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Can I Reverse an Adoption?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

While some adoptions can add more life and joy to a family, not all adoptions work out as planned. Sometimes adoptive parents just aren't as ready or able to care for an adopted child as they thought they were. It also happens that an adopted child grows up and apart from the parents who adopted her. Or a child's birth parents want custody back.

Adoption can be the right choice for so many children and families. But if an adoption goes wrong, here are a few ways it can be fixed.

Reversal From Adoptee

It's possible to outgrow an adoption. Maybe you reconnect with your birth parents, or you start a new and healthier relationship. Unfortunately, however, there is no "undo" button for adoptions, so technically you can't reverse an adoption that has already happened.

You can, however, begin the process for a new adoption. Once that process is complete, the old adoption will lose its legal power.

Reversal From Adoptive Parents

Adoptive parents rarely try to have an adoption vacated due to the extensive pre-adoption screening process and the parents' desire to make the relationship work. If the relationship between the adoptive parents and adopted child is truly fractured, the adoptive parents may petition the court to dissolve the adoption.

While state adoption laws can vary, nearly all adoption and custody decisions are made in the child's best interests. So if adoptive parents can demonstrate that reversing the adoption is better for the adoptee's wellbeing, a court may reverse the adoption.

Reversal From Birth Parents

This may be the hardest way to reverse an adoption. While there are many ways a birth parent can have parental rights terminated, getting parental rights reinstated following termination can be difficult, if not impossible.

Normally, a parent will have to demonstrate an extraordinary improvement in their ability to care for a child in order for a court to reinstate parental rights. Some states simply don't provide for reinstatement if rights have been terminated.

If you need legal assistance with an adoption, you should consult with an experienced adoption attorney near you.

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