Adoption refers to the act by which an adult formally becomes the guardian of a child and incurs the rights and responsibilities of a parent. At the conclusion of the formal process, a legal relationship between child and guardian will have formed. The legal relationship results in the adoptee becoming the legal heir of the adopter and terminates any legal rights then in existence with the natural parents.
While certain jurisdictions only permit one of the two types of adoptions, other jurisdictions recognize two types of adoptions – open and closed adoptions.
An open adoption permits the birth mother to select her child’s adoptive parents. A closed adoption, meanwhile, results in the birth mother relinquishing all rights over the child and allows a state administrative agency to conduct the selection process. Some jurisdictions also permit the parents in an open adoption to maintain their visitation and contact rights. Most cases in which parental rights are terminated occur because of a consensual forfeiture of those rights by parents. Generally, a parent cannot revoke a consensual forfeiture.