October 11th, 2006
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Categories: Relinquishment

Relinquishment is not a fun subject or one that we touch on much, but if you are considering adoption and do follow through with making an adoption plan, it is something you are going to have to deal with at some point and something I feel we should probably cover.

What exactly is relinquishment?

According to adoption.com’s glossary of adoption terms, relinquishment is defined as the following:

In the context of adoption, this term generally refers to a birthparent voluntarily giving up his or her parental rights to a child, so that someone else can adopt it. In practice it generally refers to these parental rights being transferred to an agency, rather than directly to the new adoptive parents, so that the agency can maintain the level of confidentiality or privacy that the parties desire and have agreed to in the adoption. The agency then passes the parental rights on to the adoptive parents who adopt the child. The term “Relinquishment” is also very commonly used to refer to the actual relinquishment documents that are signed by the birth parents as part of the relinquishment process.


Laws on relinquishment procedures vary from state to state and various agencies even handle things differently within states, but that is just their policies within the law. Sometimes relinquishment papers are signed in the hospital. I don’t really agree with this policy anymore and think it taints the hospital experience. Sometimes parents can not terminate rights for a certain amount of time. And the laws typically differ for the biological mother and father. Sometimes fathers can terminate their rights prior to the birth of their child.

Again depending on your state, their may be a revocation period, meaning a pre-determined allotted amount of time that you can change your mind and reclaim your child. This can vary from twenty four hours to twelve days or even a month, depending on the state you sign relinquishment papers in.

In some states, you may be required to go to court and sign papers before a judge. The point of this is to make sure that you are crystal clear that once you sign those papers you will no longer have any legal rights to your child.

Find out the laws in your state, ask many questions, and be as positive as possible that you do want to sign those papers before you do. Don’t let anyone pressure you into signing them sooner than you feel comfortable.

To find more information on the laws in your state, go here.

Read my personal experience of signing the papers.

2 Responses to “Relinquishment”

  1. Can someone update that definition at all? For pity’s sake, why are we referring to the child as “it.” Boo.

    The signing of the TPR sucked. Both times. And I’ve only relinquished one child. Just another sucky part of my story thanks to an inept agency and lawyer. I’ll share that someday as well.

  2. Coley S. says:

    I was thinking the same thing about that definition Jenna!!

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