LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney John W Redmann | Jan 12, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption in Louisiana, Biological Parent-Related

MOTHER OF THE BABY: Birth Mother-Related Questions

  1. When can the mother of the baby start the adoption process?

The mother may start planning for the adoption process at any time. The legal consent is not signed until at least five days (not including the date of birth) after the birth of the baby. LA CC Art 1130.

  1. Can the birth mother choose the adoptive parents?

Yes. Louisiana Law is technically silent on this issue; however, it is addressed in the 2001 Authors' Notes at the beginning of Chapter 12 of the Louisiana Children's Code (LCC). It states, "Nothing in this Title or Title XII controls the process of selecting adopting parents."

  1. Can the birth mother see and hold the baby after the birth?

Yes she can, as the surrender (voluntary relinquishment) cannot be accepted from a birth mother until five days after the birth of the child.

  1. What expenses can the adoptive parents pay to or on behalf of the birth mother and child?

LA CC Article 1200 and 1233.1 2001 [Author's note: There are three categories of allowable costs: The necessary, actual prenatal care and living expenses of the mother, the actual living and medical expenses of both the mother and child for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 30 days, after the child is born, and the legal fees of the surrendering parent or parent in connection with a voluntary surrender. Details regarding fees allowed are listed in Art. 1233.

  1. Can a minor mother independently sign legal documents placing the child for adoption (consent to the adoption)?

No, if it is a private adoption. LA CC Art 1113: Except as otherwise provided herein, if a parent executing surrender in a private adoption is a minor, the parents or tutor of the minor must join in the surrender unless the minor parent has been judicially emancipated or emancipated by marriage.

When the minor's parents or tutor refuse to join in the act or cannot be located, the court may authorize the minor to surrender.

In an interfamily adoption the parents or tutor of the minor parent must join in the consent to his child's adoption, unlesss the court finds the minor is sufficiently mature and well informed to surrender.

Yes - in an agency adoption, a minor may surrender without the consent of the parents or tutor of the minor. However, this is not customary practice.

  1. When does the birth mother actually sign the legal documents required for the adoption?

Article 1130: No act of surrender by mother shall be executed earlier than five days following the birth of the child. The date of birth shall not be included, and the days shall be consecutive calendar days, including weekends and holidays.

  1. Can the birth mother change her mind before signing the legal consents to the adoption?

Yes. Nothing is legal until the voluntary surrender is signed.

  1. Can the birth mother change her mind after signing the legal consents to the adoption?

No. It is irrevocable at time of signature. It can only be overturned if proven to have been taken due to fraud or duress. She may only sign if the child is five days old, not counting the day of birth. Article 1123.

  1. Can the birth mother communicate with the adoptive parents and child after the adoption?

Chapter 14-A, Articles 1269.1-7... Yes, through formal agreements. The statute does not provide a mechanism for Court oversight of the agreement.

  1. Can a birth mother anonymously surrender a newborn child?

Yes, under Louisiana Safe Haven Act. Articles 1149, 1151-1159.

Also, under 1119 "for the purposes of insuring anonymity in private adoption, an attorney at law licensed to practice in this state may be named in the surrender as representative of the accepting person. The prospective adoptive parent need not be informed of the identity of the surrendering parent nor be shown the petition or other documents connected with the adoption proceeding, including any certification for adoption or court order approving the adoptive placement.

  1. What happens if the birth parents do not agree that adoption should be the plan?

The legal rights of the birth mother as well as the birth and legal father(s) have to be addressed either through voluntary Act of Surrender or court Termination of Parental Rights before a child is legally available for adoption. Article 1123 and 1193. To successfully oppose an adoption, the father would have to do other things such as acknowledge his status, indicate a willingness to accept custody/responsibility of the child, and prove his fitness to the court.

FATHER OF THE BABY: Birth Father-Related Questions

1. Does the father of the baby have to be notified of the birth and the mother's adoption plan?

Yes. Notice of the filing of a petition for adoption shall be served on any parent whose parental rights have not been terminated. Art 1202. See question 2.

  1. How is the father of the baby notified of the mother's adoption plan?

Additionally, in Art 1132 and 1133, if an unmarried mother of a child has executed a surrender and identifies the child's alleged father, the agency shall exercise due diligence in locating him. Upon approval of the mother's surrender by the court, notice of the filing of the mother's surrender shall be served upon the alleged father unless his parental rights have already been terminated, voluntarily or involuntarily.

  1. Can the father of the baby choose the adoptive parents?

Louisiana Law is silent on this issue; however, it is addressed in the 2001 Authors' Notes at the beginning of Chapter 12 of the Louisiana Children's Code (LCC). It states "Nothing in this Title or Title XII controls the process of selecting adopting parents."

  1. What happens if the biological father of the baby is not the baby's legal father?

The fathers' potential parental rights need to be addressed legally before the child can be considered available for adoption. He must register with the Louisiana Putative Father Registry. Chapter I, Title VII of the Louisiana Revised Statutes (LRS). This is one means of establishing parental rights.

  1. What happens if the husband (legal father) is not the biological father?

The legal father must sign surrender consenting to the adoption or have his parental rights terminated by the court. See Article 1193. Fathers who must surrender or have their rights terminated include: the father regardless of paternity if the child is legitimate, the father who has executed an act of legitimation by authentic act, the father wh ois presumed to be the father, the alleged father who has established his parental rights, and the biological father who has had a judgment of filiation.

  1. What happens if the mother does not know who the biological father is?

See article 1135. The mother must declare in the surrender that the father is unknown, a certified copy of the birth certificate shows that no one is indicated thereon as the father of the child, a certificate from the putative father registry indicates that no person is listed or registered as the child's father, and a certificate from the clerk of court in the parish in which the child was born indicates that no acknowledgement of paternity in respect to this child has been filed. The Court would then need to terminate the parental rights of the unknown father(s).

  1. What happens if the mother refuses to give the name of the biological father?

THere are legal ramifications of providing false information. This would be a highly risky adoption plan and reputable agencies would be hesitant to assist in an adoption plan under these circumstances.

  1. Can the biological father of the baby give notice that he intends to plan for the baby before the baby is born?

Yes, but it is not legally binding. He may wish to give legal notice, which may give him standing. It would also be in his best interest to file with the Putative Father Registry maintained by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

  1. Can the birth father change his mind before signing the legal consents to the adoption?

Yes. Nothing is legal until the voluntary surrender is signed.

  1. Can a minor father independently sign legal documents placing the child for adoption (consent to the adoption)?

No, if it is a private adoption. LA CC Art 1113: Except as otherwise provided herein, if a parent executing a surrender in a private adoption is a minor, the parents or tutor of the minor must join in the surrender unless the minor parent has been judicially emancipated or emancipated by marriage.

When the minor's parents or tutor refuse to join in the act or cannot be located, the court may authorize the minor to surrender.

In an interfamily adoption the parents or tutor of the minor parent must join in the consent to his child's adoption, unless the court finds the minor is sufficiently mature and well informed to surrender.

Yes - in an agency adoption, a minor may surrender without the consent of the parents or tutor of the minor. However, this is not common practice.

  1. Can the birth father change his mind after signing the legal consents to the adoption?

If the birth father is an alleged or adjudicated father his surrender is irrevocable upon execution, even if before the birth of the child. If the birth father is the legal father, he may execute surrender earlier than the fifth day after the child's birth, but it will not be irrevocable until the fifth day following the birth of the child. Art 1130.

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