Consent to Adopt (Glossary)

Consent to Adopt: A consent to adopt is an agreement that between two parties that allows a child to be released for adoption. Usually, this agreement is between a parent or a person or agency representing a parent, agreeing that the child may be released for adoption and all rights to that child are relinquished by said parent or guardian.

Each state regulates the consent to adopt and has their own laws and regulations regarding the consent to adopt. The laws are set in place to protect and provide for the parents, the child and the adoptive parents involved.

The consent to adopt is given by the person who has legal custody of the child. This may be the parent of the child, an adoption agency representing the child, a county or state facility or court that has guardianship of the child, and sometimes a relative or non-relative acquaintance who is the legal guardian of the child until an adoption plan is set in place.

Consent of adoption will most likely be made by that legal guardian of the child, whoever that may be. However, in several states, the court may decide or mandate that an older child give their own consent to be adopted, unless that child has been deemed unable to give consent because of mental or physical disabilities.

As stated before, states mandate their own rules and regulations when it comes to the consent to adopt. Some states may require counseling for the birthparents and/or adoptive parents. Some may require one hearing to make the consent, some may require two. Also, in various states, a minor birthmom may be required to retain her own counsel to appear in the hearing to give consent.

In several states, a revocation of consent to adopt is available. This usually happens after the initial consent has been made, but before the finalization of the adoption. Reasons that a court would allow a revocation is if fraud has been proven during the process to obtain the consent to adopt, if the consent to adopt has been proven not to be in the best interest of the child. Also, in some states, a birthmom may have a specific number of days to consider her decision after the consent has been signed. If she decides within that period of time that she wants to change her mind, the consent to adopt is then revoked. Finally, some states also allow a revocation if there is a mutual agreement between both parties involved to revoke the consent to adopt.

State law varies widely concerning when the earliest point in time is when a binding Consent may be signed by a birth parent, with the earliest being before the child is born and the latest being 15 days after the birth. Generally, a Consent to Adoption differs from a Relinquishment that is most often used in an agency adoption, since a Consent to Adoption passes the parental rights of the birthparents directly to the adoptive parents that they have chosen, while the Relinquishment passes the parental rights to the agency, which in turn passes them on to adoptive parents, which may or may not have been selected by the birthparents.