The Constitutional Rights of Birth Parents are extremely important. Parental Rights are recognized as fundamental rights under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United State Constitution. Whenever a Court must consider whether the best interests of a child require an adoption which is objected to by a birth parent, this would appear to conflict with those important constitutional rights. For this reason, the standards of proof which a court must consider before it can grant an adoption over the objection of a birth parent are very important.
Those standards of proof are totally different than the standards of proof which a court considers in a custody case. Those custody standards must be disregarded as they have no relevance whatsoever to a contested adoption case.
The Supreme Court of Virginia stated in the leading case of Copeland v. Todd, that “the meaning of ‘the best interests of the child’ is different in the context of adoptions, and must be read in light of the biological parent’s due process rights in his or her relationship to the child. Therefore, although the Code of Virginia uses the same phrase as our custody statutes, its definition is much more demanding.”