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What Is A Reverse Adoption?

Reverse adoption is a serious legal process that judges are not anxious to approve. Yet a biological parent’s rights concerning adoption are powerful. As a result, if you seek a reverse adoption under your biological parent’s rights, you need to consult a adoption attorney well versed in adoption law. The process for a reverse adoption is also called a vacation or annulment of the adoption. 
Who Can Be Granted a Reverse Adoption?
The law is clear that the biological parent’s rights are powerful in child custody cases. Therefore, the biological parent’s rights for ending an adoption will carry weight with the court if they can be backed up by a compelling reason that was not presented in the original hearing. In addition, the adoptive parents can file a petition with the court for a reverse adoption. Even a child, if old enough, can seek a reverse adoption. While the laws for ending an adoption are quite strict, even a biological parent’s rights may not be enough. However, if a reverse adoption is granted, the child’s birth certificate will be changed back to its original status. 

It is important to realize that even if there are errors or missing information in the original adoption decree, there is a time limit in which to file for a reverse adoption, even to honor a biological parent’s rights. That period varies by jurisdiction, but it can range from a few months to as much as a year. If the reason for ending an adoption is more complex, the court is more likely to extend that time limit.

Often, the biological parent’s rights to a reverse adoption can depend on the consent of the adoptive parents. Yet in many cases, without mitigating evidence, even if the adoptive parents are willing to agree to ending an adoption, a biological parent’s rights may not be compelling enough. In most cases, in order for you to be granted a reverse adoption, you must be able to prove that the original adoption was flawed or fraudulent, or that the circumstances have changed to such a degree that it is in the best interests of the child to grant the reverse adoption. 

Grounds for Ending an Adoption
At one time, courts were reluctant to interfere in private family relationships. Often ending an adoption was part of restoring that secure family structure. Today, judges are more interested in ensuring the best interests of the child, especially when considering ending an adoption. Therefore, if you, under a biological parent’s rights, have sufficient grounds to prove that ending an adoption will benefit the child, the judge will be more likely to consider a reverse adoption. 

What are some grounds for ending an adoption or doing a reverse adoption?
  • New information that the adoptive parents lied about their name; covered up a criminal record; had serious, previously hidden, criminal activity that would be a detriment to the child; or had other background or activities detrimental to the child can lead to a reverse adoption.
  • A charge by the adoptive parents that the child has a serious or dangerous medical condition that was not revealed before the adoption can lead to ending an adoption.
  • New information that the biological parent’s rights were abused because one of them did not consent to the adoption can cause a reverse adoption. This can happen when the father’s biological parent’s rights are ignored and he does not even know that he has a child, much less that it was given up for adoption. Violating his biological parent’s rights can be grounds for a reverse adoption.
  • If, under biological parent’s rights, a parent claims they consented to the adoption under extreme duress, the judge may consider granting a reverse adoption. However, there must be clear evidence that the duress was real and extreme, and that ending an adoption is in the best interests of the child, not necessarily in the best interests of the biological parent’s rights.
  • A statement by the adoptive parents that their relationship with the child has deteriorated so that the adoption is no longer beneficial to the child or to them can cause a judge to consider ending an adoption, although this is not always enough to result in a reverse adoption. This type of argument can also be based on the fact that the adoptive parents have aged quickly or become ill so that they are no longer able to care for the adopted child. However, if this type of plea is based on merely wanting to avoid the responsibility of caring for the child, a judge may not consider it grounds for ending an adoption.
  • Family members of the adoptive parents may try to sue for a reverse adoption if the adoptive parents have died and those family members do not want to share the inheritance with the adopted child. This will only be successful if the judge believes that ending an adoption will be in the best interests of the child.
  • An adopted child who seeks a reverse adoption in order to claim an inheritance from their biological parents or wishes to reclaim their birth identity can be grounds for ending an adoption. There are cases where judges have agreed that ending an adoption for these reasons is valid, but others have not. These kinds of petitions are considered on a case-by-case basis and depend a great deal on the judge who hears them whether he considers them grounds for ending an adoption.
Ending an Adoption
If any of those petitions leads to a hearing, all parties must appear at the hearing to decide whether there are grounds for a reverse adoption. If any living person relevant to the case does not appear, the hearing will generally be postponed until all can be present or their testimony can be legally obtained. The biological parent’s rights are then considered, as are those of the child and the adoptive parents. Biological parent’s rights are an important consideration to family court judges; however, in all but a few cases that could be pursued for ending an adoption, those biological parent’s rights were considered relinquished when the original adoption degree was signed. 
In addition, the best interests of the child are supreme. It is not always what the child thinks, or what the parents think are their biological parent’s rights, but what the judge and other experts attest to that can lead to ending an adoption.
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