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What is relinquishment and how does relinquishment work in adoption?

Relinquishment, also known as “voluntarily termination of parental rights” or “consent to adoption,” is the process where the birth mother gives her consent for her child to legally become the child of another family. Once this process has occurred, the birth mother has no remaining legal or financial responsibility for the child. Adoption Choices of Arizona adoption specialist will go through the paperwork and the entire process with you – you will never be alone!

There is no law requiring unwed birth fathers to be involved in the relinquishment process. Legally, a birth father can only preserve his right to veto an adoption; he cannot initiate one himself. Therefore, an unwed male who discovers that he is to become a father should immediately acknowledge paternity and should communicate with and support the birth mother while she is contemplating adoption if he desires to be involved in the selection of a family to raise his child.

With a domestic adoption, once adoptive parents have signed a placement agreement in which they consent to adopt a particular child, that child will usually be temporarily placed with them upon discharge from the hospital (shortly after birth). The actual placement process varies slightly from agency to agency and from state to state.

The final adoption cannot take place until the birth mother has officially signed a voluntary waiver of parental rights/petition for adoption. In most states, there is a set rule governing the earliest time that the birth mother can sign these papers. In most cases, the waiver cannot be signed until the baby has actually been born. Typically, signing occurs in the hospital or in the days following the birth. Again, your adoption specialist will review the paperwork with you and ensure you fully understand the process, what it means, and takes place within a time frame governed by the law.

In domestic adoptions, the last legal step is a court session finalizing the adoption. This is a very short court appearance, usually only taking about 15 minutes, and does not require presence of the birth mother or father. The judge, lawyer, and adoptive parents will be present, and sometimes the social worker that has worked with the family will also make an appearance depending on state requirements. The adoptive parents will be required to take the stand and state the date of their marriage (if applicable), the child’s birth date and the date of placement. The judge will ask a number of questions to verify that the parents understand the legal implications of accepting the child for adoption. After all the questions and answers are completed, the judge will formally sign off on the adoption decree, finalizing the adoption once and for all.

Within several weeks the court will issue a “Delayed Certificate of Birth” which documents the child’s new legal name and adoptive parents.

If you have more questions regarding parent relinquishment in adoption, please contact one of our adoption specialist!