I have a 7-year old son. His mom and I have not been together since he was 2 years old and I have not seen him since he was 4. I have always wanted to be in his life and I have tried to keep in touch but she moves so much. I have asked to see him several times in the last several years but she says no. The only number I have for her was disconnected a year ago. I have tried to get a hold of her through her parents, but they always hang up on me and won’t tell me where my son is located. I have tried social media but I think she has blocked me. Last week I was served with a petition for stepparent adoption. Apparently her new husband wants to adopt my son and they are claiming that I abandoned him. They are now living in Georgia. What can I do? I don’t want to give up my son.
First, you need to get an attorney in Georgia and object to the adoption. The main issue will be whether your parental rights should be terminated based on your abandonment of the child. If your rights are terminated your consent to the stepparent adoption will be unnecessary.
In determining whether to terminate your parental rights, the Court will look at whether you have provided any support for the child or not, and whether you have attempted to maintain a relationship with the child or not.
Since it sounds like you have not been able to maintain a relationship with your son in the last several years, your objection to the petition should be supported by examples of how mother obstructed your relationship with your son. All of your attempted contact with your son is relevant. If mother failed to keep you informed of her new addresses and phone numbers that would be relevant. Any efforts to locate your son are relevant. If you can prove that you are blocked from her or the child’s social media accounts that would also be relevant. Any financial support you have provided should be documented. Above all, you must make clear your desire to have a relationship with your son.
A parent’s right to raise a child is an essential and basic civil right. The permanent termination of parental rights has been described as the family law equivalent of the death penalty in a criminal case. A parent must be afforded every procedural and substantive protection the law allows.
Your best defense is to present evidence showing that mother’s interference with visitation and communication between you and your son constituted justifiable cause for the lack or meaningful contact with your son. Ultimately, your child’s mother and stepfather will have the more stringent legal burden. They must prove their case.
Jessica H. Anderson
Divorce Attorney Reno, NV