Can a Birth Parent Change Their Mind?

Today is the 13th day of National Adoption Month!
See the rest of the Adoption Month posts here.

This week I am answering questions about the private domestic infant adoption process and our experience.  Well, basically just our experience.  I’m not an expert and I can only say how it happened for us of course!
Yesterday I posted about open adoption.  Today, I’m addressing the question we got a lot when we’d been chosen by Anthony’s birth mom but he hadn’t been born yet:
“What if she changes her mind?”

It’s different in each state, but for Washington state, a birth parent has 48 hours after signing the parental rights relinquishment paperwork to change their mind.  And it’s actually more than 48 hours in actuality: the “period of risk”, let’s call it, ends when the adoption lawyer can turn in the paperwork to court.  Plus, even if the paperwork is signed long before the baby is born, the clock doesn’t start until the baby is born.

For instance, if the paperwork is signed a week before the baby is born, and then it is born on a Thursday, then the clock starts the day it is born.  But 48 hours from that is a Saturday, and of course the courts aren’t in session on the weekend.  So the earliest court appearance the lawyer can make is Monday morning, so “48 hours” really looks more like “96 hours” in that case.

Anyways, Washington state actually has one of the shortest periods of legal risk; a few states have more than that, but as far as I know they are all under one month.

So at any time during that period, the birth mother or birth father can change their mind at any time and decide to take parental custody.

In our case, Anthony’s birth parents signed the paperwork before he was born and he was born on a Wednesday morning.  The lawyer was able to get to court on Friday morning, and we took him home from the hospital on Friday night.  We are so blessed to have such a great relationship with Anthony’s birth mom and she had allowed us to stay at the hospital those first two nights and have Anthony in our room from the beginning.  I’ll post more about our specific story later this week, but the gist of it is that I worried about the legal risk period from the moment we decided to adopt until the moment we got the text from the lawyer that it was official.  But I’m a worrier, and God was in control, and Anthony’s birth parents had only his best interest and our feelings at heart; they were so great about making their intent known.  But I worried nonetheless; it was the scariest thing we’d ever done. To be continued…!!!

Thanks for reading!
Just a reminder that while I pre-write posts for the most part, this week I am writing in real time; if you have any questions you’d like me to address this week, I’d love to answer them.  Please fill out the contact form and let me know your question!  Please also specify if you’d like your name kept anonymous.

Happy Monday!

Filed under: Adoption, November 2017