Adoption can be complex and emotional for all parties, including birth parents. While birth parents’ rights after adoption can vary depending on state laws and other factors, they are typically terminated once an adoption is final. Birth parents might have the right to petition the court to revoke or overturn an adoption under specific circumstances, including if the parents relinquish their rights under fraud or duress during the adoption process. However, petitioning the court can be difficult and complicated, especially when parents seek to navigate the legal system without the help of an experienced family law attorney.
Courts in Texas rarely reverse a legal adoption and return parental rights to the birth parents. Generally, a judge will only restore parental rights in unique circumstances or where proof exists that the adoption resulted from fraud or coercion.
How Do Parents Legally Relinquish Parental Rights?
For adoption to occur in Texas, a court must terminate the parental rights of one or both birth parents. This act of termination requires parents to relinquish their parental rights voluntarily. Otherwise, a Texas court must have adequate grounds and clear and convincing evidence to involuntarily terminate a person’s parental rights.
The Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights
A child’s biological parents can permanently surrender their parental rights to allow the child to be adopted by another family. They may do this by signing an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. In Texas, birth mothers must wait at least 48 hours after giving birth before they can sign a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. A birth mother might also be required to attend a court hearing to confirm voluntary relinquishment.
A court or adoption agency might need to approve an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment to terminate the birth parents’ legal rights permanently. One or both birth parents might need to appear at a court hearing. The termination of parental rights is typically irreversible, with few exceptions. Generally, biological parents can only overturn an adoption if they can prove they relinquished their parental rights under fraud or coercion.
The Involuntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights
A court can order the termination of parental rights without the parents’ consent if a judge determines it is in the child’s best interests. This can happen for various reasons, including the following:
- Abuse or neglect – The court might terminate the parental rights of a parent that is found to have abused or neglected their child.
- Abandonment – A parent who abandons their child for a specific time might be ordered to relinquish their parental rights, allowing the child to be adopted.
- Failure to support – A parent who fails to financially support a child for a specified time might lose their legal rights and responsibilities.
- Criminal behavior – The court might order the termination of parental rights if a parent is convicted of a crime, such as murder.
The process for involuntary relinquishment of parental rights in Texas typically involves a court hearing where a parent can contest the termination of rights. However, Texas gives courts broad discretion to decide whether clear and convincing evidence exists that indicates termination of parental rights without parental consent is in a child’s best interests. Furthermore, the state might seek the involuntary relinquishment of parental rights if a child is removed from their home and placed in foster care to allow the child to be adopted.
Do Birth Parents Have Any Rights After the Adoption?
In Texas, birth parents’ legal rights and responsibilities are terminated upon adoption, with few exceptions. However, in an open adoption, the birth parents and adoptive parents might agree to specific communication or visitation arrangements that allow the birth parents to maintain a relationship with the adopted child. The parents might agree to exchange contact information or communicate regularly. The adoptive parents might also share photos of the child or updates on their well-being. The birth parents and adoptive parents should outline the terms of the open adoption in a written agreement signed by all parties. You should contact a family law attorney if you plan to create an open adoption agreement.
Contact a San Antonio Family Law Attorney
If you are a birth parent who has surrendered your child for adoption under fraud or coercion, the attorneys of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. can help. While undoing an adoption in Texas is difficult, it is not impossible. Call Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. at (210) 349-9933 or contact us online to discuss your case with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney. Our Sant Antonio family lawyers have extensive experience in all types of adoption cases. At Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., our lawyers dedicate themselves to helping families in Texas.