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Terminating Parental Rights?

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
Has anyone had experience with terminating parental rights?

DD's bio-dad has not seen her in over a year and the only contact he's made is one phone call to me over 5 months ago. He's up on his 4th or 5th DUI charge and facing more serious prision time so its not likely he'll be able to make contact anytime soon. Nor does he seem to want to...

Our state statutes say that if a 'no-contact' order has been in place for a year or more parental rights can be terminated. At the end of the month it'll have been a year since the judge signed revised orders stating that "placement will be suspended temproarily".... I wonder if that counts? I plan to ask my attorney, but what I'm really wondering about is what's best for DD

Her bio dad is an active alcoholic and has never really been able to be present in her life. He did get sober for a while about 4 years ago, but it didn't last and she doesn't remember it. We never lived together as a family and I married DH in 03. DS is nearly a year old and it looks and feels like a 'normal' family. DH is DDs dad for all intents and purposes. He wants to adopt her, and DD wants to change her last name to DH's.

But I wonder about the long-term impact. DD doesn't talk about her bio-dad anymore and never missed him. (Really. We talked and talked about it and he was never around enough for her to get attached to) I'm sure one day she'll want something more than what's she's got from her bio-dad, but who knows?

Anyone been through this? I'd love to hear what other families have done in a case where a bio-parent has just really not been present. How did you move on? What (if anything) did you do to make it official?

TIA
post #2 of 57
I haven't been through it but from what I understand phone calls count as contact and even having a court case going counts as contact. Pretty dumb, eh?
post #3 of 57
I have 4 children 2 from first husband and second from my current dh. Anyhow my x and i split at the beginning of my pregnancy with #2. He was abusive in manyways and an alcoholic. We had no contact for months after i finally left. He even just gave me sole custody no access to our ds#1. However i guess he must have regretted that cause afterr #2 was born he decided that he wanted to be an active dad again. I did as best i could to keep him away from my children I didnt want them to be thru what I had. The courts orderred him joint custody of #2 but he has never had a chance to take #1 and this is 6 years later! My ds is 8 now and he dont care, he loves his stepdad as his own, he even calls him dad. My X takes #2 for visits sometimes buys her stuff but it is like #1 had never existed which is just fine with him. He dont call him dad or refer to him ever it is so long ago nw that he just plain dont care or know anything any diff. My dh is super with my son. As i am figurein your dh is as well. I feel this is a more stable home and situation for him moreso than dd who is a very confused little girl She dont know if she is coming or going as he is not predictable at all. Something the courts fail to acknowledge.

I think you are doing the best thing for you child, looking out for their best interests is what we moms do best!

Jodie
post #4 of 57

Screwed up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mumof4
The courts orderred him joint custody of #2 but he has never had a chance to take #1 and this is 6 years later!
OMG, that is so screwed up! IMO if they don't want 1, they should get none...how disgusting our 'system' is. :
post #5 of 57
just fyi...I was a caseworker in Indiana and at least in this state if parental termination is taking place it must be done on both parents not one or the other. The reason being is mostly due to child support. I also think in order for an adoption to occur the bio dad needs to sign off his rights (only exception to one parent being terminated) my understanding is though that he must sign off voluntarily. Beyond that I don't know what more you can do, but cutting off all contact sounds like it would be in the best interest of the child.
post #6 of 57
My oldest's father was in and out the first eight years of his life... mostly out but a few years he was really a good dad. When Nate was 8, and starting to have mental health issues, his father decided it was more than he could take and told Nate he didn't want to be a dad. (In a letter ) Now, when he is 20, he still has no contact with him. He has some contact with his paternal grandmother who is clear that her son's decision isn't fair. I suspect that the story isn't over. As Nate is getting more successful and proud of himself, I think he will initiate contact again soon.

So- in answer to your question... I am glad that my hands are clean. Nate knows that I never did anything to keep his father from him. That was fully his father's decision. Nate knows that I loved his father but that his father isn't good at relationships. It wasn't about me, and it isn't about him. Nate knows his father. He is human and real. Not a fantasy, not a myth. Just a guy who kind of sucks.

I think that even a lousy role model, is a role model and Nate is the same age now that we were when we accidentally got pregnant and boy does he have a lot more understanding of how difficult our decisions were. I know that he takes birth control very serious. He will never be able to be a distant father. He is really starting to appreciate his stepfather, especially as he watches how much his little brothers are loved and how well his mother is supported.

Long answer, and really not much of an answer, just sharing my story.
post #7 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your experience Maureen - very helpful!

Your comment about 'clean hands' really resonated with me. More than anything I want to "do the right thing" - whatever that is. But judging from the gut-reaction I had reading your story, I realize that I won't feel right about keeping DD away from her bio dad for any reason other than fear for her safety and well being.

Right now I think those fears are justified by bio dad's behavior, but who knows what the future will hold...

I'm still planning to talk to my atty, just to explore the options, but for now my confusion is a sign that I ought to wait.

