Can You Reverse an Adoption?
If someone else has adopted your biological child, you may wonder: How do I overturn an adoption? Can birth parents get their child back after adoption?
In some cases, you can reverse an adoption, but there’s a time limit to when you can do this. In this post, I’ll explain how.
Appealing an adoption
Because an adoption is a final judgment of a trial court, and you can appeal any final judgment, you may appeal an adoption to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. However, you have to do this quickly. You must file the designation of record in the trial court within ten days after the trial court’s order. Then, you must file your petition in the state supreme court within thirty days after the trial court’s order.
Adoption cases are placed on a “fast track” in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Any adoption appeal in the state supreme court has priority over all other pending cases on the supreme court’s docket. Also, your deadlines for filing briefs in an adoption case are much shorter than your deadlines for filing briefs in a typical case. To read the rules of procedure for an adoption appeal, click here.
Except for the quicker time schedule, the rules for appealing an adoption case are the same as the rules for appealing any other Oklahoma civil court case. Elsewhere on this site, I’ve published a page on the appeals process in Oklahoma; you may read it here.
If you are successful in appellate court, the appellate court may overturn the adoption.
Vacating an adoption at the trial level
If you have the proper grounds, you may be able to ask the trial court, that entered the adoption decree, to vacate its own decision. You can do this without going to appeals court. Your time limit here is slightly longer, but it’s still short. You can’t challenge an adoption decree, or a decree terminating parental rights, on any ground, more than three months after the court entered the decree. You can’t challenge an adoption decree after three months even if the decree is void or voidable. You can’t challenge an adoption decree after three months even if the natural parent was a minor, or mentally incompetent, at the time of the adoption.
There’s only one exception to the rule that you can’t challenge an adoption decree more than three months after the court entered the decree: if you consented to the adoption, and your consent was obtained by fraud or duress, then you may ask the court to set aside your consent within three months after the discovery of the fraud.
Is there no other hope?
The adoption laws contain these strict time limits because the government doesn’t want to disrupt families. If your time limit has run, there’s probably not much you can do.
If the adoptive family is willing to agree to set aside the adoption, you might be able to readopt your child back. Other than that, the laws are strict. Your only way around the laws is if the state legislature or U. S. Congress were to change the laws (which the state legislature recently did in a related situation) or if you appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court declared the state law unconstitutional (which the Supreme Court did many years ago in a case involving a much stricter adoption law).
Reversing an adult adoption
In Oklahoma, it is legal, though somewhat rare, to adopt an adult. Reversing the adoption of an adult is easier. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held that if an adopted adult, and the adoptive parents, agree to vacate an adult adoption, the court may vacate the adult adoption and terminate parental rights.
Do you have questions about reversing an adoption?
The Persaud Law Office has handled many adoption and family law cases. If you have questions about reversing an adoption, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.