Adoption is a legal process. The child's legal parents must agree to an adoption in court or in front of a judge or social worker.
If you want to terminate, or end, your parental responsibilities, you must sign a Final and Irrevocable Consent to Adoption. This is a form that says you agree to give up your rights as a parent. This gives the adopting parents the legal right to take on full legal parental responsibilities.
Sometimes parents try to terminate their parental rights and give up their child for adoption by signing a document called Final and Irrevocable Consent to Adoption in front of a lawyer or notary. This will not end parental responsibility over the child.
Agreeing to give up parental responsibilities cannot be undone unless you can show you were forced or tricked into signing the paper. So it is important that you understand the legal effect of signing a paper that ends your parental responsibilities.
Declaring a non-consenting parent unfit
If your child's other parent does not agree to give the child up for adoption, the adopting parents can ask the court to declare that the parent is unfit. A court will decide that a parent is unfit if that parent:
- Abandoned the child;
- Failed to show a reasonable amount of interest, concern or responsibility for the child's welfare;
- Deserted or neglected the child; or
- Treated the child with extreme or repeated cruelty.
Giving a child up for adoption to a relative
It is usually easier to give your child up for adoption to a person who is related to the child. For example, a step-parent wants to become the legal parent of their spouse's child. The following people are considered relatives of the child:
- Brother or sister
- Stepbrother or stepsister
- Aunt or uncle
- Great-aunt or great-uncle
- First cousin
If you want to let a relative take care of your child temporarily without signing away your parental responsibilities, you may want to consider guardianship.