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Can Biological Parents Change Their Mind?

Can biological parents change their minds after giving the child up for adoption? Well, in most cases, it is not an option. 

What Does “Adoption” Mean?

In most cases, adoption is final and cannot be “undone.” When you give a child up for adoption, you are relinquishing your parental rights to the child. You will no longer have any obligation to the child, financial or otherwise, and you will also not have any ability to make any decisions on behalf of the child. When your child is adopted by another person, you will no longer have any legal relationship to the child, and you will not have any rights to the child, especially if it’s a closed adoption. Adoption is not a temporary arrangement, and is not synonymous with having full custody, or being a legal guardian. In either a temporary or permanent guardianship, parental rights aren’t terminated. The child’s legal guardians will only have the ability to make the decisions that the court allows them to make. The legal guardians and the biological parents are required to follow the order of the court regarding legal and physical custody of the child. 

For example: Let’s say that a child is living with her grandparents because both her mother and father are fighting a drug addiction. A judge may rule that the grandparents have legal custody of the child while the parents are working through their addiction. But that does not mean that the grandparents have legally adopted the child. It also does not mean that the biological parent(s) may not have parent-time with the child. Although this time generally comes with some conditions, restrictions, or requirements.

Relinquishing Parental Rights

Some parents may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, assuming there is another person who is willing to adopt the child (most commonly known as Step-parent-adoption). For example, a mother doesn’t want to be a part of her child’s life but the father is very involved with the child. When the father remarries, his new wife could adopt the child, assuming the biological mother consented to the adoption. If nobody is willing to adopt the child in the place of the parent who wishes to relinquish their rights, then the parent usually cannot relinquish their rights. However, exceptions may be made in extraordinary circumstances. When a child is given up for adoption, the biological parents relinquish all of their legal rights and obligations to the child. So if your ex’s new spouse adopts your child, the new spouse will be the child’s parent in the eyes of the law.

“What If I Change My Mind?”

If you’ve given up your child for adoption, but you change your mind, what happens to the child will depend on your circumstances. In almost all cases, relinquishing your parental rights is generally irrevocable pursuant to Utah law. Judges always want to act within the best interests of the child. When it comes to whether or not adoptive parents can “re-adopt” their biological children, DNA will not be the only factor the court considers. Usually, it is not in the child’s best interest to have a new living arrangement, especially when they’ve spent most of their lives with one set of parents.

“But I Didn’t Know about the Child!”

Judges generally do not want to re-arrange a child’s life when the child is happy and thriving in their current environment, especially when they’ve got loving and supportive parents. The longer the child has been adopted by their adoptive parents, the more difficult it may be for the biological father to prove it’s in the child’s best interests to be adopted by the biological father. This would still be very difficult; if you are a father in this situation, you need to speak with a family law attorney as soon as you possibly can.

Change of Circumstances

In some cases, family members of the biological parents have stepped in and adopted a child when the parents couldn’t adequately care for the child. Sometimes the biological parents are involved in circumstances that make it difficult to care for a baby such as substance abuse, incarceration, or teenage pregnancy.  In these cases, it isn’t uncommon for family members such as grandparents, siblings, or aunts and uncles to legally adopt the child. “Re-adopting” the child is not normally possible if the child’s adoptive parents do not wish for the adoption to take place, or the child does not wish to be “re-adopted” by the biological parent.

When You Have Questions

If you have questions about adoption, you may need to speak with an attorney in order to ensure that your family’s best interests are protected. At CoilLaw, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you get the best outcome possible for your family. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.



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