parental rights and responsibilities to the children they adopt. These children also require parents who can:

  • Accept their sense of loss and need to heal;
  • Share their sense of humor;
  • Be self-confident but not afraid to ask for assistance or support when necessary;
  • Cooperate with social workers, teachers, therapists, and community partners;
  • Be willing to keep them connected to their birth family when appropriate;
  • Support their racial and cultural diversity and;
  • Accept and nurture a child not born to them.

Families are generally as diverse as the children needing homes. Each comes from their own life experiences, levels of education, income, occupations, and lifestyles. Successful families are caring people who are ready to commit wholeheartedly to a child.

Here are some types of people that may adopt:

  • Single, married, or domestic partners;
  • Residing in a house or apartment, but must have room to house a child;
  • Work inside or outside the home;
  • Must be at least 21 years of age or older;
  • Must have sufficient income to support your family;
  • Must be able to physically care for a child and;
  • Must pass a child abuse and criminal background check.

Keep in mind that applicants are considered regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

If you need advice on how to reverse an adoption, you should contact a local adoption attorney to guide you in the process.

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