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Now we have a new legislation called "Juvenile & Justice Act, 2015" replacing the JJ Act of 2000. In this new act, adoption has assumed a significant importance with an exclusive chapter. Subscribe and follow this blog for more information in the days to come.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Can an unmarried & underage mother consent for her child?

Situation: An unmarried & underage mother (below 18) is grappling with a thought whether to keep the baby or to relinquish while the family had made a decision to relinquish.  Does the mother has any right to consent for her own child's future?

Many adoptive families have been told that their children were born to unwed underage mothers so they couldn't keep the child.  Question I want to ask is this: Has the unwed underage mother consent being taken to relinquish the child? Can she do so legally?  When I say consent, I meant can she sign the legal document and not just express her desire verbally?  

Legal experts seem to concur that unwed and underage mother cannot consent for her own child on a legal document because she herself is considered as a child (below 18 years of age).  

I have few questions to those legal experts:

  • If a person below the age of 18 is considered not fully developed mentally and intellectually to not to consider for legal consent, why does the adoption rule under the JJ Act require a child above seven years of age (JJ Rule (33)(3)(g)(vii)) to consent before being declared free for adoption?  

  • If a person below the age of 18 is considered not fully developed mentally and intellectually to not to consider for legal consent, why do we produce a child (above seven years of age) in conflict with law before the Juvenile & Justice Board as though he/ she understood the consequences of his/ her actions?        


My point is this:  There are parallels that can be drawn where a child is considered capable to understand and express his/ her opinion, consent must be taken.  We cannot treat a child in some circumstances as though he/ she is immature while at others as though matured (above examples).  Let's be consistent.  Moreover, who knows it better than a mother herself whether to keep the child or not?  Who is protecting the "Right to a family" of the defenseless infant or an unborn child?  Who is protecting the 'Best Interest of the Child'?  What are your thoughts?

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