When it comes to the aspects of adopting a child, you often think about the birth mothers. But what about birth dads? How can we embrace them as part of the adoption community? How can we show birth dads that they’re just as important in their children’s lives as birth mothers? In this article, I’ll talk about the importance of birth dads’ roles, the rights of a birth father, and how we can become more accepting of birth dads.
Would Circumstances Prevent a Birth Dad from Being Involved?
Yes, certain circumstances could prevent a birth dad from becoming involved in their children’s lives. The importance of the birth father’s consent in adoption varies by state. In some states, the birth mother needs the birth father’s approval before the hopeful adoptive parents can adopt their child.
If the birth mother doesn’t know where the birth father is, or the birth father is incarcerated, that also can prevent a birth father’s involvement. In those circumstances, the birth mother can proceed with the adoption placing process. If a birth mother works with an adoption agency, the agency will locate the birth father to let him know about the adoption.
Also, if the birth mother wants to place the child for adoption and the birth dad is against it, the courts will need to decide if the adoption is in the child’s best interest. The birth father can file an adoption objection, and he must show interest in raising the child.
What Rights Does a Birth Dad Have?
Birth fathers’ rights have come such a long way from what they used to be when placing their children for adoption. In Illinois in 1972, a father named Peter Stanley became a single father due to the death of his wife named Joan. Under Illinois law, Peter’s children were considered wards of the state because their mother was deceased, and they were placed with court-appointed guardians. Stanley disagreed with the court’s ruling because he was a great father, and he wasn’t proven to be an unfit parent. He also brought up the 14th Amendment that gives equal protection of the law. While the courts agreed with his claim about his parenting, they still wanted to separate Stanley from his children because of his wife’s death, bypassing his fitness as a parent. Stanley ultimately won the case, paving the way for birth father’s rights.
In 23 states, birth fathers have these rights if he is:
- Legally married or was married to the birth mother.
- Claiming that he provided for the child physically, financially, and emotionally.
- Able to prove in paternity court that he is the father.
- Listed consent to adoption if he’s on the birth certificate.
- He’s paid child support through court order or on his own.
Birth fathers can speak to an adoption specialist about their rights and options regarding the adoption placing process.
What Should I Ask the Adoption Professional When It Comes to Birth Dads?
Great adoption professionals will do everything they can to give support, advice, guidance, and access to resources to assist the birth dad. You could ask the adoption professional these great questions such as:
How are birth dads included?
What are the state’s adoption laws in regards to birth dads?
Did the birth dad claim his rights to participate in the adoption placing process?
Does the birth dad get to receive counseling and any other services?
Is the adoption plan that the birth dad chose right for my family and me?
What are the roles of a birth dad in adoption?
What Is a Birth Dad’s Role When It Comes to Adoption?
Birth dads are just as important as birth mothers. Sure, birth mothers are the ones who have to deal with the pregnancy and give birth, but birth dads also play an essential role. More often than not, birth dads want to be involved in their children’s lives.
If both parents decide to raise the baby:
If the birth parents decide to raise the baby as their own, they’ll have a lot to think about when it comes down to what it takes to raise a baby. A few of the many things to think about are financial stability, items all babies need, living arrangements, other children, and childcare. Raising a baby is a lot of work, and if both of the parents are single or don’t get along, those aspects make raising a baby even harder.
If both birth parents decide on abortion:
Abortion is an especially hard thing to go through for all involved. Even though it’s the birth mother who goes through with the abortion, the birth father can show support to the birth mother by being there for her and acknowledging her feelings before and after the abortion.
If both birth parents decide to place their child up for adoption:
There are many ways a birth father can become involved in an adoption.
Birth dads can help the birth mother find a reputable adoption agency, help choose an adoptive family, help create an adoption plan, and even be there after the child is adopted. Birth fathers can also develop a birth father adoption plan and be a part of the baby’s birth and the finalization process.
How Can You Be More Accepting of Birth Dads?
There are many feelings birth parents will have after adoption placement, and they’ll often wonder if they made the right choice.
You could start by considering their feelings and make an effort to connect to both the birth mother and the birth father. You could ask if the birth dad would like to become more involved in the child’s life and that you’re more than willing to support and accept him and as a part of your adoption triad.
Show Your Support
You could show your support for the birth dad by asking him if there’s anything you can assist him with. If he has an adoption visit planned with you and has no transportation, you could arrange a transportation arrangement with him. If he’s wanting to meet you but isn’t quite ready for a face-to-face meetup, you can accommodate meetings via Zoom or communicate with text and emails.