Thanks to everyone for sharing ideas and stories!
post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by prmom
just fyi...I was a caseworker in Indiana and at least in this state if parental termination is taking place it must be done on both parents not one or the other. The reason being is mostly due to child support. I also think in order for an adoption to occur the bio dad needs to sign off his rights (only exception to one parent being terminated) my understanding is though that he must sign off voluntarily. Beyond that I don't know what more you can do, but cutting off all contact sounds like it would be in the best interest of the child.
Actually, we live in Indiana right now and it was pretty easy. It's not final yet, but since my x refused the certified letter from my lawyer (that would have told him to either sign off or be prepared for a court date), we just had to publish a notice in a local paper (local to ex in VA) that my son was being adopted by my husband and that x's parental rights were also being terminated at the same time. It's been about 5 years since we had any contact. I get about $200 in child support every month (how that is figured is bogus IMO) but only because it is taken directly from his paychecks and sent to us.
post #9 of 57
Coming from a child ...

My mother married my father when I was about4 or so. I have a biological father. It was never really an issue to me. I love my dad. He held me when I was scared, he held me when I cried, he cried when I had my babies. He is my Dad. My biological father is in another state. At 15 my dad adopted me legally. Although all through life I have always used his last name. I have been in contact with my bio logical father recently. After 30 years I thought it might be nice to talk to him. My mother had never made any disparaging remarks about him. We talked via the internet once a few weeks back. He seemed all happy to hear from me. I gave him my e-mail addy and he has not e-mailed me yet. Oh well. Am I a heartbroken person because of it? No. I feel it's his problem if he does not want to get to know me.

My advice... do what you feel is best for your family. If dd is old enough have a frank and honest conversation. Do not bad talk her bio father just state facts in an open and honest loving way. Let her know that there may come a time when she may want contact with him as she grows into woman hood. Let her know that it is ok to feel that way. If she asks questions answere them honestly. I wouldn't say "He's a drunk." Just that he has a problem with alcohoal and that right now he really needs to work on that issue. I never felt "cheated" just loved and yet I still knew I had a father out there that did not try to contact me. Children take thier cues from their parents. Remain calm and strong. I wish you the best of luck.
post #10 of 57
My ex's parental rights were terminated and DH adopted him.......we had to hire an attorney (who hired some service) to serve ex with court papers.....he never responded to them and the judge terminated his rights....I think it really depends on what state you are in....
post #11 of 57
Another post from the kid's POV:

My biological father walked out when I was 3 weeks old because he wasn't ready to be a daddy. Apparently he visited once or twice before their divorce was finalized when I was about 18 months old. After that, he never tried to see me or talk to me, and never sent any child support. My mom eventually terminated his parental rights. The biggest reason was that if anything happened to her she didn't want me to have to be raised by this stranger just because his name was on my birth certificate.

She married my Dad just before I turned 4, and he adopted me just before I turned 6. He built me a playhouse in the backyard when my little sister was born, taught me to ride without training wheels, picked me up from school when I had chicken pox, taught me to drive a stick, and walked me down the aisle when I got married. He is my daddy in every sense of the word except biological.

My mom never talked bad about my sperm donor to me. She always tried to let me know where her fault may have been in their separation and his not coming around (granted, the woman is difficult to deal with at times, but I was his first-born for crying out loud!) Even after his rights were terminated, she never kept him from seeing me -he just never tried. When I was 12, and going through a really rough phase, she tracked down his parents and made arrangements for me to meet them. Though them I met my biological father. I stopped at the airport on the way home to call my Daddy and tell him I loved him.

I'm glad my mom did things the way she did. I have seen my bio father two or three times, the last being when I was 17 yo getting ready to join the Navy. He promised to send me a picture or my half-brother and half-sister in a birthday card for me 18th birthday. I'll be 27 next month and I've never seen a card or picture. Oh well. It was tough to come to terms with, but I have, and I don't waste any emotion on him any more.

ETA: Mom was in Texas when she had his rights terminated - she was able to do it because he hadn't paid a dime of child support in over 12 months.
post #12 of 57
Quote:
we just had to publish a notice in a local paper (local to ex in VA) that my son was being adopted by my husband and that x's parental rights were also being terminated at the same time. It's been about 5 years since we had any contact. I get about $200 in child support every month (how that is figured is bogus IMO) but only because it is taken directly from his paychecks and sent to us.
Wendy , I'm a little confused. If your ex's parental rights were terminated, why does he still have to pay child support? (I mean, it sounds like a GREAT deal, just different that anything i've ever read -- I understood that termination ended the parent's support responsibility, usually even for back support.)
post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seasons
Wendy , I'm a little confused. If your ex's parental rights were terminated, why does he still have to pay child support? (I mean, it sounds like a GREAT deal, just different that anything i've ever read -- I understood that termination ended the parent's support responsibility, usually even for back support.)
I'm guessing its back support. dd's father will owe us $22K after the termination is what I have been told but I plan on asking the judge about it.
post #14 of 57
If Dh and I could terminate bio mom we would.
She has never really been a part of dd's life and even told us last year she was gonna terminate her right but has now changed her mind b/c she can't have anymore kids by her own choice (tubes tied) and is basically being guilt triped by her own mom.

