Written by Sara Nolette, CHOICES Coordinator
At Carolina Adoption Services, we have great respect for our expectant mothers and birth mothers. We know from working closely with these women how much they love their babies, and that they are making an adoption plan because they feel it will provide the best future for their babies and for themselves. Making an adoption plan is a huge decision, and it takes great bravery, courage, and love.
This is a very brief and simplified explanation of some of the rights of birthmothers. This is not intended to be a legal explanation. At Carolina Adoption Services, we believe that Birth Mothers have the right to:
- Be informed of all of their options for their baby (that is one reason our domestic program is called the CHOICES program).
- Meet and interview the family/families they are considering to adopt their baby.
- Choose the family they want to adopt their baby.
- Choose the level of openness they would like for their adoption.
- Receive counseling at no cost to them, if they so choose.
- Receive legal counsel and representation at no cost to them, if they so choose.
- Receive financial support that is reasonable and necessary and in accordance with North Carolina law.
- Create a hospital plan/birthing plan that honors and respects their wishes for contact with the baby and interaction with the adoptive family.
- Create a post-adoption contact agreement with the adoptive family outlining plans for the level and frequency of contacts, pictures, and/or other communication.
- Be treated with the greatest respect, honor, and care.
- Change their mind about their adoption plan (in accordance with North Carolina law).
The right to change her mind is a hard one for many adoptive families. Intellectually it is easy to understand; but in our hearts, it can be burdensome. Our CHOICES program has been built on honesty, transparency, and relationship, so we believe strongly in sharing any and all levels of risk we assess, including the expectant mother’s commitment to the adoption plan. We believe in providing all of the information to our CHOICES families and allowing you to decide the level of risk with which you are comfortable.
Once the baby is born, and the birth mother and/or putative father(s) have signed the adoption documents, under North Carolina law, there is still an opportunity for the birth parents to change their minds. Here is an explanation of the rules regarding the Revocation of a Relinquishment of a Minor for Adoption under North Carolina Law (copied from our Agency and Placement Agreement):
A North Carolina Relinquishment of Minor for Adoption may be revoked within 7 days following the day on which it is executed, inclusive of weekends and holidays. If the final day of the period falls on a weekend or a North Carolina federal holiday, then the revocation period extends to the next business day.
As provided in North Carolina General Statutes § 48-3-608, a revocation of a Relinquishment of Minor for Adoption must be made by giving written notice to the agency specified in the Relinquishment. Notice may be given by personal delivery, overnight delivery service, or registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. If notice is given by mail, notice is deemed complete when it is deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the person specified in the Relinquishment at the address specified in the Relinquishment. If notice is given by overnight delivery service, notice is deemed complete on the date it is deposited with the service as shown by the receipt from the service, with delivery charges paid by the sender, addressed to the agency specified in the Relinquishment at the address also specified.
Unless revoked in accordance with G.S. §48-3-608 as described above, a Relinquishment of Minor for Adoption by Parent or Guardian becomes final and irrevocable and may not be withdrawn or set aside except under a circumstance set forth in North Carolina General Statutes § 48-3-609 (for example, if the person who gave the Consent establishes by clear and convincing evidence in a timely manner that the Relinquishment of Minor for Adoption was obtained by fraud or duress) or § 48-3-704 (which provides that a person who signs a Relinquishment that identifies specific adopting parents may reserve the right to revoke the Relinquishment within 10 days after the date the relinquishing parent is notified that the adoption by the identified adopting parents will not be completed).