Adoption is a highly-charged emotional process that often leaves birth parents second-guessing themselves. What seemed like a sensible decision may give way to feelings of having made a terrible mistake in the weeks following the completion of the adoption process. If you're having second thoughts about giving up your child, you may be able to get him or her back.
The government recognizes there are times when birth parents may change their minds about allowing other people to adopt their children. Therefore, adoption laws in almost every province and territory allow parents to revoke their consent to the adoption as long as they do so within a certain period of time. Birth mothers in British Columbia, for example, have 30 days to revoke their consent to adoptions, after which they will no longer have a say in what happens to their children.
Other entities, such as the courts and the children themselves, may also revoke consent to the placement. The amount of time they have to do this will vary depending on the entity and the circumstances. The adoption agency or a family law attorney can provide information about the revocation laws in your area.
Overturning an Adoption
It's important to state upfront that once an adoption has been legalized, it is extremely difficult to get it reversed. The primary concern of the court is the best interests of the child. If there is no compelling reason why the adoption should be undone, you will not prevail in court.
However, that doesn't mean it is impossible to get your child back once he or she has been legally adopted. There are a couple of ways you can accomplish this feat.
+ Mutual Agreement
The courts may reverse the procedure if the adoptive parents agree to give the child back to you. In this case, you and the adoptive parents can present your case to the court together. The circumstances of the arrangement will play an integral part of whether or not the court will grant your petition.
A court may consider reversing the adoption if:
- The adoptive parents indicate the relationship with the child has been severely damaged and irreparable. It should be clear that leaving the child with the adoptive parents would do more harm than good.
- The adoptive parents are no longer able to care for the child due to severe illness, death of a co-parent, serious disability or aging. It should be clear to the court that it's the circumstances preventing the adoptive parents from performing their parental duties and that they are not motivated by the desire to simply stop being responsible for the child.
- The child has a dangerous or severe medical problem that was not disclosed beforehand.
Even with the adoptive parent's blessing, the court may not reverse the adoption. If the petition is granted, however, the child's birth certificate will be reverted back to its original condition.
+ Fraud or Misrepresentation
Another possible avenue for getting your child back is to prove you gave up your parental rights under fraudulent circumstances. The fraud can occur in a couple of ways:
- The agency failing to obtain consent from the birth parents or acquiring consent under false or questionable pretenses. The law requires parents to be of sound mind when they sign over their parental rights. For example, if a mother signs the consent form while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, she could contest the adoption at a later date for that reason.
- Misrepresentation by the adoptive parents may also be grounds for an adoption reversal. If the parents lied about their name, criminal record or activity, or anything the courts deem would have a negative impact on the child, then you may have a case for getting your child back.
Before you put in the time and effort petitioning the court to reverse your child's adoption, it's essential that you think long and hard about this course of action because you will be upending many lives with this action. If you feel you want to continue on this path, the first step is to contact a family lawyer who can look over your case and help you develop a strategy that may lead you to getting your child back.