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Family Law Blog

Birth Parent Rights After an Adoption

Published: Sep 01, 2017 in Adoption

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Whether you are choosing to give a child up for adoption or are a prospective adoptive parent, you may wonder what birth parents’ rights are after an adoption. Do biological parents have any right to remain involved? Can they be required to make any future financial contributions? If you are unfamiliar with the formalities and laws surrounding adoptions, you probably have several questions regarding each participants’ rights and obligations. Typically, birth parents lose all parental rights once an adoption is finalized. However, there can be nuances to this depending on an adoption agreement between the biological and adoptive parents.

For more information on adoption, try visiting the National Council for Adoption or the Child Welfare Information Gateway

Adoption Completely Transfers Parental Rights

Under Pennsylvania law, a formal adoption of a child transfers all parental rights from one or two adults (or the state) to another adult or couple. The biological parents who originally had the right to physical custody of the child/the ability to make decisions for their son or daughter lose all of their parental rights through adoption. They also no longer have any financial obligation to the child. Once the adoption process is complete, the adoptive parents gain all parental rights over the child, including physical and legal custody. The adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents in every way, and the biological parents have no rights or duties in regard to the child.

Birth Parents Can Lose Parental Rights Prior to Adoption

Depending on the situation, the biological parents’ rights may have already been voluntarily or involuntarily terminated prior to the child being adopted. Individuals may voluntarily terminate their parental rights if they are unable or unfit to care for their son or daughter. If adoptive parents are not yet available, then the child goes into the foster care system. The state can also move to have a court involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights based on abuse or neglect, which can also lead to a child entering the foster care system prior to adoption. If the child is adopted in the future, the adoptive parents receive their parental rights from the state, and the birth parents do not have to consent.

Contact Between Adopted Children and Their Birth Parents

Once biological parents lose their parental rights either voluntarily or involuntarily, they no longer have the right to time or communication with the child. However, adoptive and birth parents can agree to keep in contact, allowing the birth parents to receive news about the child, or even to meet with the child throughout their life. This is an open adoption. Birth parents must keep in mind that if circumstances change, the adoptive parents have the right to not allow them to see, interact with, or contact the child.

Birth Parents’ Right to Anonymity

Birth parents in Pennsylvania have the right to have the adoption records sealed and to remain anonymous. Many biological parents who give children up for adoption do not wish to interfere with the child’s new life or to be contacted in the future. Anonymity enables birth parents to move forward with their lives separately from their birth child.

Once adopted children turn 18, they may be able to obtain non-identifying information regarding their birth parents through adoption records without a court order. However, if a child wishes to obtain contact information for their birth parents who are currently anonymous, they would need to seek a court order to release this information or contact the adoption agency that handled their case.

If birth parents tell the adoption agency they want to be anonymous, then the agency will not provide the adoptive parents or child any of the birth parents’ information in the future. The agency may contact birth parents asking for permission to give information to an inquisitive child, but the birth parents can decline and remain anonymous.

Speak With an Adoption Lawyer to Learn More

If you wish to move forward with an adoption, contact an experienced adoption attorney today. An adoption lawyer can explain your rights as prospective adoptive parents before, during, and after the adoption process. They can also explain the potential roles of the birth parents during closed or open adoptions. You may find some