Your Options For Reversing An Adoption And Getting Your Child Back

Each year, approximately 135,000 children are adopted. The majority of the time, this is the best thing that can happen to the child, but that's not always the case. If you as the biological mother or father of an adopted child feel this course of action was a mistake, it may be possible to reverse the transaction and get your parental rights back. The process isn't easy, but here are some ways you can make this happen.

Revoke Consent

Of the two options, revoking consent to the adoption is possibly the least complicated. A good number of states give biological parents a period of time when they can essentially change their minds and cancel the adoption. The exact number of days varies depending on where you live. In Maryland, for instance, the revocation period for parents is 30 days. It's 7 days in Virginia, though consent to the adoption can't be given until 72 hours after the child is born (so 10 days altogether).

However, most states will let parents revoke their consent regardless of the time period if they can prove their agreement wasn't given of their own free will. For instance, a biological mother who signs the consent forms while still under the influence of anesthesia or other incapacitating condition could argue she didn't have the mental wherewithal to legally agree to the transaction. Approval obtained while the parent was under duress, being threatened, or deceived (e.g. fraud) would also likely be overturned by a judge.

When consent is revoked, the adoption process is completely stopped and the party members can either renegotiate the terms of their agreement or completely go their separate ways. If the adoption was finalized, the decision in the case would be vacated and the child returned to the biological parents along with their rights.

Sue for Return of Parental Rights

In cases where the adoption has been finalized by the court and the consent was legally obtained, parents seeking to revoke an adoption must ask a judge to reinstate their parental rights. However, this is extremely difficult to do. States don't like to do adoption reversals, and most of them require birth parents to get the adoptive parents to consent to the process. This may be easy if the adoptive parents want to give the child back. Many adoptive parents play for keeps, though, so don't be surprised if the answer is no.

Regardless of whether you need the adoptive parents' permission or not, you will typically have to show that the reversal is in the best interest of the child, both in the short and long term. For instance, if the child isn't thriving in his or her new environment or there are abuse issues, the court may be willing to reverse the transaction to protect the child from further harm. If the court believes the child is better served by staying with the adoptive parents, though, you can expect your request to be denied.

Alternative Legal Options

Even with the consent of all parties involved, some states won't allow an adoption to be reversed. Utah doesn't allow adoption reversals or consent revocations for any reason, for example, though a few fathers have won reversals based on the fact they weren't notified about the impending adoption of their children.

In this situation, your only option may be to adopt your own child. The adoptive parents would have to surrender their parental rights in much the same way you did when the transaction originally occurred. If successful, however, the new adoption will supersede the old one, and your parental rights and responsibilities concerning your child will be in full effect.

Reversing an adoption can be an immensely challenging undertaking, so it's important you get ample legal help with the process. For more information about this issue or assistance with a case, contact a family law attorney at a law firm such as Ivy Law Group PLLC.