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August 6, 2013
Parental Rights

Parental Rights

* Every state and territory in the United States
has its own statutes pertaining to termination of parental rights.

* Termination of Parental Rights
can be either voluntary or involuntary.

Voluntary Termination : Birth parents can place their child up for adoption by voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights. This type of termination is seen most typically when a young women chooses to give birth to her child, and to give her baby up for adoption.

Involuntary Termination:
According to The Department of Child Welfare at, most states require that a court determine:

1. The parent is unfit – This must be determined by clear and convincing evidence and of course is open for interpretation as to the definition of ‘unfit’ as well as what is to be considered ‘clear and convincing evidence.’
2. The best interests of the child are met by severing the parent-child relationship – One has to wonder how this is definitively determined and by whom with what evidence.



It is stated that the grounds for involuntary termination of parent rights involve specific circumstances that prove risk or harm to the child if they are returned home, or proof that the parent is unable to provide the child’s basic needs.

Most states adhere the following grounds when making these determinations.
• Sever or chronic abuse or neglect
• Sexual abuse
• Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
• Abandonment of the child
• Long-term mental illness or deficiency of the parent(s)
• Long-term alcohol – or drug-induced incapacity of the parent(s)
• Failure to support or maintain contact with the child
• Involuntary termination of the rights of the parent to another child

According to the Department of Child Welfare, “these factors become grounds for terminating parental rights when reasonable efforts by the State to prevent out-of-home placement or to achieve family reunification after placement have failed to correct the conditions and/or parental behaviors that led to State intervention.”

Having personal experience with the foster care system and this issue in particular, I can testify to the over-shadowing fear of law suits that dictates the improper return of children who have already been victimized terribly to hurtful, harmful parents with no real desire to make any changes or improvement to their lives or in the lives of their children.

There is a very enticing, reliable monthly income that almost all these children provide in the form of SSI and the neglectful or abusive birth parents rely on that check so when threatened to ‘lose their children,’ the legal battle (sponsored of course by government funded legal aide) begins.

It has unfortunately become so commonplace that way too many of the listed grounds are minimized or ignored and reunification has become the outcome whether it is truly in the best interest of the child or not.



I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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