Adoption laws vary by state. In Missouri, a birth mother can sign a document consenting to the termination her parental right no sooner than 48 hours after giving birth. This does not mean that adoptive parents cannot be present for the birth of the baby or be responsible for his or her care prior to the 48 hours. However, the birth mother’s decision is not final until the Court makes an order terminating her rights.
In most situations, the adoptive parents and the birth mother will agree to appoint the adoptive parents as Power of Attorney for the baby. This document is usually drafted by the adoptive parents’ attorney and brought to the hospital to have be signed, notarized, and witnessed.
After the Power of Attorney has been properly signed, the adoptive parents have the authority to make decisions for the baby.
When the baby is 48 hours old, the birth mother can sign the Consent to Termination of Parental Rights and to Adoption. Her consent is not final or irrevocable until the consent has been reviewed, accepted and approved by the Court. It is important to treat the birth mother with dignity and respect during this time, which is often very difficult.
In Missouri, if the birth father is known, he must receive notice of the adoption, but he does not need to consent in all circumstances. Your attorney can advise you further on the specifics in your case. It is important for the birth mother to identify all possible men who could be the biological father of the child. Missouri has a Putative Father Registry. A man must file his name with the Putative Father Registry if he believes he is or maybe the father of a child. The Putative Father Registry is checked prior to placing a child for adoption.
If the birth father is known, he can sign a Consent to the Termination of his Parental Rights and to the Adoption no sooner than 48 hours after the baby is born.
After this process is completed, the adoptive parents must go before a judge to have the court terminate the parental rights and order a transfer of custody. After the order is entered, the baby will remain with the adoptive parents under the supervision of the court, until the adoption can be finalized.
In general the entire process from the time a Transfer of Custody is entered until the adoption is final is about 6 months.
Often babies go home from the hospital with his or her adoptive family in cases when the birth mother has made a plan for adoption and selected the birth parents ahead of time. In other cases if the mother has not selected a family to adopt her baby until after her baby is born the circumstances of placement can be different.
Bringing home a baby is always a huge joy. However, surrendering a baby for adoption can be the hardest decision a mother faces. Be mindful of the important and difficult decision that the birth mother is making and provide her with the upmost respect.
Congratulations on your baby!