In the adoption process, adoptive parents assume complete legal responsibility for raising a child. The adoptive parents are given the same parental rights as if the child had been born to them, while the parental rights of the biological mother and father are terminated.
Adoptive parents have a right to certain information about the child placed for adoption as well as the child's birth family. If the agency handling the adoption doesn't adequately disclose the child's background, the adoptive parents may be able to pursue a wrongful adoption claim against the agency.
Adoptive Parents Rights to Certain Disclosures
In most states, adoption laws give adoptive parents certain rights to information about the child and the birth family. As part of the adoption process, all states give the adoptive parents the right to receive non-identifying information, such as the birth family's medical history and any medications taken by the birth mother during pregnancy. However, state law typically prohibits the release of information that identifies the biological family, unless a written consent to release the information is given by a birth parent.
Rights Under the Family Medical Leave Act
Adoptive parents have the right under federal law to take unpaid leave from work after adopting a child. If the adoptive parents are eligible, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows an adoptive parent to take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave to help the adoptive child adjust after placement in the home. The leave must be taken within one year of placement.
The FMLA applies to employees of all public agencies and schools, private schools, and most companies with 50 or more employees. State and local governments may give adoptive parents similar rights for family leave.
Right to Disclosure by the State Adoption Registry
All states have laws about disclosure of birth parent information to an adopted child and facilitating contact between the biological parents and adoptive parents. To do so, each state maintains an adoption registry or uses a confidential intermediary service. If the adopted child is under the age of 18, the adoptive parents' consent is required for the child to access the registry information or use the intermediary service. Adoptive parents have the right to withhold their identifying information from the birth parents.
Adoptive Parents May Sue for Wrongful Adoption
Private and public adoption agencies have a duty to fully disclose to the adoptive parents the background information of the child placed for adoption. The adoptive parents have the right to receive all information that may affect their decision to adopt, such as any history of mental illness in the birth family and whether the mother abused drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy.
Any agency that withholds or misrepresents this type of information could be liable for negligent adoption practices. The adoptive parents can sue the agency for wrongful adoption.
An Adoption Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the rights of adoptive parents is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.