Termination: The Adoption Code

Termination: The Adoption Code

The purpose of termination in the Adoption Code is to make a child legally available for adoption. Except in the case of step-parent adoptions, all parental rights must be terminated for the child to be available for adoption. Termination may be achieved by Release, Consent, Disclaimer by a putative father or judicial determination.

  • A parent may execute before a judge or a juvenile court referee a voluntary release of a child to the DHS, to a licensed adoption agency or to the Juvenile Division for adoption.
    • Both "legal" parents must release unless:
      • The rights of the parent(s) has / have otherwise been terminated
      • The child has a guardian
      • The parent(s) has / have a guardian
    • If a child is born or conceived when the mother is not married or fathered by a man other than the mother's husband at the time of conception or birth and the mother does (or intends to) release, consent or is married to the petitioner for adoption, the court must hold hearings to identify and locate the biological father and determine his rights.
      • If the biological father cannot be identified or located, the rights of the unknown father will be terminated by the court.
      • If the biological father is the legal father (established by legal acknowledgement or prior court decision) or is a putative father who has established a custodial relationship with the child, he may release, consent or, in the case of a putative father deny paternity or an interest in custody. If such a father contests the termination, his rights could only be terminated after grounds for termination are proved at full legal proceedings under the Juvenile Code.
      • If the biological father is a putative father who has not established a custodial environment with the child, he may deny paternity, deny an interest in the custody of the child and parental rights will be terminated. If such a person claims he is the father and requests custody of the child, the court must hold a hearing to decide whether the child's best interests are served by being in the custody of the father. If so, custody is to be awarded to the father and the legal status of the father will be established by the court. If, after hearing, the court finds that custody should not be awarded to the father, parental rights will be terminated.
    • If a child is five years of age or older, the court must specifically find on the record that the release is in the best interests of the child.
  • A parent may execute before a judge or a juvenile court referee, a voluntary "consent" to the adoption of a child by a named person or married couple who meet the following criteria:
    • An unrelated person or married couple having a comprehensive home study completed by a licensed adoption agency, who is approved by the court for placement of the child, or
    • A relative within the 5th degree (and spouse, if any) who is approved by the court for placement of the child following investigation, or
    • The spouse of a custodial parent if a petition for adoption by that spouse has been submitted and authorized by the court.
  • Except in cases of step-parent adoption, both parents must consent to this specific adoption unless:
    • Parental rights have already been terminated
    • A parent has a guardian
    • The child has a guardian
  • A full guardian of a child MCL 700.424 may consent to the adoption of that child, including consenting to the guardian's own adoption of the child. The biological parent's rights will be terminated by this consent.

Adult, Guardian, Relative Adoption Cases

  • Adoptees over the age of 14 and guardians with specific authority must consent to adoptions. In relative cases, the birth parents must voluntarily consent to the adoption.
  • A consent hearing will be scheduled within 42 days of the filing of the petition (to allow enough time to complete the home study investigation).
  • Notice of hearing to adult adoptee, guardians, and birth parents in relative cases will be achieved through regular U.S mail.
  • Upon accepting the consent of guardians or birth parents, the court will enter an order terminating parental rights and schedule a confirmation / finalization hearing within 35 days.
  • In relative adoption cases, if, after diligent search, the petitioners are unable to locate the birth parents or the birth parents refuse to consent but have not provided for the welfare of the child, petitioners may file a neglect / abuse petition seeking termination of parental rights at disposition in order to determine if the presumed abandonment rises to the level of termination and thereby make the child available for adoption. In such a case, the adoption case shall be inactive pending the outcome of the neglect/abuse petition. Petitioner is required to have full guardian status.

Stepparent Adoption Cases

  • With the initial submission, the petitioners shall file a Supplemental Petition (PCA 302) if seeking termination of a legal parent’s rights or a Petition for hearing to Identify Father and Determine or Terminate His Rights (PCA 310) if seeking termination of a putative or unknown father’s rights (including unknown sperm donors).
  • The custodial parent must have sole custody of the minor child prior to filing the PCA 302 unless the non-custodial parent is consenting to the adoption.
  • For the court to properly serve birth parents, the petitioner must provide a reliable current address for the parent whose rights the petitioner seeks to terminate. If the petitioners are unable to locate the birth parent, they must conduct a diligent search for the parent and provide proof to the court, through declaration or affidavit, of their diligent efforts (MCR 3.802), using JC83.

Contested Adoptions

If a birth parent contests the petition to terminate their parental rights, the evidentiary hearing held by the Adoption Referee will be adjourned to be heard by the judge.

Appeal

Within 21 days after an order of termination in an adoption proceeding, a parent has a right to rehearing and an appeal of termination of parental rights on a voluntary or involuntary termination.

Contact Information

For more information about termination of parental rights, contact the Juvenile Court.

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