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What happens when a birth mom revokes her consent?

Oh man, this is such a hard question. There is a movement in the ethical adoption arena allowing women to revoke their consent after a week. This movement is based on the fact that many women are in crisis during the time leading up to delivering their baby. They may have kept the pregnancy a secret, they are ashamed by the act of having sex or having sex with the wrong man. They feel they have zero support to bring another baby into the home.


These adoption professionals feel like the first week from birth these women deserve to let the idea of what they did settle in and ruminate. They feel giving this birth mom a week to breath, to say “I did what I believe was best and I feel good about it still”. Or the alternative,” WHAT DID I DO? HOW CAN I GO BACK”?  


During these first 7 days, postpartum women are still physically recuperating from not sleeping for weeks and raising other children, working, studying and other daily stressors like feeding their family. Once they sleep, share what happened with a trusted loved one, they could begin to regret their decision. Some may push back on this thought and say they had 9 months to figure this out. Some women though have no idea of what it will feel like leaving the hospital and going home with empty arms. Their breasts don’t understand as they continue to lactate, their heart is broken and they wake up holding their baby-less tummy and remember the nightmare was true. They signed an irrevocable adoption consent during their most vulnerable time as a woman! 


So, the question is, what do we do as the new adoptive parents?

In the state of Indiana, the law is that a birth mom needs to prove that she was bribed, coerced, or signed not knowing what the document was. The easiest thing to do is to track down the biological father and ask him to register with the Indiana Adoption Registry. If this is not possible, and the birth mom finds it within her means to retain an attorney, she can file a motion to revoke her consent. So now what? In many cases, sometimes she just needs to have another conversation in person with the prospective adoptive family and hold her baby and see that all is okay. That they can be trusted to keep their word and their promise to stay connected. Once that is done and if the birth mom still cannot wrap her head around what she did and wants her baby back, the child centered adoption agency would suggest that the prospective adoptive family return the baby to his/her biological mom.


The reason is simple; when this little boy or girl becomes old enough, he/she may want to know their story, their family or origin? Asking questions like, “Why is there no contact with my biological siblings and mom?”


You, as adoptive parents, may explain that the truth is: Your birth mom signed her name on a document after she gave birth to you and then she changed her mind and wanted you back. But we as your parents thought WE would be better parents because we had a home and jobs. The child responds; but what about my brothers and sisters she had. They were with my mom, right? Yes, but we are better people. We are stable, we are better parents. You may even say; how could we give you back? WE loved you already. The child may reply “But I wasn’t yours to give back” and then he/she will look for their biological family and when they find them, they will know the whole truth.


So you have what we should do, what do we do, what feels right and how do we give him/her back?

In a child centered adoption, listen to this…..he/she was not YOURS to give back. A family was broken when you walked out of the hospital with her baby. The adoptive family that fights back this soon after a placement just continues the break instead of healing. If a family really feels led to adopt, they will also feel led to adopt the entire family of origin. Heal the wound and look for another expectant mom to love on and walk with her through her journey to adoption.  


For the push back that says what about the costs this family incurred? A child centered, ethical adoption agency would not charge fees for a placement that did not happen. What if the family has existing children? How do we explain we are giving him/her back? You would let your existing child(ren) know that you are adopting to help a family that needs your help and support. This little baby’s family figured out how to take care of him/her and doesn’t need us. Isn’t it wonderful that he/she gets to go back to HER MOMMY!  

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