While some prospective birth fathers are supportive of a woman’s adoption plan, others are less involved and some even object to the adoption. Birth parents and adoptive families often wonder how the birth father might impact their adoption, especially if the birth mother is hoping to pursue adoption when the father is unknown, unsupportive, or uninvolved in the process.
In Arizona, a man is considered to be a child’s legal father if he is or was married to the child’s mother any time in the 10 months immediately preceding the child’s birth, if he and the child’s mother sign the baby’s birth certificate or a statement acknowledging paternity, or if genetic testing shows a 95 percent probability of paternity. A child’s legal father has parental rights that will need to be terminated.
However, in many cases, it is still possible to safely complete a legal adoption without the father’s consent. Here are some common situations when it may be possible to complete the adoption without his consent:
- Adoption when the father is unknown: Individuals considering adoption often have questions about an unknown father and adoption. If for any reason the father or his whereabouts are unknown, the adoption may be able to proceed without his consent.
- In Arizona, a man’s parental rights may be terminated if his identity remains unknown after three months of diligent efforts to identify and locate him.
- Arizona has also established a Putative Father Registry to enable prospective birth fathers to protect their right to receive notice of proposed adoption proceedings. A putative father who does not file with the registry within the required timeframe waives his right to be notified of the child’s adoption, and his consent is not required. Lack of knowledge of the pregnancy is not considered an acceptable reason for failure to file.
- Adoption when the father is unsupportive: It is common for birth fathers to not understand their rights or the adoption process. This uncertainty can lead many fathers to be hesitant to support a woman’s adoption plan. Adoption professionals can provide the education and support putative fathers need. If a prospective birth father remains unsupportive of the adoption plan, he may need to demonstrate his desire for custody and his willingness to support the child in order to maintain his parental rights. In certain circumstances, his parental rights may be terminated by the court.
- Adoption when the father is abusive: Abusive relationships endanger not only the prospective birth mother, but also her children. Any woman experiencing abuse should seek counseling and support throughout the adoption process. Adoption professionals may be able to provide legal protection and additional resources to help a prospective birth mother remove herself from the abusive relationship. An adoption attorney can help expectant mothers better understand their options in these situations.
There are many other birth father scenarios that can impact the adoption process. Whatever role the birth father is playing in your adoption situation—whether he is supportive, unsupportive, unknown, or uninvolved—we can help you understand his rights and your options based on your unique circumstances.