Each year, over 100,000 children are adopted in the United States. Most adoptions are joyous, and most adopted children fit right in and immediately become a part of their adopted family.
Adoptions are supposed to be permanent, and usually, they are, but what happens if a biological parent surfaces and claims parental rights? Or what if a family should decide that an adoption just isn’t “working out?”
Can an adoption be “reversed?” If so, how, and under what circumstances? If you have adopted a child or if you’re considering adoption, you may need to know. You’ll find some answers below.
WHAT IS AN ADOPTION DISRUPTION?
Adoptions may be reversed in several ways. The term “disruption” describes an adoption reversal that happens after the child is placed in an adoptive home but before the adoption is legally finalized.
Disruption can happen because the adoptive parents have chosen not to go through with the adoption, because they have discovered negative information about the child’s physical or mental health, or because they have decided that they are simply not ready to be parents.
WHAT IS AN ADOPTION DISSOLUTION?
A “dissolution” describes an adoption reversal that happens after an adoption has been legally finalized.
It’s a heartbreaking reality, and it happens more often than you might think; sometimes, however, adoptive parents regret their decision, and they take legal action to reverse an adoption.
Writer Joyce Maynard, for instance, explained on her blog that she gave up her two daughters, adopted from Ethiopia in 2010, because she was “not able to give them what they needed.”
FOR WHAT REASONS ARE ADOPTIONS DISRUPTED OR DISSOLVED?
From the outside, adoption reversal may seem unfair and even selfish, but the reality of a reverse adoption is anguish and heartache for everyone involved.
One former adoptive mother explained to NBC’s Today show, “That kid broke furniture and parts of our house for sport. She also did things like running directly into traffic or screaming that she was being kidnapped in public places. Not every family can handle that level of drama.”
A 2010 study conducted by the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County, Minnesota, found that for children older than three, reversal happens in ten to sixteen percent of adoptions, and for teens, the reversal rate may be as high as one in four adoptions.
Seattle adoption counselor Zia Freeman explains that adoption reversal “rarely occurs with infants. But if you’re talking about older children … it’s significantly higher because of the complexities of parenting a child who already has life experiences and certain behaviors.”
WHAT DO COURTS REQUIRE TO HAVE AN ADOPTION REVERSED?
When adoptive parents want to reverse an adoption, a court will usually require those parents to show that a reversal is in the child’s best interests. For example, the relationship between the adoptive parents and the child may be so damaged that neither party any longer benefits from it.
An Indiana court may permit an adoption reversal if the adoptive parents can no longer care for the child. Courts will not, however, permit reversals simply because adoptive parents are tired of being parents.
CAN THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS REVERSE AN ADOPTION?
When birth parents want to reverse their child’s adoption and regain parental rights, the consent of the adoptive parents is required.
When birth parents consent to an adoption in Indiana, they have thirty days to reconsider and withdraw their consent.
However, under very narrow circumstances, consent may be revoked beyond thirty days. For example, if consent was given as a result of duress or fraud, a court may allow the withdrawal of consent.
When an adoption is reversed, the child’s birth certificate will be changed back to the way it originally read.
WHAT IS A COURT’S TOP PRIORITY IN AN ADOPTION CASE?
In any legal matter that involves adoption in the state of Indiana, the courts are obligated to make the “best interests of the child” the top priority.
If you are seeking to adopt a child, to place a child for adoption, or to reverse an adoption, whether you are a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or a prospective adoptive parent, before you take any other action, speak first to an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.
If you are seeking to adopt, you must understand that adoption is supposed to be permanent. Make certain that adoption is the right decision for you and your family. If you must dissolve an adoption, it can be complicated, and not just legally but emotionally as well.
WHO MAY ADOPT IN INDIANA?
Single adults and married couples, including same-sex couples, are allowed to adopt in Indiana.
Individuals or couples in Indiana who want to become adoptive parents and expectant mothers who have questions regarding adoption should obtain sound legal advice directly from a skilled family law attorney.
Adoption can be a special event in a family’s life, but a successful adoption requires careful consideration of every detail at every stage of the process.
HOW CAN A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?
Whether you are adopting a child born in the U.S. or in another country, or if you want to adopt a stepchild or a child who is a relative, a qualified adoption attorney can protect your family’s rights, answer your questions, and guide you through the legal process of adoption.
Make certain that you are comfortable with the conditions and terms of an adoption, and speak up if you aren’t. You want to do everything possible to ensure that you don’t have to return to the adoption court to seek a dissolution of the adoption.
WHAT DOES INDIANA REQUIRE OF PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS?
An adoption in Indiana is accomplished in several stages. In nearly all adoptions in this state, the prospective adoptive parents must submit a petition for adoption, acquire the consent of the biological parents if possible, and take part in an extensive “home study.”
What makes adoption even more complicated in Indiana is that the legal procedures are not the same in every case but depend on the details of the adoption.
For any person or couple seeking to adopt in Indiana, the advice and services of an experienced family law attorney are indispensable.
What you’ve read here is a general introduction to adoption and adoption reversal, but you’ll need a family lawyer to explain how Indiana’s adoption laws will apply to your own situation.
Get that advice before you begin the adoption process or place your child for adoption. Then, with your attorney’s help, you’ll be prepared for any difficulty that may arise during the adoption process.