What is a Contested Adoption? Can an Adoption Be Contested?

For those who are going through the adoption process, the following questions may arise: What is a contested adoption?

A contested adoption is a legal action to stop an adoption. Adoption can be contested if a biological father was uninformed of the pregnancy, the wrong man was labeled as the biological father and permitted the adoption, or the biological father was tricked into consenting to the adoption.

Other situations may apply that would cause adoption to be contested. We will focus on the most common reasons for an adoption to be contested.

It can be a devastating feeling to know you were so close to adopting a child to then find out that the adoption is being contested. Let’s go over the aspects of a contested adoption and find out what it all means.

As a side note, it is important to also keep in mind that the birth mother may change her mind at the very last minute or even just after the adoption and try to contest the adoption.

A contested adoption can happen to anyone, and many times when it is least expected.

Young family walking along the ocean getting their feet wet.

What is a Contested Adoption?

Let’s hope that if you are going through the adoption process, you never have to deal with the stress and potential heartache of a contested adoption. What is a contested adoption?

A contested adoption happens when one biological parent wishes to place their child up for adoption, but the other biological parent opposes the adoption and tries to stop it. A hearing will take place before a judge to hear both sides of the issue.

Sadly, many biological fathers do not find out about the adoption until the adoption is already in process. If the biological father was not informed that the mother was pregnant, then he has a legal right to contest the adoption.

The father may also change his mind about the adoption and therefore try to stop it.

If adoption is being contested, both parties will go before a judge in a courthouse to share their side of the issue to get to a resolution. The adoption cannot be finalized until the contested adoption is resolved.

The opposing party is saying they do not agree with the adoption and wish to stop it from happening.

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The Contested Adoption Hearing

As with any legal litigation, contested adoption proceedings require a judge, and more than likely, attorneys for both parties involved.

The contested adoption hearing takes place in a courtroom in front of a judge. Both parties, generally through their attorneys, will have an opportunity to make their case. It is up to the opposing party to demonstrate a good enough reason for the judge to prevent the adoption from moving forward.

What happens after the hearing depends on how the judge rules in the case.

If the judge sides with the biological father, the adoption is terminated, and the biological father is granted custody of the child. If, however, the judge does not grant the biological father’s petition, a couple of things can happen.

Either the judge will allow the adoptive parents to adopt the child, or there will be what is called the best interest hearing.

This hearing would allow the biological father to express further his concerns, as well as listen to the hopeful adoptive parents and what they have to offer the child.

In the end, the judge will determine what is in the best interest of the child first and foremost.

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Can a Biological Father Contest an Adoption?

Perhaps there is a concern that a biological father may step into the picture or change their mind about consenting to the adoption of their child. Can a biological father contest an adoption?

A biological father can contest the adoption of his child if he was not informed that the mother was pregnant. He may also contest the adoption if he was coerced into consenting to the adoption, or if the wrong man was told he was the father and that man gave consent to adoption.

If the biological father was not informed that the mother was pregnant, then he was not given a fair opportunity to step up and be a parent.

Therefore and providing he wishes to parent the child, he has a right to contest the adoption from being finalized.

The biological father has a right to request full custody of the child the mother wishes to put up for adoption.

There have been circumstances, too, where a man was mistakenly told he was the father.

If this same man permits the woman to put the baby up for adoption, and then later it is discovered that he is not the biological father, this presents a very large obstacle for the adoption proceedings.

A biological father who was in some way tricked or coerced into consenting to the adoption has a right to prove his case and contest the adoption.

Every biological father has a right to be a father to his child. A mother cannot take that right away from the biological father. If the birth mother wishes to adopt, and if the father can prove that he is fit to raise a child, then his right to do so is protected by law.

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Can a Finalized Adoption be Reversed?

As rare as it is, there are times when one asks themselves, can a finalized adoption be reversed?

A finalized adoption can be reversed, although this is not common. The birth parents may try to reverse the adoption, providing the adoptive parents agree, and the adoptive parents or even the child themselves may also try to reverse the adoption in the best interest of the child

A reversed adoption is not the norm, yet it can happen. If a birth parent wishes to regain their parental rights, and if the adoptive parents give their consent, the adoption may be reversed.

There are some states, however, that will not restore the biological parent’s rights, even if the adoptive parents give their consent.

There have been times when the adoptive parents wish to relinquish their rights, perhaps if they are finding that they are not having success in establishing a bond with the child.

A child may request the adoption process be reversed if the child feels that he or she is in danger, or that the situation they are in is not in their best interest.

Although reversing an adoption is not unheard of, it is rare and most certainly not the norm by any means.

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How to Prevent a Contested Adoption

With the stress and heartbreak that a contested adoption can have on all parties involved, one would naturally ask, how can a contested adoption be prevented?

The best way to prevent a contested adoption from happening is for all parties involved to be as upfront and honest about their circumstances as possible. As for the birth mother, the entire adoption process is jeopardized if she is not honest about who the biological father is.

The birth mother may fear that the biological father would not agree to the adoption and therefore she may hide the identity of the biological father.

What she fails to understand is that she does not have the right to take the given right away from the biological father should he be fit to raise a child.

Perhaps the birth mother is embarrassed about the number of men who could potentially be the biological father, so she is vague about providing that information. This is something she needs to get past so that it doesn’t come back around to haunt her later.

As for the prospective adoptive parents, they also have a responsibility, to be honest during their application process.

If something crawls out of the woodwork later, it could turn around and bite them, creating a mess and a possible termination of the adoption.

What matters the most, in the end, is what is best for the child.

Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.