The Truth About Birth Parent Rights

Birth Parent Rights

The choice to place a child for adoption is one of the most difficult choices a parent can make. Birth parent rights mean they have the right to make a plan for their child, and they also have the right to choose parents. It is important to understand the difference between the relinquishment period and the revocation period in each state.

Relinquishment Periods

The relinquishment period in each state can differ. Most states require some period of time before birth parents can relinquish their rights. Even in states like Alabama where birth parents can terminate their rights anytime after birth, they may want to wait until they have had time to rest. States like Kentucky, which requires a period of 72 hours, allow birth parents to have some time before making the decision. This time can be full of anxiety and fears for prospective adoptive parents, but it is a crucial time for birth parents.

Between Birth and Relinquishment

Birth parents should control the adoption process, so prospective adoptive families need to respect that the child is not theirs until the parents terminate their rights. During this time, birth parents have the right to spend time alone with their child, have visitors, and take photos. Even in a positive relationship between birth families and prospective adoptive families, this time can cause anxiety. What if they change their mind? This is a risk prospective adoptive families must accept when they enter the adoption process and needs to be a risk they are willing to take. Adoption is not a guarantee. Some adoptive families have several adoption plans fall through. It is a heartbreaking, crushing experience, but it is the right of parents to parent their biological children.


Even after relinquishment, some states allow birth parents to change their minds. The first few days after a baby is born can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Not every birth family is ready to make a permanent, irrevocable decision. States like Arkansas (10 days), Maryland (30 days), and New York (30 days) give a period after relinquishment where birth parents can change their minds. After that period, the decision is irrevocable. Not all states require this time period. In these states, once birth parents relinquish their rights, the decision is final unless they can prove duress.

Birth Father Rights

Some states allow birth fathers to surrender their rights before birth or at any time after birth. Not all states require birth fathers to be named. It’s important to be familiar with the laws of the state the child will be born in. Read more about birth father rights here.

The Role of Prospective Adoptive Parents

Support, support, support! Be as supportive as you can. The birth parents may end up placing their child in your arms, and the grace and understanding you display during this time can be beneficial to the special relationship you will build. Keep in mind that the child belongs to the birth parents during this time, and they are the ones who should have all the rights.

The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.