One of the chief conflicts in streaming-service Hulu’s new miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere (based on a novel of the same name by Celeste Ng) pits a wealthy Ohio family seeking to adopt an infant against the infant’s natural mother. As the conflict develops, viewers learn that the mother abandoned her infant in a moment of desperation, exhaustion, and financial difficulty. The mother comes to regret her decision, though, and seeks the return of her infant from the wealthy family seeking to adopt the infant as their own.
Separating Fact from Fiction
Ms. Ng’s work, as well as Hulu’s adaptation, is a work of fiction. However, even the greatest works of fiction can have elements that are true-to-life. The saga of the natural mother and the wealthy adoptive family recounted in Little Fires Everywhere has some aspects that are true. However, the manner in which it plays out on screen may leave viewers with misconceptions. This reinforces the need for individuals seeking to adopt a child, as well as the natural parents of the child to be adopted, to obtain experienced legal counsel as early in the process as possible.
So Can the Natural Parents Object to an Adoption?
In Ohio, the natural parents to a child may object to a proposed adoption of that child – so long as the natural parents’ rights are intact. However, there are various ways through which a mother or a father may lose their parental rights. For example, either a mother or father may have their parental rights terminated by a court if through a court proceeding the court determines that the parents’ child is abused or neglected, that the parent(s) is unable or unwilling to provide for the child adequately, and that termination of the parent(s) rights is in the child’s best interests.
Parents may also voluntarily give up their parental rights either by consenting to an adoption (other than an open adoption) or by relinquishing their parental rights and allowing the State of Ohio to assume custody of their child. To exercise either option, the parent(s) must appear before a judge who can ensure the parent(s) is not under the influence of any substance and is making a free and knowing decision.
Special Considerations for Fathers
Fathers may be at an increased risk in adoptions as they rights are more easily given up inadvertently. A father who is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or who is not listed on the birth certificate may need to take steps to establish their paternity – and, by extension – their rights – over the child. Even if paternity is established, a father may lose the ability to object to a proposed adoption if the father fails to respond timely and appropriately if he receives notification of a pending adoption.
Dawes Legal, LLC is Committed to Protecting Your Rights
Amicable or uncontested adoption proceedings can be fraught with legal obstacles. These are only compounded when one natural parent or the other objects to the adoption. Whether you are a natural parent uncertain of whether to contest a proposed adoption or you are adoptive parents, it is important to remember that you may have legal rights that can be lost if not exercised timely and properly. The knowledgeable family law attorneys of Dawes Legal, LLC are prepared to consult with you about your adoption goals and help you achieve them. Because family law proceedings often have short and strict deadlines, it is vital that you reach out to us today. Call our Columbus office at (614) 733-9999 today.