Navigating an adoption following an unplanned pregnancy can be stressful enough. Add on top of that a birth father who is either uncooperative or unsure about adoption and you have the makings of a truly volatile situation. So, what do you do?
You Have a Legal Right to Tell the Birth Father
You cannot shut the birth father out, even if he is uncooperative. Maryland law stipulates that the birth father must be notified. “They have a right to parent their child and a right to object to an adoption of their child,” says Harvey Schweitzer, My Adoption Advisor. “Birth fathers start out with the same legal rights as birth mothers.”
In cases where the birth father’s identity is uncertain, your adoption agency is legally obligated to search diligently for him. “Many states require that some sort of notice be published in the legal advertising section of the newspaper, informing all persons claiming to be the biological father of the pending adoption,” says Kourosh Akhbari, LegalMatch Legal Writer.
If the birth father still cannot be located or fails to respond, the court can terminate his parental rights and allow the adoption to move forward.
Start the Conversation Early
“To ensure the adoption is completed smoothly, with little deviation from your intentions, it is critical to develop open and transparent communication with the child’s birth father,” explains the Adoption Network Law Center. This means involving the birth father in the process right from the start.
Unfortunately, in many instances, birth fathers are not brought into the conversation until after an adoption plan is created. This often leads to feelings of anger and resentment and creates even more issues. Even if the birth father is not currently in the picture, it is important that he knows about the baby and your plans for adoption, so he does not try to come into the picture and assert his rights later.
What If He Still Doesn’t Consent?
“One of the biggest parental rights is the right to consent or the right to object to the adoption of one’s child,” says Akhbari.
Both parents must consent to adoption before a child is legally placed with an adoptive family. However, even if the birth mother and father are unable to come to an agreement, it is still possible that the adoption can move forward. There are a few ways this can happen.
- Mediation: Sometimes involving a third party to mediate can be a tremendous help. Adoption Makes Family works with birth mothers and fathers in all types of situations and will devote the time to getting to know you individually to determine the best way to move forward while respecting the wishes of both parents. Our staff is here to listen – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. 24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
- Court: If mediation fails, a birth mother can take the birth father to court. “At this point a judge must assess whether or not the birth father has followed appropriate measures as outlined by associated state laws, and demonstrated appropriate demeanor during the birth mother’s pregnancy,” explains the Adoption Network Law Center. At this point, the judge will determine whether or not the adoption can continue.
Adoption Makes Family Can Help
Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. We were founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
- Akhbari, Kourosh. “Adoption and Fathers’ Rights.” LegalMatch, 26 June 2018, www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/adoption-and-fathers-rights.html.
- Mann, Leslie. “Birth Dads Still Fighting for Bigger Role in Adoption Process.” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 9 May 2016, www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-birth-fathers-family-0105-20151207-story.html.
- Schweitzer, Harvey. “Birth Father Rights.” My Adoption Advisor, www.myadoptionadvisor.com/th_gallery/birth-father-rights/.
- “What Is a Contested Adoption?” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/what-is-a-contested-adoption.