sjd0103
 
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 06:17 pm
A girl got pregnant the summer before her first year at a state university. She had no money, car, job, or support network (college was via grants/financial aid). Her single mother did not allow her to live at home if she kept the child. She chose abortion - then her friend guilt-ed her out of it. She then chose adoption. With the adoption she's allowed $3,000 in birth-mother expenses and used that to get an apartment for her next year in college.

She found a state licensed adoption agency and chose the couple to adopt the child. She got to know the couple and had such a good relationship with them that she invited them to ultrasound appointments and to be in the hospital for delivery.

In the hospital she signed the adoption papers which relinquished all parental rights. The adoptive couple took the baby home. Around 25 days later, the birth-mother supposedly changed her mind and wanted the baby back. The adoptive parents, deeply in love with their child, decide to not relinquish their child to the birth-mother.

The birth-mother called several lawyers who would not take her case. She contacted the student legal services of the university she attended. This is a state university in the same state where the adoption agency is licensed and the adoptive parents are residents.

The adoptive parents hired a lawyer to counter the birth-mother's claims that she was over medicated, coerced, under duress, etc. when she signed the adoption forms. Since the case was frivolous, the adoptive parents' lawyer sent the birth-mother's lawyer a letter stating that they would be asking the judge for sanctions (money to be payed to the adoptive parents since they payed so much to defend themselves).

The process of birth-mother's lawyers making claims and the adoptive parents providing proof against the claims went on for just over five months. Four days before the trial, the birth-mother's lawyer emailed the adoptive parents' lawyer. The email stated that if the adoptive parents dropped the request for sanctions then the birth-mother's lawyer would dismiss the case.

Since the child is the most important aspect of the case, the adoptive parents absolutely agreed.

The total cost that the adoptive parents payed the lawyer was $77,800.00. They are a middle income family and most of this money came from selling a payed off car, loans from family, and savings. They still owe the lawyer $20,800.00

Can or should the adoptive parents sue to get this money back? The lawyer that represented the birth-mother is an employee of the state. Should the suit be against the state or the college?
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 06:25 pm
You said:
"Around 25 days later, the birth-mother supposedly changed her mind and wanted the baby back. The adoptive parents, deeply in love with their child, decide to not relinquish their child to the birth-mother."

I believe that most of the time, the contract agreement gives the birth mother more time than 25 days.
sjd0103
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 06:48 pm
@PUNKEY,
This happened in Indiana. Indiana Code IC 31-19-10-1 states, " A person contesting an adoption must file a motion to contest the adoption with the court not later than thirty (30) days after service of notice of the pending adoption."

The birth-mother signed the Natural Mother's Consent to Adoption which also states, "I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS CONSENT IS IRREVOCABLE AND EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY." She not only signed this but also initialed next to this line.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 06:53 pm
@sjd0103,
That looks like an opportunity for a great counter-suit (frivolous and vexatious and all that) against the adoptive parents since they'd agreed not to pursue sanctions.

The whole 25/30 day issue is interesting. If the birth mother gets a good lawyer, she can probably sue her original lawyer, get funds from the E&O carrier and pursue custody properly the next time.

Interesting case.
sjd0103
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 07:29 pm
@ehBeth,
Are you saying that you think the birth-mother could sue her lawyer? On what grounds?

Also are you saying that the birth-mother could sue the adoptive parents? I assume you mean only if they sue for sanctions/damages.

Thank you for any clarification!
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 07:33 pm
@sjd0103,
yes to suing her own lawyer - for not handling the 25/30 day issue properly

then take the funds from that and pursue custody with a better lawyer

it's certainly what I'd encourage her to do if she truly wants custody of her child
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 07:36 pm
@sjd0103,
sjd0103 wrote:
The adoptive couple took the baby home. Around 25 days later, the birth-mother supposedly changed her mind and wanted the baby back. The adoptive parents, deeply in love with their child, decide to not relinquish their child to the birth-mother.


if she had 30 days and there's any evidence the prospective adoptive parents knew before the 30 day, she could perhaps sue them as well

I'd encourage her to look into it further.

Gotta say deciding not to relinquish "their" child is something a good lawyer for the birth parent would love to hear about.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 09:02 pm
@sjd0103,
Speaking as an adoptive parent I have to say that I think the law and the ethics are on the side of the natural, or birth, mother. I think the adoptive parents might have a case against the agency but not against the mother.

