The decision to adopt a child is one of the most important decisions a parent will make in their life. It’s just the first step in a lengthy legal process, with the ultimate aim of meeting the child’s best interests. In this week’s blog, we want to examine the topic of consent in adoption. Who has to give it? Who isn’t required to consent? Let’s clear up one of adoption’s least understood aspects.
Why is Consent Important in Adoption?
Adoption isn’t just about deciding where a child will live. It’s a solemn legal act in which an adult, or adults, legally become the parents of a child. It removes parental rights and obligations from the birth parents (except in joint custody adoptions), and transfers them to adoptive parents. All parties to the adoption must be aware of these responsibilities before proceeding. This is why the issue of consent is so important.
Who Must Consent to an Adoption in BC?
BC’s Adoption Act provides the legal framework for adoption to occur. Section 13 states the following people who must consent before an adoption can happen:
- The child (if 12 years of age or over)
- The child’s parents; or
- The child’s guardians
What Consent is Required for Adult Adoption?
A key difference in adult adoption in BC is that the biological parents of the adopted do not need to give their consent for an adult adoption to occur. The only person who must consent is the adult in question.
With few exceptions, the court will require that biological parents are served with notice of the adoption application, because their legal interests might be affected by the adoption process.
What if Consent Can’t be Obtained?
Sometimes, when all avenues to obtain it have been exhausted, BC courts are faced with a scenario where parental consent for adoption simply cannot be obtained. Fortunately, Section 17 of the BC Adoption Act allows the court to disregard the consent obligation – but only in certain circumstances. For example, a parent may not be able to give consent due to illness or incapacitation; a parent is unable to be located; or the parent has simply abandoned the child. The judge presiding over the adoption will make the judgement should any of these scenarios arise.
A Final Note on Revoking Consent
While it’s extremely rare for this to occur, consent can be revoked for adoption in certain circumstances. Sections 18-22 of the Adoption Act cover revocation. It states the following scenarios that allow for consent to be revoked:
- The child can revoke their consent at any point before the adoption order occurs
- A birth mother may revoke consent to the adoption within 30 days of the child’s birth
- Any individual who provided consent to an adoption can revoke the consent before the child is placed for adoption.
Get in Touch
If you have questions about the Adoption process, contact us today to speak with a family lawyer. We are hard at work to ensure your legal interests are secured during this stressful time.