Birth Mother and Father Representation in Uncontested Adoption Proceedings

In Illinois, a child’s legal parents, who are typically the biological parents, must consent, waive or surrender their parental rights for an adoption to proceed. While this process seems straightforward, it is important for birth parents to have legal representation, even if they are in agreement with the adoption, as the judicial processes regarding parental rights can be a complex subject to navigate alone.

Understanding a Birth Mother’s Rights

A woman who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the child’s biological and legal mother, and she can surrender her parental rights or consent to an adoption 72 hours or later after giving birth. A consent or surrender cannot be revoked unless a court finds that it was achieved through fraud or duress, and this action must be brought within 12 months of giving consent.

Other than giving birth to a child, other ways to establish maternity include:

1. A court order establishing parentage or

2. A valid gestational surrogacy contract.

Understanding a Birth Father’s Rights

A legal father is a man that is presumed to be the child’s biological father. Similar to establishing maternity, other ways to establish paternity include:

1. Being married to the legal mother at the time of the child’s birth or within 300 days prior to the birth,

2. Being listed on the birth certificate or

3. Through a court order establishing parentage.

A legal father can surrender, waiver or consent to the termination of his parental rights prior to the birth of the child, however, he may revoke his surrender, waiver or consent within 72 hours after the child is born. A surrender, waiver or consent may only be revoked through a claim of fraud or duress. A surrender or consent must be given to an agency or court, while a waiver only requires notarization.

Understanding a Putative Father’s Rights

A putative father is someone who is not the legal father, however, has taken certain steps to notify the court that he is a potential biological father. These steps include both timely registering with the Putative Father Registry and beginning a proper parentage action to establish parentage within the designated timeframe. Putative fathers are not required to complete the same requirements to terminate their parental rights as legal fathers.

Completing Termination of Parental Rights

Depending on the type of document executed by a biological mother, biological father or putative father, a party may be required to appear in court to finalize their documentation.  After a court enters a termination of parental rights, the biological parents will not generally receive any further notice or updates regarding the adoption. Other issues, such as termination of child support, must be addressed in the proper forum.

Birth parents’ parental rights and procedures during the adoption process can be very complicated. The attorneys at Kogut & Wilson recognize that every case has a unique set of facts and needs, and we are prepared to guide biological and adoptive parents through this process.


Need Help Through This Tough Time?