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Can an adopted child's biological parents take the child back?

Many Salt Lake City residents have a general familiarity of the legal system, often based on what they see and hear from others and on television. When individuals become personally involved in the legal system, however, they may come to find that their previously held beliefs consisted of many myths and misconceptions.

For example, there are many misconceptions about the process of adopting from foster care. Last week, this blog discussed a bill that could impose a preference under state law for a child to have a married mother and father. While it remains to be seen whether this bill will become law, the bill itself generated a lot of confusion and myths about certain adoption issues.

One common myth is that adoptions cost a lot of money. There are different kinds of adoptions, and the costs vary depending on the adoption involved in each particular case. However, adopting from foster care is nearly free in many instances, as the home study and training are paid for by the Division of Child and Family Services. Many individuals are also unaware that the child will have a Medicaid card until he or she is 18 years old.

Another common misconception is that individuals who are older, or single individuals, cannot adopt. In reality, Utah law requires a person to be 10 years older than the adopted child. Accordingly, even older couples may be suitable for school age children. Likewise, a single person can adopt a child. In fact, certain children may do better in a single parent home, as each child has different needs.

Finally, one of the biggest fears individuals have when adopting from foster care is that the biological parent will come and take the child back. In truth, the biological parents typically have had their parental rights terminated when the child is being adopted from the foster care system. Accordingly, the finalized adoption means the biological parent cannot take the child back from the adoptive family.

The bottom line is that individuals should understand the truth if they are interested in adopting a child. By sorting out fact from fiction, individuals can realize their goal of adopting a child into their home.

Source: Utah's Adoption Connection, "Myths and facts about foster care adoption," Kathy Searle, accessed on Feb. 13, 2016

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Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law
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