A birth father who disagrees with an adoption plan. It happens more often than you think. So, what do you do?
Talking to the Birth Father
“Don’t shut out the birth dad,” says Kris Faasse, vice president of Bethany Christian Services, an adoption agency with offices in 36 states.
When placing a child for adoption, Maryland law stipulates that the birth father must be notified.
“Birth fathers start out with the same legal rights as birth mothers,” says Harvey Schweitzer, My Adoption Advisor. “They have a right to parent their child and a right to object to an adoption of their child.” However, in many instances, birth fathers are not brought into the conversation until after an adoption plan is created, which can lead to feelings of anger and resentment. This can quickly overturn the adoption, which is why it is often best to involve the birth father early in the process.
“To insure 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.
Even if the birth father is not in your life, 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 Happens if the Birth Father Fails to Respond?
If the birth mother and adoption agency make every attempt to notify the birth father of the adoption plan and he refuses to respond, the court can terminate his parental rights after the child is born and allow the adoption to happen.
What if You Don’t Know Who the Birth Father is?
“A birth father has a Constitutional right to be notified that he might be the father of a child who is being put up for adoption,” says Kourosh Akhbari, LegalMatch Legal Writer
Even if you do not know who the father is or where he may be, the adoption agency is legally obligated to search diligently for him and report the results of these efforts to the court.
“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 Akhbari.
If the birth father still cannot be located, the court can terminate his parental rights and allow the adoption to move forward.
What if the Birth Father Denies Paternity?
In the event that the alleged birth father is denying paternity, the adoption agency can get him to sign a consent as “alleged.” It takes a bit of counseling to help him understand the process, but it is certainly not impossible.
What if the Birth Father Refuses to Consent for the Adoption?
“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. In the state of Maryland, consent can be given any time after the child is born.
“If you and the birth father are unable to come to an agreement, it is still possible to procure a successful adoption for your child,” explains the Adoption Network Law Center.
You have a couple options.
Adoption Makes Family can Intervene
Sometimes involving a third party to mediate can be a tremendous help. Sit down with the birth father and a third party to talk about the situation and try to resolves any issues to do what is best for the child.
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
If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
Take the Matter to Court
If all else fails and the birth father still refuses to consent, the birth mother may decide to take the matter 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.
“The outcome will turn on when the birth father objected, the particular facts of the case, and the applicable laws,” says Schweitzer.
Let Adoption Makes Family Help
Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are 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.