Placing a baby for adoption can be one of the most selfless and loving things that a parent can do. It's a decision that's never made lightly and one that involves significant soul searching. But what about the baby's father? In the days of sealed adoption records, adoptions themselves were often kept as quiet as possible, leaving many biological fathers completely in the dark. Laws have changed since then, and of course, every state has different regulations concerning the legal rights of the father when it comes to adoption. Following are three things that you need to know about the legal rights of your baby's birth father.
He Will Need to Prove Paternity
Your baby's father will be required by law to determine paternity before he can legally object to the adoption of the child. This means that the father must first file a civil lawsuit and that you will most likely be required by the court to submit to a prenatal DNA test. This test is noninvasive, uses state-of-the-art technology, can be performed at any time after the 8th week of pregnancy, and has an accuracy rate of almost 100 percent. The procedure only involves a simple blood test, and in most instances, the courts cannot require you to have an invasive procedure such as amniocentesis for the sole purpose of establishing paternity. The financial responsibility for the DNA testing lies with the father.
His Consent May Not Be Necessary
If the pregnancy is the result of a committed relationship where you and the father were or still are married, unless the courts rule that he is unfit to be a parent, his consent will be necessary before the adoption process can proceed. However, things get more complicated if you and the baby's father have never been married. In some states, his consent will be required in the event that the two of you are or were domestic partners. Most states do not require his specific, signed consent if you and the baby's father have never been married or have never lived together. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you have no legal obligation to tell him about the pregnancy and that he does not have the legal right to contest the adoption.
He Must Be Informed of the Impending Adoption
The rights of biological fathers vary by state. You may be required by law to send him a notification stating your plans to put the baby up for adoption, and most adoption agencies and adoption attorneys send these as a matter of routine. If the father chooses to simply do nothing after he has been informed of the adoption, the courts in most states will move forward with the adoption process after a reasonable amount of time has passed -- usually not longer than several weeks. If his whereabouts is unknown, your state may require you to make a reasonable effort to locate him so that he can be informed of the situation. Some states have something called a putative father registry, which allows unmarried men to legally document sexual relations with individual women so that they can claim parental rights concerning any resulting offspring.
If you have questions or concerns about the legal rights of your baby's birth father, you should seek the services of a reputable adoption attorney in order to protect the best interests of everyone involved. In some cases, birth fathers who have not been informed of the existence of the baby or of the adoption have successfully filed for custody after finding out, resulting in pain and confusion for the adoptive parents as well as for the child.
For more information on placing your baby for adoption, check out a site like http://www.achildsdream.org.