Surrender of Parental Rights
Although family reunification is the primary goal for children in the child welfare system, sometimes parents realize that their children would best be served by being adopted by another family. They may be worried that they will not be able to maintain sobriety if they resume full-time parenting, or they may be concerned about the long-time bonds established between the caregiver and child. Surrendering parental rights can be a brave and loving act by a parent.
The surrender of parental rights is when a parent voluntarily agrees to give up his or her parental rights. Unlike a TPR order, the parent voluntarily signs an agreement that can be either:
- unconditional – birth parent has no rights
- conditional – the birth parent can identify the adoptive parent and establish visiting rights
The surrender of parental rights is irrevocable. This means it is not possible to cancel or change the surrender, or regain custody of the child. It is a permanent decision.
Whether the surrender is conditional or unconditional, parents may still register with the Adoption Information Register so that the child can contact the birth parent after he or she turns 18 years of age.
In order to free a child for adoption, the parental rights of both the mother and father must be ended. This can be done by either surrendering rights, or through a termination of parental rights.
How does a surrender differ from termination?
A Termination of Parental Rights is an involuntary decision. The Court decides to sever the rights, often against the wishes of the parent. A parent whose rights have been terminated has no rights.
A Surrender is a voluntary decision. This means the parent agrees to have his or her rights ended. As explained above, some people opt for a “Conditional Surrender” which allows them to identify an adoptive parent, and/or establish visiting rights.
Although the word “surrender” sounds like giving up, a conditional surrender is a great way for parents to fight to maintain a connection to their child.