My child was adopted out while I was incarcerated. What can I do to reconnect?

If your child was adopted while you were incarcerated, you should have received notice (in writing, on official court papers) of this adoption. Although you are incarcerated, you had the right to be present at any hearing where your parental rights could be terminated.[2496] If you were not notified and your child was given up for adoption, talk to a lawyer IMMEDIATELY to discuss your rights and what can be done. If you were notified of the hearing but chose not to contest the adoption or appear at the hearing, your options are much more limited. Once parental rights have been terminated, you are no longer considered the parent of — or even related to — the child in question.[2497]

A lawyer may be able to help you draft an agreement with the adoptive parents so that you can continue to have contact with your child. This may be a formal agreement in writing and filed in court OR an informal agreement between you and the adoptive parents.[2498] A family lawyer can advise you on which is the better solution.

  1. 2496

    Cal Pen. Code § 2625(d).

  2. 2497

    San Francisco Sup. Court, “A Parent’s Guide to CPS and the Courts” (2005), available at

  3. 2498

    Incarcerated Parents Manual, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, available at