January 7th, 2008
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Categories: Adoption Laws

In a recent post in the Hoping to Adopt blog, Faith discusses the fact that in a few states (Alabama, Hawaii, and Washington State) expectant mothers can sign relinquishment papers terminating her parental rights before birth. Although it is legal in those states, it is not required and that is something that you as an expectant mother considering adoption should be aware of.

In Alabama, an expectant mother can sign relinquishment papers while she is pregnant but they must be signed and confirmed before a probate judge. Then has five days to withdraw the consent after the baby is born.

In Hawaii, an expectant mother can sign relinquishment papers after the sixth month of pregnancy, but she has to sign a reaffirmation after her baby is born.


In Washington State, an expectant mother can sign relinquishment papers anytime before birth, but they can not be filed with the courts until at least forty eight hours after the birth of her baby.

As you probably could have guessed, I’m not a big fan of this idea. I honestly can’t think of one single reason that signing pre-birth would be a good idea.

For starters, I’m a big believer in the “making the decision twice” theory meaning that an expectant mother typically makes the decision to place during birth and then again after birth. Although she could still revoke her consent, signing before birth takes away the second decision in some sense because she already feels like or is called a birthmother. I also think that if an expectant mother signs before birth she is less likely to feel that she can revoke her consent and more likely to already feel like a birthmother or feel disconnected from her child.

I also think that signing pre-birth is misleading to hopeful adoptive parents. Although I know it is heartbreaking for hopeful adoptive parents if a mother they are matched with changes her mind at any point, I think signing pre-birth could give the adoptive parents more security but then be even more devastating if the mother changes her mind.

I do know one birthmother from Washington State who signed relinquishment papers before the birth of her child. She wasn’t aware that she didn’t have to sign then. Although I’m sure it might be easier for adoption attorneys or adoption agencies if relinquishments were signed pre-birth, you do not have to!

Source for the Law Information

Related Posts:
Adoption Laws
Laws Different in Every State

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5 Responses to “Signing before Birth?”

  1. Although I’m sure it might be easier for adoption attorneys or adoption agencies if relinquishments were signed pre-birth, you do not have to!

    In fact, I would personally push it a little further and say that mothers “shouldn’t sign” prior to birth. (Let me stretch that to mothers AND fathers.) This is one thing I cannot and will not ever agree with!

  2. scarlet moon 13 says:

    For states to allow signing before giving birth is morally reprehensible, down right evil.

    It should never be allowed.

  3. Coley S. says:

    Agreed Jenna and Scarlet! Thank you for the comments!

  4. jpdakota says:

    I sometimes differ from you on opinions, but I’m in lock-step with you on this one.
    I, too, am a believer in making the decision twice. BOTH times should be after the mother has had the opportunity to hold, feed, talk to that baby. My goodness!

  5. pat johnston says:

    I completely agree with this as well, Coley. Expectant parents are mothers and fathers, and they should not be asked to commit to adoption until after the baby is born.

    Now, how soon after is a whole other can of worms! I am a steadfast believer that children need and deserve permanency from the earliest days of their lives. Several weeks or months of foster care is not child-centered thinking!

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