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Translations Hinder Adoption Fraud

Legal Translation Services for Adoption

Foreign language document translation plays an important role in international adoptions. According to many adoption laws, such as the law in the State of Virginia, a parent cannot bring a collateral action asserting extrinsic fraud in order to set aside an adoption after six months from the date the adoption has passed. However, at least one Court of Appeals has held this type of statute to be unconstitutional when applied to a foreign language speaker. And the lack of foreign language document translation was the deciding factor in that case.

In one particular case, a foreign language speaking father, who actively participated in the raising of his child, signed adoption papers that were forced onto him by the child’s maternal grandmother following the death of the mother. The adoption papers were written in English, and no foreign language translation was provided. Because the father was also injured in the car accident that killed the mother, the child was given to the grandmother to be taken care of while he recovered. When given the papers to sign, he was falsely told that they were about medical information on the child.

According to the Court of Appeals, the statute was unconstitutional according to these facts because the father did not receive proper Due Process. The lack of Due Process was found because the adoption papers were given to him in a foreign language, without a foreign language translation and with the intent to commit fraud.

See F.E. v. GFM, 35 Va. App. 648, 547 S.E.2d 531, 16 VLW 116 (Va. App. 2001) and Virginia Code section 63.1-237.

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