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In the absence of fraud, duress, or undue influence, consents to adoption become final and irrevocable upon execution of the consent to adoption by the natural parents, and delivery and surrender of the child to the adoptive parents.
Appellant Mary Ann DeBernardi gave birth to a child on March 5, 1984. On March 7, 1984, before a magistrate, DeBernardi executed a consent to the adoption of that newborn child by Mr. and Mrs. D. Mr. and Mrs. D. filed a petition for adoption of the child on March 9, 1984. DeBernardi filed a written revocation of her consent to the adoption of the child on March 20, 1984. A hearing was held on the attempted revocation of consent in May of 1984 before a magistrate who denied the attempted revocation. That order of the magistrate was appealed to the district court which affirmed the order of the magistrate in March of 1985.
Was the birth mother estopped to revoke her consent to the adoption?
The court held that under the standards enunciated in prior case law, the magistrate court, as affirmed by the district court, was correct in its holding that the birth mother was estopped to revoke her consent to the adoption, and in having denied the birth mother's petition to dismiss the adoption proceedings brought by the adoptive parents. The court overruled prior case law and the estoppel approach to an attempted revocation of consent to adoption. The court held that when the natural mother changed her mind and litigation was instituted, there was a considerable passage of time before there was any resolution. The court held that the custody of the child had been with the adoptive parents for more than two years, with strong ties and emotional attachments, which inevitably formed. The court held that there was no evidence in the record, that the attorney allowed the adoptive parents to regulate his professional judgment in rendering services to the birth mother.