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Teen adoption question

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I'm hoping one of you might know the answer to this question (okay, questions):

What would happen if a teen mother, who had originally decided to place the baby for adoption, died in childbirth?  Would the adoption still go through?  Would the teen's parents/guardians be the ones to sign the adoption paperwork?  Could the parents/guardians decide to hold off on the adoption until after the funeral, or would the adoption still take place in that 12-24hr window after the birth?

Anyone know?
#1 - September 01, 2011, 07:27 AM

A lot of times the adoption doesn't take place in the first 24 hours anyway. Often the baby is placed in foster care for about a month to make sure the mother really wants to go through with it. It's so painful for adoptive parents to get the baby only to have the birth mother change her mind. It happens all the time. Most agencies give the birth families whatever space they need to figure it out, so nobody can come back later and say they were strongarmed into giving away their babies.
#2 - September 01, 2011, 07:43 AM
Viking, 2013

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Kabarson is right. And it varies by state, but some states take a lot longer than a month to finalize things. I know one family in SC who received a foster child at just a couple days old, and were told that the birth mother had give up rights and so had the birth father, and that the baby was free and open for adoption. So they went into it assuming that it was all a matter of paperwork. Well, I think it was a YEAR later that they were going through the paperwork to finalize things, and the birth father said you know, that's not actually my kid. So they did some blood testing, and he was right. He wasn't. They discovered the actual father, who had no idea he had a child, and at the final moment, he decided he wanted to keep his hithertofore-unknown daughter. Also: the child had been raised English-speaking. The father spoke only Spanish. He was single, worked something like 12 hours a day in construction, and didn't have anyone else to watch his infant daughter; possibly no other relatives in the US. I'm not sure what happened in the end because we moved about that time, but I know he did have some concerns about the girl's transition, and wanted her to have a lot of contact with her almost-adopted family. So...yes, things can get rather complicated. Best check on the adoption laws in the state you want to set your story.
#3 - September 01, 2011, 07:52 AM

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This is a really interesting question that I'm sorry I don't have the answer to, but I do have another thought to add to your list of possible outcomes. My guess would be that rights would first go to the baby's father. If the father was unknown, I think it's still possible they might try to determine who he is, and likewise for the adoption itself. They would want both parents to agree to give up parental rights if possible. Then I'm wondering if the baby might go to the state first. As a ward of the court where they would determine who is in the best interest of the child. (grandparents, adoptive parents, etc.) although if the father is involved and on board with the adoption, I think it could go forward as planned.

Also meant to add I don't think the teen's parents could sign the papers for her since they would have to adopt the baby/become legal guardians themselves in order to have those kind of rights. Children aren't inherited in death, although a will can start the formal guardian process you still have to go through the system to become one.
#4 - September 01, 2011, 08:00 AM
« Last Edit: September 01, 2011, 08:04 AM by valeriek »
DEFY THE DARK - HarperTeen June 2013


This is definitely complicated. If it is an open adoption (like we did for our twin sons) the teen mother has met the adoptive family and already signed all of the paperwork before she gives birth (and so has the father, if they know who that is).  It varies from state to state, but in many states the birth mother has 30 days to change her mind. After 30 days the paperwork is processed and her rights are terminated (and the birth father's). So let's say she dies in child birth. If she has already signed all of the paperwork and so has the birth father her death doesn't change the fact the adoptive parents get custody at birth. The adoptive parents would take the baby home when the hospital released it. If the birth father is unknown or unavailable (in our case it was the latter) the adoptive parents have to make a good faith effort to find him and inform him he has a child. For us this entailed publishing ads in the local newspapers where the birth father was from, and sending Fed Ex packages with this info to all his previously known addresses. We even contacted members of his family who said he was dead. As it turns out (we just found this out - two years later!) his family lied. He is alive and well, but wanted nothing to do with the twins, and therefore didn't respond to all of our efforts. But if the teen mother has chosen adoption and but has not picked out adoptive parents and no paperwork has been signed then the child would be either released to next of kin or taken by social services and placed with a foster family (in our state).
#5 - September 01, 2011, 08:15 AM

Jenn Bertman
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I think it can vary depending on the situation, and also perhaps if the teen was working with social services adoption or a private adoption service. With social services adoption, I have the sense that adoptions don't typically go through right at birth. (Private adoption might be different--I'm not very familiar with it.) I think the baby is usually considered in foster care with the prospective adoptive parents for a certain amount of time until they can officially adopt the child. (I have a friend who foster adopted and it was a year before it was official. At any point before then, I believe there was a chance the birth family could have had a change of heart. The time/process probably varies case by case and state by state.) It's also dependent on a judge to make the final decision. Also, at least in California and Colorado with social services adoption, reunification with the birth family is goal #1. That's considered the best outcome for the child, if the birth family is deemed capable, safe, and willing. So if the birth mother died and the birth father had a change of heart, or the birth mother's parents were estranged and hadn't been aware their daughter was pregnant until her death and now wanted custody of their grandbaby, or some other scenario, that would definitely complicate things for prospective adoptive parents.

My best friend is an adoptions social service worker in California--if you'd like a contact to run questions by, I could see if she'd be willing.   
#6 - September 01, 2011, 08:27 AM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 

Thanks, everyone.  That helped clear up a few questions I had.  It also brought up new possibilities, so I do appreciate your answers! 
#7 - September 01, 2011, 11:00 AM


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