In general, there are many rights reserved for the birth parents but after adoption, these rights will change. Each state has its own rules and regulations on adoption procedures. Biological parents have the following rights available to them.
If your child is placed in out-of-home care, you are entitled to regular telephone contact with your child, as long as that contact is not detrimental to your child, these rights encompass visitation rights. If it is safe for the child, in-person visits will be arranged according to the visitation plan, as ordered by the court.
Furthermore, if more than one of your children needs to be placed out of home, the local government agencies within your state will work to keep siblings together. This is both easier for parents and takes less of an emotional toll on children if they can remain with their brothers and sisters.
Next is the right to make medical decisions on behalf of the children. The birth parent is considered to be the primary contact if your child experiences any major illness or injuries unless otherwise ruled by the court. Keep in mind that no medical intervention can be made without your consent.
Another major right is the ability and freedom to educate your child per your values. As the birth parent, hold your child’s educational rights and have the right to make educational decisions for your child. Your child can continue going to their school of origin and cannot be moved to a new school without your permission.
Your child’s social worker and educational providers are mandated to ensure that your child feels safe, comfortable, and successful in their academic pursuits. Your child has the right to the same educational opportunities as all students, consistent with their age and developmental level.
Besides, the rights of the birth parents, the child also holds certain rights:
- A stable schooling placement that is the least restrictive for them;
- Access to academic resources, services, extracurricular, cultural, and enrichment activities;
- An opportunity to attend school regularly with minimal disruption;
- Enrollment at their school-of-origin following a change in their residence if you so choose; and
- Enrollment in a school with their peers.
How Does Paternity Work in the Context of Biological Parents?
The American Bar Association’s data shows how paternity correlates with biological parents. An individual may seek parentage based on being a biological or genetic parent. In each state, by the existence of common law, statute, or both, a person who gives birth to a child is treated as a legal parent. In several states, this general principle has an exception if the person who gives birth was acting as a surrogate. This area of law is more complicated and finding an expert in the field is useful.
Additionally, biological paternity provides a common basis on which to establish parentage. The Voluntary Acknowledgements of Paternity (VAPs), which states are mandated to maintain as a condition for federal funding, are the most common way that paternity for nonmarital children is established. These VAPs have the force of a legal judgment of parentage. To be valid, the VAP must be signed by the birth parent and the alleged genetic father, who attests to his status as the biological father and waives his right to genetic testing.
However, a VAP may be rescinded up to 60 days after signing, thereafter it can only be challenged based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. The relevance of biological evidence to challenges to VAPs depends on each state. Therefore, the parents need to research the local laws and figure out the rules in that particular jurisdiction.
For those biological parents who are not birth parents, presumed parents, or acknowledged parents, adjudication may be required to establish parentage. The birth parent, alleged genetic parent, or child may initiate an action to establish parentage during the child’s minority. In situations in which the birth parent needs government aid, the state also has the standing to establish parentage and thus seek support.
Who is Considered a “Birth Parent”?
According to the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), the term “birth mother” or “birth parent” refers to a woman who has given birth to a child and decides to place her child for adoption. The term “expectant mother” or “expectant parent” means a woman who is pregnant and who may be considering adoption, but who has not yet given birth and who has not yet terminated her parental rights.
The same criteria in vocabulary apply to men. “Birth father” entails a man who has already consented to the termination of his parental rights and the adoption. An “expectant father” is a man whose child has not yet been born and whose rights to the child remain intact. But, the term “expectant parent” is not widespread. But it is used commonly among the state statutes and other state regulations for referencing. However, keep in mind that the terms “birth parent” and “expectant parent” are not interchangeable.
What are the Other Rights and Responsibilities of Birth Parents?
Parents are responsible for their children and they can make decisions on what third parties have access to their children. For instance, Grandparents only have rights in limited circumstances. If a birth parent does not want someone to be around their child, that is their right. You can decide whether and how often others see your child.
The address and other contact information necessary for communication need to be available for the other parent. The other parent must give you the address and phone number where the child is living. Especially, if they move or change their phone number, they must provide you with the new information within a period. Birth parents have a right to know where their child lives and how to contact them. This is part of the notion that children need to build a bond with both their parents.
Furthermore, you as a birth parent have designated parenting time that should be without interference from the other parent. It is important that a parent may not alienate the child from their relationship with the other parent. Moreover, if the other parent tries to interfere with your parenting time or your relationship with your child, you have the option to bring up the matter to court to enforce your rights. You must have a custody order in place to seek the court for enforcement.
Lastly, you have the right to enforcement of any court order that is in place for your child. You have the right to enforcement of any terms of your court order. But in case you are accused of violating a court order, you have the right to present evidence and make arguments to the court before the judge enters a ruling.
When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you are concerned about your rights as a birth parent and believe they are being violated, it may be useful to seek out a local adoption lawyer to guide you through this issue.