Can adoptive parents lose parental rights?

When people think of an adoption, they often picture a young couple adopting a newborn, but there are many different ways that adoptions come to be. One that is commonly seen in a Phoenix family law practice would be a stepparent adoption.

Stepparent adoptions can be by consent or contested. Generally, stepparent adoptions happen when a custodial parent remarries and the new spouse wants to adopt his or her spouse’s children from a prior relationship. As in any adoption, the one biological parent who is giving up their parental rights to the child– whether voluntarily or not–will have their rights to the child terminated and the adoptive parent then obtains the same parental rights and responsibilities toward the adoptive child as if it were biologically their own. 

Just as in cases of domestic violence against biological children, there are cases where adopted children are also abused. In either instance, it is possible for parental rights to be severed.

In Arizona, people with “a legitimate interest in a child’s welfare” can petition the court to sever parental rights. Such petitions are commonly made by the other parent, grandparents, doctors, foster parents, and Arizona Child Protective Services. 

Recently, an Arizona mother of seven young adopted children and at least three adult children was reportedly accused of “two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and five counts of child neglect”. Reportedly, the family “portrayed a loving home life on a popular YouTube channel” but allegedly were tortured behind the scenes, according to authorities. 

The allegations of abuse by the adoptive mother toward the children include:

  • pepper spraying their genitals
  • withholding food and water
  • locking them in a closet
  • restricting their bathroom use for days
  • holding their heads underwater.

Authorities were reportedly tipped off by the adult daughter; two adult sons were also reportedly charged. There are many reasons where parental rights can be involuntarily severed including chronic neglect or abuse of the children. 

If you have questions regarding stepparent adoption, severance of parental rights, or any other family law matter, Cohen Family Law help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

From our office in Phoenix, we represent clients throughout Arizona in all aspects of family law and conflict resolution whether through mediation, arbitration, or when necessary, litigation.