The laws governing the signing over of parental rights is outlined and enforced by each state. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, birth fathers can sign over their consent to an adoption placement any time. Many states may have similar statutes. Regulations regarding birth mothers signing over parental rights are slightly different. Almost no birth mother is allowed to sign over her rights until after the child is born. Some states, like Illinois, require the birth mother to way 72 hours, or three days, before signing over parental rights to the adoptive couple. In Louisiana, mothers are asked to wait five days before signing their consent forms.
Even after a birth mother signs over her rights, if a birth father comes forward after she has signed the paperwork and before the adoption is finalized, he can technically attempt to gain full parental rights over the child. A Catholic Charities USA survey found that many fathers are somewhat committed to a birth mother either prior to or sometime during the pregnancy. If a birth father can indicate he was unaware or unable to get involved in the pregnancy before the child's birth he may have a better chance at gaining parental rights to the child and a say in the adoption.
An adoption is not finalized until about a month or six weeks after a child is placed with an adoptive family and a case worker has written and submitted a petition in favor of the adoptive parents having full parental rights to the child.