She walked out on dh and dd when dd was a almost 2
But now that she wants back in a very reputable lawyer with 37 years experience told us it probobaly iswnt gonna happen even if we try.

So now instead of "being a parent" she is just picking up dd and taking her out to places and buying her toys and having fun.

She wants the benefits of being a mom with out taking on any of the responsiblty.

And she owes dd $10 k plus
post #15 of 57

terminating rights

I think that most states have a "if they havent seen them for ----than you send a letter and publish in the paper" after you have fulfilled the inform the other parent as long as your spouse is adopting and the other parent does not contest than you should be fine.
As far as your child, I think it is real important that you take a stand to protect them, b/c some unstable or plan out bad parents will keep you on a roller coaster ride and change their minds and cause more harm than good.
If the rights are terminated and your husband adopts there is nothing to stop you from letting her continue to see him if it is good and enriching for her. This way, the only kind of contact will be safe and healthy.
I tried to let an unstable parent be part of my childs life and it turned out to be hell for him and very emotionally damaging. I wish I had done an open adoption when I had the chance.

Best of luck to both of you.

Jill
post #16 of 57
Here is my situation, FWIW. My DD has never met her biological father, he decided he didn't want any contact while I was still pregnant. I spoke to an atty when she was about 2 or 3 about terminating, and was told not to bother, because if he changed his mind later the termination may not hold water (looks like he was totally wrong about that--the atty is kind of odd, I wouldn't recommend him to anyone). I wouldn't have done it anyway, honestly, because I figured if he showed back up I'd let him have supervised contact with her anyway for her sake, so what was the point of terminating? My dad was (and is) alcoholic, *very* uninvolved, didn't pay his child support, etc. I still love him, because he's my dad, and we have a minimal relationship, I just don't like him a heck of a lot.

However, if your DH is going to adopt your child, that's different (easier, IMO). My DH adopted my DD when she was 6. At that point, we had to publish a notice in the paper of whatever city we thought he lived in, if he didn't respond parental rights were terminated and we could proceed with the adoption. Quick and pretty painless.

Edited to add: in my state, because her biological is not on the birth certificate, I make all the rules. Until the court rules otherwise, the mom has sole custody, and since in my case the biological father was an okay person--just flaky and irresponsible--I didn't have a huge problem with him getting visitation if he decided he wanted it a few years later. I couldn't imagine the mom-friendly courts in my state giving him much more than every other weekend, if that. Joint custody is still pretty rare here unless both parents want it, in divorce cases if Dad tries for joint custody he has to prove Mom at least partially unfit. Sucks, but there it is.
post #17 of 57

Oops

I am probably the only one that will say this, but really consider the options before you do this. I am not familiar with laws, but my father was on my birth certificate, never gave up parental rights, and I was still adopted. I don't know if laws have changed (i'm almost 30), but children really need to know. My parent were very honest with me about what had happened, and I was too young to ever know. I don't know your intentions, but if they are to negate the father completely - it will never work. You don't want too look like the bad guy in 15-20 years when you were only trying to do whats best. I suggest you contact an attourney. Perhaps if you live close to another state you can manage everything, parenting laws to carry over. At least I know that.
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cunninghamt12204
I am probably the only one that will say this, but really consider the options before you do this. I am not familiar with laws, but my father was on my birth certificate, never gave up parental rights, and I was still adopted. I don't know if laws have changed (i'm almost 30), but children really need to know. My parent were very honest with me about what had happened, and I was too young to ever know. I don't know your intentions, but if they are to negate the father completely - it will never work. You don't want too look like the bad guy in 15-20 years when you were only trying to do whats best. I suggest you contact an attourney. Perhaps if you live close to another state you can manage everything, parenting laws to carry over. At least I know that.
Your bio fathers rights were terminated when you were adopted by your step father. Having his name on the birth certificate means nothing. A new one was issued when your adoption was complete that had your step fathers name on it. Perhaps your parents just never shared that fact with you? I'm sorry if you were not aware of this.
post #19 of 57

Strange

I am almost 30, and am still recieving back child support. He finally got his life together after all these years, and have seen the adoption papers. Like I said I don't know current or statuatory laws, but I don't think that's what happened here.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeccalizzie
Here is my situation, FWIW. My DD has never met her biological father, he decided he didn't want any contact while I was still pregnant. I spoke to an atty when she was about 2 or 3 about terminating, and was told not to bother, because if he changed his mind later the termination may not hold water (I don't know if that is true or not, though--that atty is kind of odd). I wouldn't have done it anyway, honestly, because I figured if he showed back up I'd let him have contact with her anyway for her sake, so what was the point of terminating?
Your atty is incorrect and 1) its harder then hell to get the decision overturned and 2) it has to be done within X amount of time of the decision. (usually a year) The point of terminating is he could show up at any time and take your daughter or challenge you for custody. Do you want to have to allow him to show up drunk and demand to see your child or make her like miserable? or do you want the ability to control the visits and have it be on your terms? It sucks, you cant file for sole custody without serving him but if you cant find him you cant serve him and he can walk up and take your child at any time and you never see your child again and its legal. Your only recourse to protect your child is to terminate.
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