Birth Mother Rights
Under Minnesota law, a woman who gives birth to a child has “parental rights” to the child. These include the right to have the child live with you, to raise the child, and to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including the right to decide to place the child for adoption.
If a birth mother wants to place the child for adoption, she signs a consent to adoption form. Once a birth mother signs a proper consent to an adoption, the law requires that the mother be given ten working days for her to change her mind. After the ten days are up, the consent may not be revoked by the mother unless the court finds that the mother’s consent was obtained through fraud.
Consent to Adoption
In Minnesota, a Consent to Adoption is signed by a birth mother (and birth father, if he’s involved) after the child’s birth. The Consent has to follow certain legal requirements to be valid. The most important rules are:
- The Consent cannot be signed until at least 72 hours (3 days) after birth.
- Once the Consent is signed, the birth parent has 10 working days until the Consent is irrevocable.
- The Consent must be signed before a licensed adoption agency who has provided counseling to the birth parent or in front of a judge.
- The birth mother’s attorney must be present when the Consent is signed.
- These rules are specific to Minnesota. Other states may have completely different rules.
- A Consent usually gives a specific adoptive family choosen by the birth mother the right to adopt. In some cases, a Consent can be given to an adoption agency which then chooses the adoptive family, although this is relatively rare.
- In Minnesota, a birth mother is entitled both to her own attorney and to counseling regarding the adoption. The law requires the adoptive family to pay all fees for those services.
Open adoption refers to an adoption in which the birth mother may meet the adoptive parents and receive information from them about the child as the child grows up.
Birth mothers may want the adoptive parents to come to doctor’s visits with her before the birth, to have them at the hospital when the baby is born, and be involved in caring for the baby in the hospital. She can also make whatever arrangements for future contact she wants with the adoptive family. This may include receiving letters and pictures or having visits with the child. In most cases, these arrangements are put into a written letter or agreement.
If both the birth and adoptive parents agree, the arrangements for future contact can be put into a Court Order which requires everyone to follow the written agreement. This Order must be approved by the Minnesota court in which the adoption is taking place and must be in the child’s best interests. If the adoption is finalized in another state, a Court Order might not be available.
A birth father may not have any legal right to be notified of or be involved in an adoption. He only has rights to the child if he takes responsibility for the child’s well-being, including financial support. For more information on birth father’s rights, go to that section.