The decision to create an adoption plan is a difficult one for many birth mothers. And “it doesn’t make you a bad mother to have conflicted feelings,” says psychologist Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., A.D.H.D. Adoption is a complex emotional topic. So, it’s understandable for a birth mother to have a million questions running through her mind. Is adoption the right choice? What if I change my mind? Can I change my mind? Can you cancel an adoption? It is never an easy choice to contact an adoption agency and begin drafting an adoption plan, but it is important to remember that an adoption plan is exactly that – a plan. And plans can change.
Can You Cancel an Adoption?
So, can you cancel an adoption? Yes…up to a certain point in time.
“It is important to note that it is absolutely the right of a birth parent to change their mind regarding placing their child,” says Lita Jordan, Adoption.org. The birth mother is 100 percent in control of her plan throughout the adoption process and “consent to adoption is not valid unless the consent is given after the prospective adoptee is born.” Maryland Citation: Fam. Law § 5-3B-21(2)
So, if at any point during the pregnancy, even after an adoption plan has been created, birth parents have the right to change their mind and choose to parent their child. However, “when the child is adopted, the biological parent relinquishes all responsibility and legal rights,” writes Anna Paul, Metro. “Adoption is a permanent decision, so once a child is adopted, all custodial rights are transferred to their adoptive parents.”
The adoption becomes permanent when the following three conditions are met: 1) the baby is born, 2) birth parents sign the legal paperwork consenting to the adoption, AND 3) the legal revocation period passes. Once these conditions are met, there is no way for a birth mother to reclaim her child or her parental rights.
It is important to note that the revocation period can differ significantly from state to state. “If you are a birth parent, it is crucial that you check the laws in your state,” says Jordan.
Understanding the Revocation Period in Maryland
After the baby is born, birth mothers have a determined amount of time – a revocation period – to change their mind. “Most states will typically have a revocation period of at least a few days that will allow for birth parents to reconsider if they so feel,” explains Jordan. Here in Maryland, birth parents have 30 days in which they can legally change their mind. Should a revocation occur prior to 30 days, the return of the child is automatic.
“A parent may revoke consent to adoption at any time within the later of: 30 days after the parent signs the consent or 30 days after the adoption petition is filed, after which consent is irrevocable.” Maryland Citation: Fam. Law §§ 5-339; 5-351
In situations after the birth of the child when a birth mother expresses uncertainty regarding her adoption plan Adoption Makes Family employs a Cradle Care family who cares for the baby during the 30-day revocation period. While there is no way to completely remove the emotional pain associated with a changed adoption plan, having the baby cared for by a surrogate family for a short time is one small effort we make to help adoptive families through this difficult part of the journey.
Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our experienced professionals will listen to you, answer any questions you may have, and help counsel you so that you make the best decisions for you and your child. Adoption Makes Family is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at email@example.com or use our online contact form.
- “Adoption Consent Laws by State.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/adoption-consent-laws-by-state.
- “Can I Change My Mind About an Adoption?” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/birth-parents/can-i-change-my-mind-about-an-adoption.
- Jordan, Lita. “Can I Change My Mind After Placing My Baby For Adoption?” Adoption.org, adoption.org/can-change-mind-placing-baby-adoption.
- Paul, Anna. “Can Biological Parents Regain Custody of Their Child after Adoption?” Metro, Metro.co.uk, 28 Oct. 2020, https://metro.co.uk/2020/10/28/can-biological-parents-regain-custody-of-their-child-after-adoption-13474078/.
- “‘What Does Adoption Mean to a Child?”.” American Adoptions – Transracial Adoption, Interracial Adoption for African American Adoption and More, www.americanadoptions.com/pregnant/getting_your_baby_back.
- “What If I Change My Mind About Placing My Baby During My Pregnancy?” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/what-if-i-change-my-mind-about-placing-my-baby-during-my-pregnancy.