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Do I Have to Tell the Birth Father?

Young mother sitting on a bench talking to the birth father. Their backs are to the camera.One of the most common questions we receive from birth mothers considering adoption is whether or not they have to tell the birth father about their plans. And the simple answer is Y-E-S. Legally, the father must consent to the adoption in order for it to proceed. Maryland law stipulates that the birth father must be notified before an adoption can occur. 

“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.”

When Should I Tell the Birth Father?

“Don’t shut out the birth dad,” says Kris Faasse.

Unfortunately, in many instances, birth fathers are not brought into the conversation until after an adoption plan is created. However, “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 father in the process right from the start – even if he is not currently in the picture.

I 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. 

In cases where the father’s identity is unknown, your adoption agency is legally obligated to diligently search 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 cannot be found, or fails to respond, the court can then terminate his parental rights, allowing the adoption to move forward.

What if the 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.

The Birth Father Doesn’t Consent…Now What?

“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. Still, “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. There are a few ways this can happen.

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.

Unfortunately, if mediation doesn’t work, this typically means taking the matter to court. A judge will 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.” Then, the judge will determine whether or not the adoption can continue.

Adoption Make Family Can Help

Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Sources

  1. Akhbari, Kourosh. “Adoption and Fathers’ Rights.” LegalMatch, 26 June 2018, www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/adoption-and-fathers-rights.html.
  2. 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.
  3. Schweitzer, Harvey. “Birth Father Rights.” My Adoption Advisor, www.myadoptionadvisor.com/th_gallery/birth-father-rights/.
  4. “What Is a Contested Adoption?” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/what-is-a-contested-adoption.
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