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Adoption: Parental rights must be terminated

There's nothing quite as exciting as finally starting the adoption process when you're ready to add to your family. There are steps that have to take place before an adoption can occur, though. One of those steps is to make sure the parental rights of the child's birth parents have been terminated.

To terminate a parent's rights, the court must have a hearing. A judge then has to issue a decree permanently ending the parental rights of a birth parent. Children still bound to their birth parents legally are unable to be adopted out to a new family.

The court can decide to take away a parent's rights against his or her wishes or at his or her request. Sometimes, parents have a right to appeal if their parental rights were taken without consent, so it's always a good idea to have your attorney present to verify that the parental rights of the child you want to adopt have been terminated appropriately.

There are cases where a child may be placed with a family before the child's birth parents have their rights terminated. Those cases are called a legal risk, and they have the potential to fall through. If you're looking for an infant, for example, this is often a high-risk adoption. Mothers sometimes change their minds and have a right to do so within a specified time frame.

Whether you're interested in a low- or high-risk adoption, your attorney can help you make sure all the correct documents are filed. This is a happy time in your life, and although it may take some time to complete the adoption, it can move more smoothly with legal help.

Source: National Adoption Center, "Adoption Laws," accessed April 27, 2017

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