If the natural parent(s) do not agree with the adoption, there is a hearing to determine if their rights should be involuntarily terminated. In this situation, an attorney must be appointed to represent the interests of the adoptee(s). An attorney may also be appointed for the parent contesting the adoption. When presiding over a petition for involuntary termination, the court must first consider whether grounds for involuntary termination have been established. Grounds for termination include instances where a parent has failed to perform any parental duties for at least six months, where a parent has demonstrated incapacity, abuse or neglect, or the child has been removed from the care of the parent(s) by an agency and parents have not been able to successfully remedy the situation which led to removal.
Once grounds for termination are established, the court then turns to the needs and welfare of the child(ren) involved. A major factor is the emotional bond between the parent and child and potential consequence of severing that bond. A parent’s representation of love and affection for a child without further corroboration, are not sufficient to prevent termination of their rights based on the best interests of the child. The role of the attorney appointed for the adoptee(s) is to elicit and relay the position of the children involved. The attorney may also weigh in as to whether the adoption proceeding would be in the child’s best interests and whether the benefit of adoption outweighs any harm from the termination. Other parties, such as social workers involved in the case, can also offer an opinion as to the welfare of the children and any possibility of irreparable harm in severing the parent-child relationship. If a final decree of termination is entered by the court, the case may proceed with adoption.