Family Law

Rights of Birth Parents and Grandparents After Adoption

Raising a child from birth involves important responsibilities. If the birth parents are unable or unwilling to meet their responsibilities, they may voluntarily place their child for adoption. Birth parents may also have their parental rights involuntarily terminated if they act in an abusive or neglectful manner towards their child.

The adoption process is a matter of state law. The effect of an adoption on the rights of the birth parents and grandparents varies by state. In every state, birth parents have the right to place their child for adoption. When grandparents are the child's legal guardians, the grandparents can place the child for adoption.

State Laws on Collection of Information About Birth Families

Each state requires a report be prepared for every child placed for adoption and that the report include information about the birth parents. The type of information required varies by state, as do the laws on who can access the information. In general, the birth parents must provide a medical and genetic history, including mental health information. Some states require information on any drug use by the mother during pregnancy.

Information must also be provided regarding family, social, racial, and religious background. Several states require the grandparents to provide this information. Most states only include this information in the adoption report in such a way that does not identify the birth parents or grandparents. However, the states of Colorado and New York require that the adoption report include the birth parents' names, addresses, and other identifying information.

Birth Parents' Rights After Adoption

As a result of the adoption process, the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated. However, this does not necessarily mean that the birth parents must lose all contact with a child. A post-adoption agreement can be made with the adoptive parents that allows for contact and communication between the birth parents and adopted child. Such agreements can be based on informal discussions or prepared as a written contract. Approximately half of the states have passed laws recognizing post-adoption contracts and making them enforceable.

Grandparents' Rights After Adoption

The adoption of a biological grandchild affects grandparents' rights to have contact with that grandchild. If both birth parents agree to place their child with an agency, the grandparents generally do not have any right to contest the adoption or to seek visitation rights.

The same is true if the adoption followed an involuntary termination of the birth parents' rights. However, if the adoption is a stepparent adoption in involving the spouse of one of the birth parents, most states permit the grandparents to seek visitation rights.

An Adoption Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding the rights of birth parents and grandparents after adoption is complicated and varies from state to state. 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.

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