What Does It Take To Gain Custody Of A Child That's Been Given Up For Adoption?
Even though fathers have equal rights to children they help conceive with their partners, it is not uncommon for them to be left out of the decision-making process when those partners decide to put the children up for adoption. In many cases, this is because the fathers are not in the picture or indicated they don't want anything to do with the kids. However, if your child has been adopted out without your consent and you want to gain custody of him or her, here's what you need to do.
Contact the Adopted Parents ASAP
Although you may not have known about the adoption until it had occurred, the amount of time you have to object to the adoption and start the process of undoing it is limited. The amount of time you have varies depending on which state you live in, your marital status, and the circumstances surrounding your role in the process.
In Alabama, for instance, you will only have one year after the final adoption decree to object if you can show consent for the adoption was obtained by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence. If the co-parent forged your name on the consent documents, you could contest the adoption, for example.
The rules differ between states, so it's essential you research what those rules are where you live and take the recommended steps to file your objection. It's probably best to have a family law attorney help you with this aspect of the case.
To claim your parental rights towards the child given up for adoption, you must prove the child is, in fact, yours. For parents with biological ties to the kids, this can easily be done via a simple DNA test. However, this only works if the child were conceived using biological matter from the father.
In cases where the children were conceived using donor material, proving paternity can be infinitely more difficult. Instead of proving biological paternity, you would have to show that you and the child's mother intended to have a baby together, the use of donor material was part of the process, and you were to be the child's legal parent.
For example, same-sex couples using donor sperm or eggs (and/or a surrogate) would need to produce medical records, receipts, and other materials showing what was discussed regarding the conception of children and any procedures either party underwent to achieve the goal of having kids. Even that may not be enough, unfortunately, as some states still only recognize the rights of biological parents and not those of same-sex partners who have no biological connection. You will definitely need the assistance of a family law attorney versed in LGBT issues to help with this part of the process.
After formally objecting to the adoption and proving paternity (or that you have parental rights to the child), you will need to then prove you are capable and willing to care for the child should you be award custody. You may well be within your rights to stop the adoptions. However, the court's primary objective is to do what's in the best interests of the child. If you are unable to adequately care for the kid(s), the court may deny your request and allow the adoption to continue.
Proving your commitment and capability of parenting will typically involve submitting information to the court about your finances, living situation, and any support you may have around you to help you with the kids. You may also be required to undergo counseling or psychological testing to determine if you are fit to parent. If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, a criminal record, or haven't been involved in the pregnancy at all even though you knew about it, the court may not be inclined to rule in your favor.
For more information about this issue or help getting custody of your kid from an adoptive family, contact an attorney at offices like the Stoddard Law Firm.