Another way you can show your support is by helping the birth dad reach any goals he has planned for the future. Maybe he’s a young dad who wants to get a job or apply for college. You can assist him with filling out applications. Perhaps the birth dad is facing homelessness. You can help him find a homeless shelter or help him search for an affordable apartment. Whatever the situation is, you can help the birth dad feel included and show your support by being there when needed.
Provide reassurance if the birth dad is feeling hesitant about his decision to place his child for adoption. Don’t take offense to this. Ultimately, it’s the birth parent’s decision, but you can make it easier by being yourself and not putting pressure on the birth parents to choose you to raise their child.
Birth dads are just as deserving as birth mothers when receiving support before, during, and after the adoption placement process. Birth dads should feel included, supported, and accepted. This leads to our next topic.
Accept Him For Who He Is
Birth dads are diverse regardless of age, race, religion, cultures, background, etc. Acceptance is a big thing for everyone. Everyone wants to be accepted by their community, and when it comes to birth dads in the adoption community, the same feelings apply. Be open to meeting him, and be aware of any bias that you might have.
Also, make an effort to get to know more about him and let him know about you. Be open about anything the birth parents ask and welcome curiosity. The birth dad will most likely have nervous feelings about meeting you, so be sure to be pleasant and warm. If the birth dad has specific questions for the adoptive father, use this opportunity to bond as dads.
What Else Can We Do As Adoptive Parents?
Whether the birth parents choose an open or semi-open adoption, you can send photos, letters and invite birth dads for visits with your child. Let him feel included by letting him help plan a day trip or fun activities to do while on his visit. Let him set up the time and place to meet. Let him decide what holidays and special events he’d like to be included.
Be sure to let the birth father be included in the conversations and not entirely focus on the birth mother. Start with great topics to talk about, and don’t overthink your words. Try not to bring up sensitive issues about the relationship between the birth parents, his employment history, or why he’s choosing to place his child for adoption. Instead, talk about his hobbies, his favorite tv shows, or whatever else you’d think he’d be interested in discussing.
Often, birth fathers feel left out of the loop and have feelings of resentment, so you should acknowledge his feelings as well. Birth fathers feel grief, sadness, regret, and other intense emotions, so please don’t take their feelings lightly if and when they express them to you.
Some Great Benefits With Birth Dads
One benefit of involving the birth dad in adoption is that your child won’t always have to wonder who their birth dad is. When birth dads play an open and active role in his child’s life, he provides a connection and lifelong bond. Also, adoptees can know about their backgrounds from both sides.
Another benefit is with your adopted child’s medical history. With both the birth mom and dad involved, you don’t have to ponder about any missing medical history when it comes down to your adopted child’s health. Adoptees can also learn about any other family history, like personality traits and characteristics.
A significant benefit to birth dads’ involvement in adoption is understanding why adoptees were placed for adoption. Feelings are more understood by having open conversations about the adoption from birth dads and adoptees, and birth dads can have peace of mind knowing their child is well cared for.
Open conversations don’t have to just take place between birth dads and adoptees. Some discussions can involve you as well. You can help the birth father by being the bridge of communication between him and the adoptee or opening the gate and letting the birth dad speak to both of you. Be open to listening and responding to conversations from both your adopted child and the birth parents. It’s okay to share your feelings, but don’t make the conversation all about you or the birth mother. Even if you have different opinions and feelings, don’t degrade the birth parents, especially in front of your adopted child. Birth dads need to feel and know that they’re valued and heard.
But What If the Birth Dad Doesn’t Want to Be Involved?
Sometimes, birth dads don’t want to be involved in the adoption process or even engaged in their child’s life. If a birth father has chosen a closed adoption, he values his privacy and confidentiality. If you find that your adopted child has questions about their birth dad, explain that they’ll have to wait till they’re of age to search for their birth father. It’s okay not to know why the birth dad chose a closed adoption, and it’s crucial not to pry into his personal life. Value his privacy, and if there’s a time when the birth dad would like to be involved in the adoptee’s life once they’re old enough, be welcoming to it.
I hope this article has given you some valuable insight into the involvement of birth dads. Remember to consider how he feels, accept him for who he is, and show your support. Birth dads are a vital part of the adoption triad, and it’s time the adoption community starts noticing them.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.
Kandice Confer is an adopted twin, wife, and mother of two girls who loves spending time with her family and two rabbits. She loves reading and writing inspirational works of literature and loves telling stories.