What does Birth Father mean?
The birth father is the biological father of a child. Although some adoptions may take place without a birth father's involvement, it is important to remember the birth father has the same rights as the birth mother, which means the birth father will remain the father unless a court terminates his rights or he decides to voluntarily relinquish his rights.
Protecting your rights in adoption
To protect your rights in an adoption it is important to make sure the birth father has agreed to the adoption and participates in the planning, thus ensuring that the birth father will not reappear later to challenge the adoption. Although every adoption has risks, those risks are increased if the birth father is not involved in the adoption process.
Adoptions should only be done through reputable agencies and attorneys who understand the rights of the birth father. If the birth father cannot be found there may be risks for the adoptive parents as the adoption progresses (i.e., the birth father decides later he wants to challenge the adoption).
What if I cannot find the birth father?
If the location of the birth father is not known state laws will outline what is considered "reasonable efforts" to locate a birth father. Talk to an adoption lawyer if you have questions.
Terminating a birth rights
Although state laws and procedures may vary, generally parental rights can be either voluntarily or involuntarily terminated.
Under voluntary termination one or both of the birth parents may decide to terminate their parental rights. Courts will allow voluntary termination but they will first evaluate whether the termination is in the best interest of the child, the reason termination has been requested, and whether the decision was made under duress or under the influence of any substance that could impair the judgment of the party in question.
A birth parent seeking to place their child for adoption may also request to have the other parent’s parental rights involuntarily terminated. Involuntary termination may be allowed after a legal proceeding is held and the court decides any of the following:
- The birth parent has abandoned the child.
- The birth parent abused the child.
- The birth parent failed to provide support to the child.
- The birth parent is in prison.
- The birth parent failed to contest termination of parental rights.
Talk to a lawyer about the specific reasons and laws in your state allowing parental rights to be terminated.
Identifying the birth father
It is not uncommon for unmarried parents to need to legally establish the parentage of a child. Although state laws can vary, this may be done by signing an official Declaration of Paternity or getting a court order which identifies the legal father.
After the parentage is established the court can determine child custody and visitation rules and outline the necessary child support payments. Most importantly, the designation establishes the rights, roles, and responsibilities of each parent.
Establishing parentage also allows the child to legally identify their parents, receive financial payments from each parent, have access to their parent’s medical information, receive health insurance benefits, and get other financial benefits (i.e., veteran’s benefits, SSDI benefits, SSA retirement benefits, etc.).
Talk a lawyer if you have questions about your state’s laws. Even if you do not want financial support from your child’s mother or father, there are other benefits of establishing parentage which should be considered.