Biological fathers’ rights vary greatly depending on the state and county. To find out exactly what rights birth fathers have in your area, talk with your adoption agency, or research the laws in your specific region. However, the basic process is the same everywhere.

Father’s Rights

The biological father needs to be notified and given the opportunity to make a decision to place his child or not. In many states, the birth father’s consent is not required for an adoption to occur. This is because the biological father is not always known, safe, or involved.

The normal procedure to terminate the birth father’s rights is to put out an announcement in a newspaper or other public forum for 30 days. If he does not come forward, the adoption can usually proceed. However, if he does come forward, in most states he has just as many rights as a biological mother. If he comes forward in the time legally allotted by the state and establishes paternity, he can contest the adoption. If he can prove that he is in a position to parent the child and is willing to take custody, he can stop the adoption. Then, if he is willing and able to parent, he has every right to do so.

Termination of Parental Rights

If at all possible, the biological father should sign papers that terminate his parental rights. This will make the adoption finalization a lot easier because as soon as he and the birth mother relinquish their parental rights, they cannot contest the adoption. Moreover, birth fathers have emotions too. They may feel the loss of placement just as much as a birth mother. Providing the birth father the opportunity to make a choice to place will help him find closure and cope with the complex emotions that come with placing a child for adoption.

Learn more about the role of birth fathers in adoption here.

If you are a birth father seeking to search and reunite with a birth child, or and adoptee wanting to search and reunite with your birth father, visit for a comprehensive search and reunion guide.

You can also connect with others discussing birth fathers in adoption by joining an adoption message board at

Annaleece Merrill is a birth mother to the cutest little girl on earth. She loves being an advocate for open adoption by writing, mentoring, and speaking at adoption panels. She attends Utah State University in Logan, Utah.