Reversing an Adoption in the UK vs US: Is it Possible?

Despite the often-tedious process, adoption doesn’t always work out. Ever wondered if It’s possible to reverse to decision?  In this article we’ll look at reversing process the UK and US…

Reversing an adoption isn't normally possible, but there's circumstances in which it occurs. Here's a brief explanation of adoption reversals in the US and UK

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Adoption is a permanent transferral of parental responsibility to a child’s adoptive family. Reversing adoption would involve severing a child’s legal ties to their adoptive family and returning them to their birth family, as you can imagine it’s an extremely emotional process.

It’s not normally possible to reverse an adoption, but there are some limited circumstances in which it can occur. For example one reason could be, if the welfare needs of the child are not being adequately met by the adoptive parents. 

The rules of reversing an adoption vary amongst countries so if you’re thinking of adopting it’s best you know the rules of where you’re adopting from before proceeding. Here is a brief explanation of adoption reversals in the UK and the US…

Reversing an Adoption in the UK

In the UK, there are a narrow set of circumstances in which it may be possible for an adoption to be reversed including: 

A Serious Error of Law

If the judge who originally heard the case made a serious error of law, this could be significant enough to later revoke an order for adoption. However, this error would need to be rather considerable and isn’t a common reason at all. 

Reversing an adoption isn't normally possible, but there's circumstances in which it occurs. Here's a brief explanation of adoption reversals in the US and UK.

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

Adoption Procedure Not Followed Correctly

If the set procedures used in care and adoption proceedings were not followed properly this may be used as a reason to reverse an order for adoption. 

However, again this would need to be a serious breach of procedure in order to be successful. 

Birth Parents Consent Not Given

If an aspect of the original proceedings was in some way unfair and both birth parents were not aware of the adoption, this could be significant enough to warrant the reversal of an order of adoption.

 In some cases, one birth parent (most likely the birth father) may not be notified of court proceedings concerning the adoption of their child. Such cases could result in an adoption reversal if the birth parent pursues regaining parental rights. 

Situations such as this can result from birth mothers denies knowing the identity of the biological father for example. 

Illegal or Unlawful Adoption

If a birth parent was pressured or forced into giving consent for an adoption against their wishes, it may be a reason to reverse an adoption if they are able to give evidence of this.

Adoptive Parents Failed to Meet the Child’s Welfare Needs

On rare occasions, if a child’s adoptive parents have failed to adequately provide for them, they may be returned to their biological parents. 

In extreme cases particularly where a child has suffered physical or emotional harm as a result of being under the adoptive parents’ care they will be removed from the adoptive home.

Reversing an Adoption In the US

In the US, the circumstances in which an adoption may be reversed are slightly different. Three parties can apply to reverse an adoption including:

  • Biological Parents – Will usually only be successful if the adoptive parents also agree that a return to the biological parents is in the child’s best interests. Even then, it’s not certain that they will be successful as having parental rights reinstated once they have been terminated is rare and very difficult to obtain. 
  • Adoptive Parents – Would have to demonstrate that it is in the child’s best interests to put them back up for adoption.
  • Adopted Child – Would usually attempt to reverse their adoption at an older age, once they are able to speak for themselves in court. This would again be in cases where they have failed to form a good relationship with the adoptive parents or wish to reconnect with birth parents. 

Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

The circumstances in which an adoption may be reversed are very rare, as in the UK. Here are some of these rare circumstances explained:  

Best Interest of Adoptee 

Once a child is adopted the parental rights are the same as if they were the child’s biological parents. If it can be proved that the child will benefit from the adoption being reversed, then the child may be put up for adoption and start the process again. 

Responsibility of the adoptee remains with the parents until they’re re-adopted. 

Fraudulent Adoption 

If the court sees that the original adoption was fraudulent, for example if the biological parents did not consent to the adoption or their consent was fraudulent, then a reversal may be granted. 

Withdrawal of Biological Parents Consent 

The biological parents get a short timeframe to change their decision in certain states, usually around 1 month of deciding to give up their child. 

These circumstances will vary state to state, so it’s important to look specifically at the relevant laws.

Reversing an adoption should be a last resort for anyone…

After going through the grueling emotional process of adoption the idea of reversing it can be too much to consider. However, if it is the best interest of the adoptee for adoption to be reconsidered then it’s a path you need to research and explore, and may wish to consult an adoption lawyer.

Before deciding to reverse an adoption make sure you have considered all other routes of support and resources available to adoptive parents. This is plenty of help online to look over for adoptive parents in the UK and US. 

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on the law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

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