Legality and Parental rights in adoption

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2005
Legality and Parental rights in adoption
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 12:00pm

I became pregnant, quite unexpectedly, as I was taking birth control. I cannot care for this child as he or she needs and deserves, so I have come to the decision of finding a childless couple to love and care for my baby. But it isn't that simple. The child's father is in prison and is two months into an eight and a half year sentance.

I live in Florida, and he is considered a habitual re-offender as this is his third incarceration for the same offense. I do not want his family to care for my baby as they do not have the financial resources, and I want my child to have a stable home with a mother and a father, not to be passed around among all the family members. His parents have asked for the baby, but they are already providing support for his other two children and sending money to him in prison and can barely pay their bills as it is. I want what's best for the baby, not what's best for them. 

I want to know what his parental rights are since he's incarcerated. I know in normal situations, a father can contest the adoption and gain custody of the child as long as he can prove that he can give the child a better home, but obviously, he cannot, sicne he is going to be in prison for the next eight years. I have also read that he can refuse to sign the Termination of Parental rights, but again, since he cannot physically parent the child himself, a judge can sign an involuntary Termination of Parent Rights. I've seen that he would still have the right to visitation, but I know in the state of Florida, in order for him to have visitation, he would have to pay child support, and again, obviously, he cannot. 

I don't want this to be some huge battle, and I honestly have no idea how he is going to take the news that I'm expecting, to begin with. I'm guessing his parents will tell him once I've begun the second trimester. I really only want what's best for the baby, and I know it isn't with his family. I'm going to speak with a local adoption agency once they are in their office again, but this is really bothering me and stressing me out.

Does anyone know ANYTHING about the laws in this situation? Please, can someone help me? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 12:24pm
I think you should talk to an adoption counselor in your state. I know that in my state, they will post an announcement in the classified section of a newspaper that a baby was born to <insert mother's name> on <date> and that an adoption is pending. The bio dad has 30 days (I think) to come forward to object. Since he knows about the baby, it might be different. I don't believe the grandparents have a say. It sounds like there are so many variables in your situation that I really do think an adoption counselor would be your best bet for advice.

Are you married to him? If not, then adoption might be easier.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2005
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 1:55pm

We are not married, (Thank Heaven) and I am not sure if his being a prisoner diminishes his rights in this situation at all. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-11-2008
Mon, 10-15-2012 - 1:09pm

Have you been able to contact an adoption agency for adoption counseling yet?  They would be your best bet for advice on laws in your state.  Each state is different.

I believe that the grandparents do not have a say in if you decide to place your child for adoption or not (as long as both parents are over the age of 18).  Do you think there is any chance that he would be willing to sign over rights to the child?  If not there may not be a whole lot that you can do.  Do not sign away your legal rights until he is committed to doing so as well.  If you terminate your rights and he still has his then his parents could patition the court for custody. Are you and the bio father still on good terms?  Can you openly discuss your concerns with him?  Most states also have what is considered open adoption where even though you have signed off of your parental rights you can have communication with the adoptive family.  Most are willing to send letters and pictures of the child and may even agree to allow visitation form time to time.  Would he possibly be willing to sign off if he is able to know that the child is being loved and cared for in a way that neither of you can give them at this point in your lives?

We adopted our two oldest sons out of fostercare in PA.  The mother of the oldest and father of both were both incarcarated.  Both mothers voluntarily signed over rights but the father refused even though he accepted a plea agreement of 10-20 years state prison for child abuse.  It was quite a process to have his parental rights terminated.  One of the things they looked at was his ability to care for and support his children.  Was he able to pay child support and or meet any of their physical and emotional needs.  They also took his criminal history into consideration.  Since this was a fostercare situation and not the same as what you are decribing I'm not sure if it would play out the same or not.

I wanted to wish you luck and offer support as you make the best decision possible for yourself and your baby.




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