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Girl Returns to Mother Following Abuse by Adoptive Father

When do adoptive parents lose the right to continue to raise the children they adopt?

The answer is simple: when they abuse the privilege of raising children. Or in the case of the adoptive parents of a child identified simply as T.H., once the authorities discover that the adopted father was sexually abusing the girl.

It's a horribly sad case.

When T.H. was just three years of age, the courts terminated the parental rights of the girl's mother. It took just one year for another couple to come forward to adopt the girl.

15-Year-Old Girl Reveals History of Sexual Abuse

By the time T.H. was 15, she bravely stepped forward and disclosed that the father had been sexually abusing her since she was five or six years of age.

When the court set its process in motion, the adoptive parents backed down and agreed to the termination of parental rights. T.H. filed a petition to reinstate the parental rights of her biological mother.

At first, the state objected to the grill's petition arguing that there was one element of the statute that had not yet been met. The trial court agreed, and the state entered an order denying the application.

There was an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which reversed the decision.

T.H. was able to proceed thanks to a fairly new law passed in 2009 by the Oklahoma legislature.

Reinstatement of Parental Rights Is Inconsistent Across U.S

How the courts deal with reinstatement of parental rights varies from state to state. Although all states have provisions for terminating parental rights, most states still do not allow for the reinstatement of previous parental rights.

In those states where this is possible, parents still need to show improvement in their ability to properly care for a child before a court will agree to the reinstatement. It's not automatic, despite how poorly an adoptive parent treated a child.

Because these cases are always handled in state court, the laws and procedures vary from one state to the next.

Presently, nine states allow for reinstatement of parental rights including California, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, Arkansas, Hawaii and New York.

California's Requirements for Reinstating Parental Rights

In California, these requirements exist:

  • Three years must pass from the date of termination.
  • There must be clear and convincing evidence.
  • It's unlikely the child would be adopted otherwise.
  • Reinstatement is in the best interest of the child

For detailed information on the requirements of each of the nine states that allow parental reinstatement, be sure to check this website by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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