This guest post is by Andrea Cerny.
If you are considering adoption yet the birth father of the baby is not aware of the situation, you first need to make sure he is informed.
Adoption is a decision that both parents need to have a say in and it is not something that the mother can decide on single-handedly.
Definition of The Term “Father”
Defining the term “father” is not straightforward since the law has several different definitions for it:
- Legal father – the man married to the mother at the time of conception of the baby or the birth. A legal father can also be the person whose paternity was determined by the court.
- Putative father – a man who is the biological father of the baby but that hasn’t been legally confirmed.
- Alleged father – a man who is possibly the father of the baby but there is no legal determination of the paternity.
- Acknowledged father – a man who has signed an acknowledgment of paternity of the baby.
- Adjudicated father – a man who is given paternity by the court.
- Presumed father – a man who is informally recognized as the father of the child.
The father’s right in the adoption process depends mostly on which of the above definitions he falls under and the state in which the baby is to be born in.
Giving Consent to Adoption
The legal father of the baby must give consent to adoption—the mother can’t make the decision herself in most cases.
However, this mainly depends on the state the baby is to be born in. Only two states allow for the mother to make a decision for adoption without the father’s consent: Hawaii and Alabama.
Twelve states give both parents the right to give consent on adoption before the baby is born, while all other remaining states require a waiting period before consent can be given, which is usually few days after the baby is born.
Legally, for the adoption process to begin the father of the baby has to be established and his consent must be obtained, unless the father fails to acknowledge his paternal rights and responsibilities or if no objection is received within a given timeframe.
If the father is ruled as an unfit parent because of mental illness, history of domestic abuse or drug and alcohol abuse he might not be given the right to be involved in the decision by the court.
What if The Father Objects to the Adoption?
Regardless if the baby is born or unborn, the father has the right to object to the mother’s decision for adoption. However, he would first need to establish paternity.
If the biological father is not married to the mother, he is not considered a legal father.
Also, if he is not stated as the father on the baby’s birth certificate, he would need to prove his paternity in cases when he wants to stop the mother from going forward with the adoption.
This is usually done by a civil lawsuit by the father which requires DNA testing to establish paternity.
If the father doesn’t seek to acknowledge his paternity in a timely manner, it can prevent him from having any parental rights over the child, or it will be regarded as a failure to commit to the child as the father.
If the father is recognized as the biological parent of the child and he objects to adoption, he can execute his paternal rights by filing an objection to the court or to the Health and Human Service Department.
The objection usually needs to be followed by an intent for custody of the child. If the father is successful in the legal process, he will be approved full custody, and you might be asked by the court to pay child support to the father.
If the father is unaware of the baby this might mean that he will be stripped of all rights to make a decision about adoption if you made efforts to recognize him as the putative father through the Putative Father Registry.
In all states, the father needs to acknowledge paternity legally as soon as the baby is born. If the father’s lack of knowledge of the child is his own fault, the court can dismiss him as the father and not grant him any rights.
Even though it is not illegal not to tell the father that you are pregnant with his child, from a moral perspective, it is the right thing to do.
Additionally, lying or misleading the father, especially if he directly asked you if you are pregnant is against the law. This refers to both online and offline communication.
If you fear for your safety, you can seek an adoption coordinator to take over the case.
Adoption is not an easy decision to make, and you need to be certain that you want to go forward with it because revoking the decision can be quite difficult.
Informing the father would be the right thing to do—after all, both parents have their parental rights, and the decision should be satisfactory for both.
Please note: The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.
Andrea Cerny is a writer with Angel Adoption Inc. with a background in publishing, marketing, and online media.
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