When one thinks of adoption, the idea of a choice to place is often thought of in regards to a birth mother. This is what society has taught us and what the media has ingrained in us. However, where there is a birth mother, there is a birth father who has rights to parent that should be addressed. Regardless of the situation, gaining a birth father’s consent, or at the very least making an effort to do so, is of the utmost importance.

In a private adoption, the need for or execution of consent is going to depend on the situation of the birth parents. In some cases, the birth father is known and consents to the adoption without issue. If the birth father is unknown, depending on the state, there will be a search of the putative father registry to see if anyone might be looking for the child. There will also be a publication in the local paper to see if the father will respond to an ad in search of the child’s father. There is typically a timeline of 30 days to allow the father to respond before an adoption can move forward.

In some cases, the birth father is known and does not want to place the child. It’s vital that a birth father’s choice to parent be respected. If the birth mother is okay with the father retaining custody, it can be as easy as her relinquishing her rights and assigning custody to the father. If the birth mother still wants to move forward with adoption, she will petition the court and have the birth father served with paperwork. Typically, the birth father will be required to show that he can provide for the child and is able to supply safety and security. There will also be special consideration given to placement if granting custody to the father or family would put the child in danger, such as in cases of domestic violence or an extensive criminal record.

In most cases, a judge will almost always grant custody to a birth father or the family of a birth father who can provide a stable and safe home. If the birth father is unable to meet these requirements and family is not available to step in, the birth mother’s request for placement may be granted. The goal is always for a child to reside with his or her biological family, if possible. A birth father’s consent should always be sought where possible, as it first and foremost protects the rights of the birth parents but also ensures a legal and ethical adoptive process.

Watch a video about the role of birth fathers here.

Written by Lita Jordan