What to Know About the Responsibilities of a Father in Adoption
In discussions about things like unplanned pregnancy and adoption, much of the attention is often focused on one person: the expectant mother. And it makes sense — ultimately, it is her body and her choice, and the reality is that many women go through these decisions and processes without much involvement or interest from the father of the baby.
Of course, that’s not always the case — and if you are a potential birth father interested in pursuing adoption, it may be difficult for you to find answers to your questions. Questions like:
“Can a father give a child up for adoption? What is the father’s role in the adoption process? What if I want adoption, but the mother doesn’t? Is this my choice, too?”
Our culture’s understanding of masculinity may make you feel like you have to hide these questions and how challenging this is for you. You’re the man. You’re “supposed” to be tough and unflinching. You’re supposed to know exactly what to do and how to handle the situation. You’re certainly not supposed to “give your child up.” And if you and your child’s mother do choose adoption, you’re supposed to swallow any difficult feelings you might be having about that decision.
But for most prospective birth fathers going through an unplanned pregnancy with a partner or spouse, it’s not easy. Just as the prospective birth mother needs help — whether that’s emotional support, practical services or other guidance — you do, too. The truth is that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to admit how hard this is.
It’s also good to admit what you don’t know. What are the unplanned pregnancy options? How does adoption work? What are the responsibilities of a father in adoption? What rights does he have? Can a father put his baby up for adoption without the mother’s consent? Asking these questions isn’t a sign of weakness or ignorance. It’s a sign of strength and wisdom. Being fully educated on adoption is the first step in making an adoption plan and supporting your partner through this process. A prospective birth father who sets aside his ego to be as supportive as possible is the real man — not the one who acts indifferent or pretends to have it all together despite his struggles.
Can a Father Put a Child Up for Adoption?
As you and your partner are working through options in response to an unplanned pregnancy, you may be wondering, “Can a father put a child up for adoption?”
The answer is yes. Both parents can work together to create an adoption plan for the baby.
It shows a great deal of maturity for a man to ask this question and to involve himself in the adoption process. The mother of your child deserves your support as she makes this decision and works through her adoption plan — but unfortunately, not every birth father steps up to the plate like you are.
That may be because of the stigma many men feel when a father puts a child up for adoption. Prospective birth fathers can experience the many complex emotions that come with an adoption decision — and those feelings are often compounded by a sense of embarrassment. Men are often made to feel like, by supporting an adoption, they are not living up to the responsibilities of a father. Unsupportive family members, friends and even society at large might make them feel as if they are “giving up” or failing their child by not being able to provide the type of life an adoptive family could.
If you are currently struggling with feelings like these, know this: there is no shame in supporting an adoption plan. Fathers that “give up” a child for adoption are not “giving up.” They are not “weak” or “irresponsible.” In fact, supporting the birth mother in her adoption plan is the most responsible thing you can do.
Choosing adoption is often referred to as “giving up” or “giving away” a baby, but this decision isn’t giving up at all. It’s doing something brave that can benefit yourself, your partner and the baby — not to mention the hopeful adoptive parents who will be overjoyed at the opportunity to be placed with your child.
Fathers that “give up” a child for adoption are making a selfless decision to do what is best for their child — even if it means placing that child with someone else.
What are the Responsibilities of a Father in Adoption?
The responsibilities of a father in an adoption are important. This process is long and complicated; it can be very difficult and emotionally draining for both you and your baby’s mother.
That’s why, as the father, you can play a vital role by supporting your partner while she goes through her unplanned pregnancy. This support can be emotional and practical. Be there for her when she needs you, and help in practical ways in accordance with the guidance of your adoption specialist.
Supporting the prospective birth mother may be the most important responsibility of any birth father in the adoption process. However, regardless of your current relationship with the birth mother, you can also be involved in the adoption plan in other ways.
If you are still together or on good terms with your baby’s mother, the two of you can decide together how you want your adoption process to go. You can work together to choose the perfect adoptive parents for your baby, develop a plan for open adoption and more.
Even if you and the prospective birth mother have separated, you can participate in the adoption process to the extent she feels comfortable. You may choose to sign your consent to the adoption and end your participation in the adoption process, but you can also choose to be an active, helpful presence throughout the process and beyond. If the prospective birth mother wants you to stay around for support, you can choose to make a courageous decision and be there with her every step of the way.
How Can a Father Give a Child Up for Adoption?
The adoption process can seem confusing, but you won’t go through it alone. As a father “giving a child up” for adoption, you (and the prospective birth mother) will work with an adoption specialist to create an adoption plan you are both comfortable with and to receive any support you might need as you cope with feelings of grief and loss.
You may also be able to create your own adoption plan if you and the baby’s mother have different needs and preferences for the adoption. For example, the prospective birth mother may want a closed adoption, while you are interested in exchanging pictures and letters with the adoptive family. You can talk to your adoption professional about these preferences, and they can help you create your own plan for post-adoption contact that you are most comfortable with.
Finally, there are situations where prospective birth parents might not agree on the best path forward for an unplanned pregnancy. Often, one parent is interested in adoption, while the other is not. If this is the situation you’re in, you might be wondering, “Can a father put his baby up for adoption without permission of the mother?” The answer, usually, is no. However, questions of consent are complicated, and it is best to speak directly with an adoption specialist or adoption attorney about this.
For many prospective birth fathers, placing a child for adoption is a difficult decision. If you would like to speak to an adoption professional about your feelings, or if you would like to make an adoption plan alongside your child’s mother, request more information here for free and with no obligation.