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Birth Mother and Birth Father
Termination of Parental Rights

Birth parents have parental rights which cannot be legally ended except by appropriate state law.  Read below to find out about your rights.

Termination of Parental Rights

The biological mother, the biological mother's husband (even if she is separated) and the biological father (if he is not the woman's husband), all have parental rights to the child once the child has been born.  The specifics of these rights and how they are ended are spelled out in the adoption law of every U.S. state and territory.

Since a child can only have one set of parents, the law requires that the parental rights of the biological mother, biological father, and the mother's husband if he is not the biological father, be ended before the child can be adopted by other persons. The ending of parental rights, called termination, surrender, or relinquishment of parental rights, ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once the relationship has been terminated, the child is legally free to be adopted.  

Sometimes the parental rights can be voluntarily ended immediately after the child's birth but sometimes it can be 3 days, 5 days, 15 days, or in excess of 30 days after the child's birth before the parental rights are finally ended; it all depends on the state adoption law.  Due to the seriousness and permanent nature of ending parental rights, every state has strict requirements that must be met prior to making this decision and specific requirements on how the parental rights are to be ended.

You may want to check the state adoption laws on the website Laws for Child Adoption, under the heading "termination of parental rights", of the state in which the birth father and birth mother reside.  You will also find the Child Welfare Information Gateway article Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights to be helpful.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Birth parents who wish to place their children for adoption may voluntarily relinquish their rights as discussed above.  However, there may be times when the birth parent(s will not relinquish their parental rights voluntarily but their parental rights can be terminated involuntarily if certain conditions are met.  For an involuntary ending of parental rights most state laws require that a parent be found unfit through one or more specific reasons and that ending the biological parent-child relationship will be in the child's best interest.  The most common grounds for the involuntary ending of parental rights include those listed below, but remember that each state has its own requirements:

  • Severe or chronic abuse or neglect of the child or of other children in the household
  • Long-term mental illness or deficiency of the parent or long-term alcohol or drug-induced incapacity of the parent
  • Abandonment or failure to support or maintain contact with the child
  • Felony conviction of the parent for a crime of violence against a child or another family member, or a conviction for any felony when the length of the incarceration is such a length of time as to have a negative impact on the child.


Additional Resources and Help

For related information please visit the link Birth  Father rights and the website page Adoption Laws and Rights.

We truly care about you and your baby and about other birth mothers and birth fathers in your situation. We want to do everything possible to help you and your child.  There are many kinds assistance programs available to help you and other pregnant women, birth mothers and children free of charge.  These include financial, medical, nutritional and health assistance programs as well as a variety of support and information groups. If you need help you can click this link to find all kinds of assistance programs. And the following links will help you find pregnancy support groups as well as parenting and adoption support groups.  If you want our help you can call us anytime and from any place in the U.S. toll free. You can get our help whether you are pregnant or have already delivered and are raising your child yourself or want to place your child for adoption. We are here to help you and there is never any cost or obligation on your part. 

If you are considering placing your child for adoption we are also here to help.  We would be happy to help find a safe and loving home with a family that has been very carefully and thoroughly screened. We can help you regardless of what state you are in.  Our services to you are free, your medical and legal expenses will be provided for and we will make sure that you receive whatever reimbursement for housing, lost wages and living expenses that state laws allow.  You may reach me or my staff by calling our toll free number or you can contact us by email.  If there is anything we can do to help you and your baby, please contact us.

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