It takes a special individual or pair of individuals to want to raise a child that is not theirs biologically. To invest time and love in a child, and then have it taken away, is devastating. That is why many parents pursuing adoption choose to seek termination of the birth parents' parental rights.
Terminating those rights removes any legal tie to the child and allows the adoptive parents to provide a permanent, stable and loving home. In such instances, there are a few important things to understand about the termination process.
Legal grounds for termination
Tennessee code 36-1-113, termination of parental rights, fully details the legal grounds for which it is possible to seek parental rights termination. Being that parents’ rights to their children are a constitutional right, a party must show that it is in the best interest of the child to revoke those rights. There are several reasons that the courts commonly accept, including:
- Sentencing or incarceration for criminal acts
- Failure to maintain contact
- Abuse or neglect
- Lack of support of the child
- Long-term alcohol or drug abuse by the parent
If any of these factors exist, an adoptive parent has an opportunity to prove it and possibly gain custody of the child.
In some cases, the birth parents may voluntarily relinquish their rights to the child. For instance, a birth mother who gives her child up for adoption after birth may release her rights at the hospital immediately. In the case where it is involuntary, the adoptive parent can file a petition with the court. This petition must include the child’s information, the adoptive parent’s information, and the basis for the parental rights termination. The court will summon all parties and hold an adjudicatory hearing.
As you can see, the rights termination process is quite in depth. It is critical that you understand its full scope so that you may present your best case.