I understand how hard it would be from the perspective of adopting and having the child living in the home but I don't think that can over-ride how difficult it must be for the birth mother.

I don't think women considering relinquishing their child should make an adoption plan until after the baby is born. They should look at families but not meet them, there should be a support system in place while they make their decisions.

Personally, I couldn't live with myself if I knew my child's other parents wanted to and were able to raise him and I stopped that from happening.
sjd0103
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 09:03 pm
@ehBeth,
IC 31-19-10-3 states, "A consent to adoption may be withdrawn no later than 30 days after consent to adoption is signed, if the court finds that the person seeking the withdrawal is acting in the best interests of the adoptee."

It goes on to state that this 30 day window may not be used to simply change her mind and that the birth-mother has the burden of proof to show she was coerced into signing.

http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/2010/title31/ar19/ch10.html

All claims of fraud, duress, coercion, etc. were successfully disputed by the adoptive parents during discovery.

Curious if this changes your opinion...
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 09:12 pm
@sjd0103,
My opinion is that the law should (and does in my jurisdiction) err on the side of the birth parent/s.

I wouldn't want to be the adoptive parents-to-be who didn't respond promptly to the birth mother's request for her child at about the 25 day mark. I'd feel horrible about myself if I'd behaved like that.

If I were an advisor to the birth mother, I'd recommend consultation with another lawyer and suing the first lawyer, and pursuing voiding the adoption as it sounds like something shady was going on.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 09:13 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Personally, I couldn't live with myself if I knew my child's other parents wanted to and were able to raise him and I stopped that from happening.


this can't be said enough
0 Replies
 
sjd0103
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 09:17 pm
@boomerang,
The birth-mother made the adoption plan four months before she delivered. Recall that her first plan was abortion. Then she signed the adoption papers by her own free will.

When the adoptive parents had to decide what to do, a tremendous factor was the reality that the child would become homeless, hungry, and without any support system other than the birth-mother and any state/welfare type programs.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2011 10:27 pm
@sjd0103,
There is a reason that adoptions aren't finalized immediately. There is a reason for that 30 day window for a woman to change her mind.

Sure it sucks for the adoptive parents. Absolutely it sucks.

I've known some people who thought they were getting a baby and then didn't get a baby and it was awful. But when you compare it to the lifetime of regret the birth mom lives with I don't think it really compares.

Newborn adoption is an ethical mess. The person you speak of should look into foster adoption.
0 Replies
 
mysteryman
 
  3  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 12:06 pm
What about the birth father?
To the best of my knowledge he would have a case if he never signed away his rights.
According to an expert I talked to, the father must also sign away hos parental rights for the adoption to be totally incontestable.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2011 12:25 pm
@sjd0103,
sjd0103 wrote:
The birth-mother called several lawyers who would not take her case. She contacted the student legal services of the university she attended. This is a state university in the same state where the adoption agency is licensed and the adoptive parents are residents.

My guess is that student legal services didn't represent the birth mother. Student legal services rarely do anything except provide advice -- if that. I've never heard of student legal services actually representing a student in court. It may, on the other hand, have been a free legal aid clinic that was staffed by members of the law school.

sjd0103 wrote:
Four days before the trial, the birth-mother's lawyer emailed the adoptive parents' lawyer. The email stated that if the adoptive parents dropped the request for sanctions then the birth-mother's lawyer would dismiss the case.

If the adoptive parents' lawyer threatened sanctions against the birth mother's lawyer, then the birth mother's lawyer's offer to drop the suit in exchange for dropping sanctions was unethical and itself constituted sanctionable behavior.

sjd0103 wrote:
Since the child is the most important aspect of the case, the adoptive parents absolutely agreed.

And it would have been unethical for the adoptive parents' lawyer to agree to that kind of settlement. A pox on both their houses, say I.

sjd0103 wrote:
Can or should the adoptive parents sue to get this money back?

You can sue anybody for anything. You, however, want to know if you -- oh, I'm sorry, I mean the adoptive parents -- can win that lawsuit. That I don't know.

sjd0103 wrote:
The lawyer that represented the birth-mother is an employee of the state. Should the suit be against the state or the college?

You said that the adoptive parents dropped sanctions in order to settle the case. That may very well have been unethical, but that's what they did. And now they want to renege on that deal? Sorry, but nobody comes off looking good in this scenario, except perhaps the baby. God help that poor whelp.
0 Replies
 
 

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