Foster Care Frequently Asked Question #9

Publication Date: September 16, 2012



My parental rights were terminated.  Can this decision be reversed?


In most States, there is no provision for revoking or reversing the termination of parental rights except under certain circumstances such as fraud, duress, coercion, etc. Since termination is a legal issue decided by the court, you may want to consult with and/or retain the services of a qualified attorney who is knowledgeable in family law matters in your State to review the court action to terminate your parental rights. If you need assistance in locating and/or paying for an attorney, the American Bar Association (ABA) provides a lawyer referral service at Visit disclaimer page (scroll to the bottom of the page for a map of the U.S. which links to local resources) and the Consumers’ Guide to Legal Help at Visit disclaimer page provides pro bono attorney referrals and more. In addition, the following ABA website may also be of assistance, especially to anyone needing free legal help Visit disclaimer page. This site provides links to: free, State legal hotlines for individuals to call and speak to a lawyer; pro bono services for special populations; “unbundled" legal services (which means that individuals can handle part of the legal work themselves to save costs); and links to legal forms.

If you believe that your rights may have been violated in the termination of parental rights case against you, you may want to ask if the agency has an appeal procedure or an ombudsman. Many agencies have ombudsmen to help clients resolve differences with the agency. (The names of these offices vary and may include “Ombudsperson,” “Ombudsman,” “Ombuds Specialist,” or the Child Welfare Complaints Office.)  If the agency does not have appeal procedures or an ombudsman, you may decide to contact your State Adoption Program Manager. If you would like to take your concerns to this level, you can find contact information for all of the States’ Adoption Program Managers in the related organizations listing at Visit disclaimer page.  It is best to contact the agency adoption program manager only after other means of resolving the problem have been tried at the local agency level.

The Federal government does not have the authority to intervene in child welfare matters.  State and local agencies and courts make the decisions regarding issues such as child custody, child removal from the home, child placement in foster care, and the termination of parental rights in each State according to State law.

Current as of: