Adoption can provide a child with a loving home and gift the joy of parenting to an individual or couple. The adoption process itself, however, can be fraught with obstacles and emotional ups and downs. One fear many prospective adoptive parents have is that the birth mother will change her mind after relinquishing the child. Dallas adoption lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains the adoption process and if a birth mother can change her mind.
Adoption Basics in Texas
State law governs the adoption process, meaning the eligibility criteria, legal procedures, and relative laws can change from one state to the next. For example, in Texas you can adopt a child if you are single or married but must be at least 21 years old and financially stable. You will also need to undergo a medical screening and a criminal background check as well as complete a home study.
Termination of Parental Rights
A crucial aspect of the adoption process is the termination of parental rights. Termination may be done voluntarily through the consent of the parent(s) or involuntarily by a court. Typically, involuntary termination of parental rights only occurs when the child has been removed by the Department of Family and Protective Services and all reasonable steps have been taken to try and safely reunite the child with one or both parents. Voluntary termination of parental rights is necessary when a birth mother decides to relinquish her child at the time of birth (or any time thereafter). The birth father may also be required to consent to the adoption, depending on the circumstances. An adoption cannot move forward and be finalized without the appropriate termination/relinquishment of parental rights.
Can the Birth Mother Change Her Mind?
For an individual or couple hoping to adopt, there are typically several reasons to be anxious or worried about successfully navigating the legal process. These fears are often heightened when the adoption arrangement is agreed upon while the birth mother is pregnant. The adoptive parent(s) frequently worries that the birth mother will bond with the baby at birth and be unable to go through with the adoption. These fears are not unfounded. Birth mother do sometimes look at the situation differently once the child is born. If you are hoping to adopt a yet to be born child, you undoubtedly want some reassurance that your heart will not be broken at the end of the journey.
What makes any concern you may be experiencing worse is the fact that the birth mother cannot legally relinquish her rights to the child until after the child is born. An agreement to adopt can be negotiated while the child is in utero; however, the legal steps required for the adoption to become permanently legally binding cannot occur until after the baby is born.
At that point, the birth mother (and the birth father in some cases) must legally relinquish all right to the child, in writing, before a court will consider the adoption final. What happens, however, if the birth mother does sign the consent form but then changes her mind? For guidance, we look to Texas Adoption Code Sec. 162.011 which reads as follows: “At any time before an order granting the adoption of the child is rendered, a consent required by Section 162.010 may be revoked by filing a signed revocation.”
A birth mother’s consent is usually obtained withing the first 48-72 hours after the child’s birth. Once properly executed, that consent is filed with the court along with the other adoption requirements. A birth mother then has a small window of opportunity within which that consent may be withdrawn before the court have enter an order that finalizes the adoption.
Because a birth mother has a window of opportunity within which to withdraw consent, it is best to work with an adoption attorney of you plan to adopt in the near future.
Contact a Dallas Adoption Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about adoption in the State of Texas, contact experienced Dallas adoption lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.