Can You Undo (Reverse) An Adoption in Louisiana?
Your biological child was adopted, and you want to know if the adoption can be reversed. Or maybe you were adopted and are curious if the adoption can be undone. Questions like this are common, so can you undo an adoption in Louisiana?
Yes, in limited situations, adoptions can be reversed in Louisiana. The laws regarding the nullification of adoptions are stringent and are rarely granted.
There are various reasons a person may want to undo an adoption, but once a final order approving the adoption has been entered, it isn’t very easy to reverse. If you formally consented to the adoption, it is almost impossible.
Filing a Petition to Undo an Adoption
In Louisiana, the preferred nomenclature to reverse an adoption is a Motion to Annul Adoption. Courts typically don’t undo an adoption.
Who can petition the Courts to Annul an adoption?
- The Child’s Birth Parents – In Louisiana, a child’s biological parents can file a petition to annul an adoption in certain situations. In some states, the adoptive parents can consent to the reversal of adoption and agree to relinquish parental rights back to the birth parents.
- The Child’s Adoptive Parents – The child’s adoptive parents may petition the court to undo an adoption in very limited circumstances.
- The Child – There may be reasons a child wants to cut bonds with their adopted family. These usually occur later in life due to failed relations.
Grounds for an annulment of an adoption
A procedural process must be adhered to in the adoption process. If the process was tainted either by fraud or duress, the adoption could be reversed. The most common attack on approval is that the consent of the biological parent was obtained through fraud.
The Louisiana Constitution guarantees that a birth father has the right to develop a relationship with his child; this is established in the following language: “no person may be deprived without due process of law under our state constitution.” The Lousiana Supreme Court established the following rights of unwed fathers in reference to adoptions:
- An unmarried father’s right to veto the adoption of his child cannot be terminated or forfeited without notice and a hearing on this issue. If no response to a proper notice is received from the father, or he can’t be found in a reasonable time, the court may terminate his parental rights.
- When a birthmother executes an act of surrender of an illegitimate child and identifies the father, he must receive notice of the adoption. He has the right to file an opposition to the adoption.
- When the mother names the alleged father, but his whereabouts are unknown, a curator will be appointed and make a diligent effort to locate the father. If the father can’t be found, his parental rights are terminated.
- If the mother claims that the birth father is unknown, his rights are terminated after a diligent effort has been made to identify the father.
It’s not too difficult to imagine how fraud could find its way into the process to deprive a father of proper notice of the adoption of his child. For example, a mother could list a fake name as the father of her child on the birth certificate, and the biological father never receives notice of the adoption.
Note: The Louisiana Children’s Code presides over the adoption laws in Louisiana and provides a legal framework for adoption in the state. Notably, Louisiana’s legal system distinguishes itself from other states by following the civil law system.