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Birth Father Rights

You are pregnant and you have carefully considered your three options: parenting, abortion and adoption. You immediately eliminate abortion because you know you can’t live with yourself if you made that decision. Of course, you would prefer to raise your child yourself, but you feel it wouldn’t be fair to your baby and yourself because of your financial situation and the void left by the lack of a father figure for the child. Therefore, you are considering adoption, but you don’t understand the rights of the birth father.

The relinquishment of the birth father’s parental rights is different for every state, but more times than not his parental rights can legally be terminated whether he is identified, unidentified, supportive or unsupportive of the adoption. The only thing you can do as the birth mother is to make sure you choose a respectable adoption professional, usually a national adoption agency, which can provide the expertise to effectively handle all of the state-specific legalities involved in the relinquishment of the birth father’s parental rights.

There are several different birth father scenarios, each with different implications of the adoption’s finalization.

Supportive Birth Father

The best-case scenario is for the birth father to be supportive of the adoption. In this scenario, the birth father is willing to work with you as a team to ensure that the child will be given the best life possible with a loving adoptive family. Most often the birth mother fights the emotions of grief and loss on her own, but if the father is supportive of your decision, he will be experiencing the same emotions, which both of you can work through together.

If this does not describe your scenario, do not worry because identified, supportive birth fathers are unfortunately somewhat uncommon.

Unsupportive Birth Father

This is the most common scenario because many birth mothers usually wouldn’t choose adoption if their child had a father figure in his or her life. This void left by the birth father is often the main reasons birthmothers choose adoption, sometimes even more so than financial struggles.

If the birth father is unhappy about the pregnancy itself, he will most likely be unsupportive of the adoption as well. Some birth fathers even attempt to run from the situation by pressuring the birth mother into having an abortion, thinking that will make the “problem” disappear. As you know, that isn’t the case because youhave to deal with the consequences of the abortion, not him. Then years down the road, you may resent those who led you down that path because of the emotions you still feel from the abortion. Be upfront with him about your reasons for choosing adoption and why it is the right decision, and if he isn’t receptive to your reasoning, remain strong in your conviction. After all, it is your decision, and don’t ever forget that.

By placing your baby for adoption through a national adoption agency, a social worker can help the birth father understand the adoption process and why it is the best decision. National adoption agency’s social workers are experts on state laws and have access to lawyers who can answer any unsupportive-birth father-related questions.

Unknown Birth Father

Even if the birth father is unknown, the court can still proceed to relinquish any of the possible birth fathers’ rights, although state laws vary greatly. Your social worker will explain the state laws to you and how the adoption process works when the birth father is unknown or unable to be located.

Known Birth Father

The man named by the birth mother as the birth father is known as the “putative father.” The putative father is sought by the agency and attorney to relinquish his parental rights in most adoptions. If he denies being the father, he has three possible choices of action based on state laws:

  1. Relinquish his parental rights by writing that “he doesn’t believe he is the father, but if he is, he relinquishes any rights.”
  2. Ignore the court and agency’s attempts at serving him consent papers to relinquish his rights, in which the court would then involuntarily terminate his rights.
  3. Although rare, the birth father can take a DNA test to disprove his paternity.

The relinquishment of the birth father’s parental rights can be a complicated process because of the each state’s intricate laws. This, however, isn’t something you should concern yourself with as thenational agency you place with will take care of all of the legalities associated with the adoption.

The one thing you can do to help the process is to be open and direct with the birth father and tell him why adoption is the correct decision for your baby. Tell him you’d appreciate his help and acceptance of your decision.  No matter what his feelings are, the decision is yours and yours alone, and the adoption will almost always be successful with him or without him.

Other Resources:

Birth Father Rights Regarding Child Adoption

The Right of Presumed (Putative) Fathers

Birthfather Legal Rights — What You Need to Know