Often, most conversations surrounding the adoption process focus on the birth mother, the adoptive family, and, of course, the child. Just as important in that process, is the birth father. Unfortunately, he’s often left out of the conversation.
Who is he? What role does he play in the adoption process? Adoption Choices of Missouri is here to tell his story! Depending on the individual situations of both birth parents, a birth father’s role is legally equivalent to that of the birth mother. Below, we list several common scenarios and explain how the circumstances may impact the role of the birth father.
Who is He?
A birth father is a man who conceives a child. A child who is later adopted or for whom an adoption is planned. He may also be called the biological father. The term ‘putative father’ generally refers to a man who is the alleged biological father of the child but whose paternity has not been legally established.
The Consenting Birth Father’s Role
When the birth father consents to the decision to place his child for adoption and wishes to be involved in the process, the adoption largely follows the same process as it would were the birth mother the only parent involved in the process. He can provide input for how open he would like the adoption to be, as well as provide input for which adoptive family is chosen. If the adoptive father wishes, he can be involved at every level! He, too, has rights.
The Non-Consenting Birth Father’s Role
Whether the birth parents are involved in an ongoing relationship or not, the birth father’s consent is typically required for adoptions. When the birth father does not consent to placing the baby for adoption and would like to take on the responsibility of raising the baby on his own, he will need to petition the court for custody. Doing so requires that he confirm his paternity of the baby and that he demonstrates his ability to provide a safe, loving, and healthy environment in which to raise the child. If he is found to be a fit parent and his paternity is confirmed, he will typically be awarded custody of the child. If the birth father does not consent to placing the baby for adoption and is instead pushing for the termination of the pregnancy, the birth mother ultimately will be in charge of making this decision. The birth father cannot force the birth mother to terminate the pregnancy against her will.
The Unknown Birth Father’s Role
If the birth father is unknown, a routine search of the Missouri Putative Father Registry (MPFR) will need to be done to determine if the baby can be legally placed for adoption. In order to help unwed fathers have the opportunity to be their child’s life, Missouri established the MPFR, which allows men who believe they are the father of a child, to legally claim that child with the state.
If a man believes he may have fathered a child and wants to be informed if the child is placed for adoption, the MPFR allows him to register as a putative father. By providing his name and address as well as the mother’s name and the child’s age or estimated due date, a putative father will be notified if the mother attempts to place a child with the correct estimated age for adoption. From that point, once he’s verified paternity, his role in the adoption process will be determined by whether or not he consents to the adoption.