A recent change in the Keystone State illustrates the complexity of adoption law and how it varies dramatically from state to state.
The number of federal laws that govern domestic infant adoption in the United States are miniscule when compared and contrasted to the thousands of state-specific adoption laws, rules and regulations that are on the books. When it comes to our country, Adoption is very much a state-specific process…and the laws themselves are substantially different when comparing and contrasting how any two states handle adoptions.
One key example of this is what legal mechanisms are in place (if any) for a birth mother to change her mind after signing the legal documents for the adoption. In New York, an extra judicial surrender or consent (surrender or consent take outside of court) may be revoked. The revocation period is 30 days in agency adoption scenarios and 45 days in private adoption scenarios. However, other states have deemed that a surrender or consent is deemed irrevocable after surrender is taken (or in other words, it is immediately irrevocable upon signing the legal document indicating the voluntary termination of parental rights).
A real life example of a state recently changing adoption law specific to the process of a birth mother “changing her mind” is Pennsylvania. You can read an article about the changes here:
As it says in the article, Representative Greg Vitali nicely summarized the complexity that is often an inherent part of adoption law:
“’This is a difficult issue we are dealing with and it just should give some thought to where we fall as far as the considerations of the biological mother giving her child up and how much time she has to change her mind versus the expectations of the adoptive parents receiving it. It’s a difficult question,’ Vitali said.”