Why am I scared to death of the birth parents?

There are so many myths to understand about birth parents. The big fear among potential adoptive parents in a recent survey is that the birth parents will try to reclaim the child after adoption. So there are a few things you should know to calm your fears and a few things you should be aware of.

  • First, less than 1% of U.S. adoptions have been contested, which means the birth parents resurfaced and said I want my child back. That incident became a television drama and the whole world thinks this is going to happen to them.  Understandable, although not as common an occurrence as you might think, the most common denominator in this drama is the legal process.
  • The solution, you should make sure that you only use a lawyer that specializes in adoption. Adoption Discovery recommends that you interview several and make sure they specialize in the kind of adoption you are interested in doing. AdoptionDiscovery.org has a listing of adoption lawyers for each state. This association listing requires that a lawyer finalizes a certain amount of adoptions and has a certain level of experience before they can be a member. This adds a level of safety that you can’t get from a casual referral.  Most of the cases that are in the media are related to procedures that were not included in the legal process. Don’t become this adoption story. Don’t use the friend who is a lawyer that says they will do it free or at a discount, this is dangerous and may cost you more later in the process.

The small percentage of adoptions contested get big publicity. In 1993, a case went before an Iowa Judge known as Baby Jessica. In this case, a couple adopted a little girl. After a two and a half year custody battle, the child was returned to her birth parents. In 1991, a case in Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the child had to be returned to the birth parents.

In both cases, the adoptive parents were not aware of the laws as it related to parental consent in the states in which they were adopting and the representative hired to perform the adoption process did not follow the state laws. Make sure that you use the Adoption Discovery list of Adoption Attorneys as a resource for accountable and knowledgeable representation.

  • Second, make sure that the child you are adopting is legally available for adoption. Adoption Discovery will guide you through the questions you need to ask in detail to be sure. At a minimum, if the child has not had a termination of parental rights hearing in a court of law you need to stop and ask questions. There is a legal process that must transpire and it comes along with legal documentation. This means that if the relative of the child is the guardian and they have offered for you to adopt this child because the biological parents have abandoned the child or is in prison this child may not be available for adoption until the legal termination of parental rights has transpired. Guardianship is different and is not a guarantee that this child will be available for adoption. Each case has a list of questions that must be answered and that is where Adoption Discovery can assist you.  If the parents of this child return or are released from prison they have a right to reclaim their child and in most cases they will, hence the television drama begins.

Real Life Story:

She didn’t have support so she would take help from anyone available who offered. Grandma Jane had guardianship of her daughter’s two children ever since her daughter was sent to prison two years earlier. The children’s birth mother had nothing to do with the children during her incarceration, so all the responsibility was placed upon the grandmother’s shoulders. Within the next year grandma Jane became very ill and had trouble taking care of the two young children.  She turned to her church for help. They put her in touch with a young couple that lived in her neighborhood who were trying to adopt. This couple pitched in to help out by keeping on the weekends and driving them to and from school every day. They were overjoyed to have children fill their home and to be able to help grandma Jane. Adoption was discussed and the couple agreed to adopt the two children and to allow an open adoption to give the benefit to the children of a continued close relationship with their grandmother. No official documents were signed and no court proceedings took place since Grandma Jane and the young couple did not feel it was necessary.

Three years later, the birth mother was released from prison. She immediately came to claim her children. The young couple was devastated to lose the children. Since no legal termination of parental rights had taken place, the grandmother had no right to place the children with the young couple from her church. If proper procedures had been followed, this messy situation would not have taken place.

There are so many things you can do to make your adoption less stressful. Don’t avoid what seems like a complicated situation just because you are unfamiliar with the process. There are so many things that can be done and so many options but you must educate yourself and surround yourself with professionals who have the solutions.

 

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