Can I place my baby for adoption without the father’s consent? Is adoption possible without knowing who the father is? What if I want to place my baby for adoption, but the father doesn’t?
These are common questions for many pregnant women considering adoption. If you are considering adoption for your baby, some of your first concerns may be regarding the birth father, his role and rights in the adoption process and the impact he might have on the adoption plan.
Whether you are working with a supportive, unsupportive, unknown or uninvolved birth father, adoption can still be an option for you. It is recommended that you contact an adoption agency or adoption attorney to see whether your adoption process can still move forward with or without his involvement.
Uninvolved Birth Fathers
Adoption can be possible in a variety of situations where the father of the baby is unsupportive of your adoption plan. Here are some common scenarios where it may be possible for you to place your baby for adoption without the father’s consent:
I want to pursue adoption, but the baby’s father does not
Often due to fear or uncertainty, the birth father can be unsupportive of an expectant mother’s adoption plan. In these cases, the father may need to demonstrate his desire to provide support and take custody of the child in order to retain his parental rights.
The father is in and out of my life
Many women choose adoption so that their child can be raised in a stable, two-parent household. If the baby’s father has a habit of coming and going in your life, his sporadic behavior may not change upon the baby’s arrival. If you determine that adoption is the best choice for your baby in this scenario, your adoption attorney will work with you and the father to discuss his rights and attempt to continue the adoption plan with or without his consent.
The father is in jail
If the father of your baby is in jail but is supportive of the adoption, he can still play a role in the adoption process. Post-placement, he will still have the opportunity to receive pictures and letters of the child, if he so desires. If he is unsupportive of the adoption, your adoption professional can explain the rights of incarcerated birth fathers and how his incarceration might impact the adoption process according to your state’s laws.
The father is abusive
Abusive relationships have serious, lasting physical and psychological effects. Pregnant women who choose adoption can receive counseling and support from their adoption agency before, during and after the adoption process. Your adoption professional can offer assistance and access to additional resources to help you remove yourself from the abusive relationship. In some states, in instances of abuse or rape, the father’s consent will not be required for an adoption to proceed. Explain your situation to your adoption specialist or adoption attorney, and he or she will be able to coordinate any necessary communication with the father on your behalf.
The father wants me to get an abortion
Your baby’s future is ultimately your decision. Abortion is commonly misconstrued as an easy solution to an unplanned pregnancy, but it is actually a big decision that can have lasting emotional and physical effects. If the father of your child is trying to convince you to abort the baby, suggest that the two of you speak with an adoption professional to learn more about adoption. Remember that it is your choice, and no one can force you into making a decision you don’t believe is right, including the father of the baby.
I don’t know who or where the father is
For any number of reasons, many women considering adoption are unsure who or where the baby’s birth father is. As long as all efforts are made to find the birth father, you may be able to pursue an adoption plan without his consent. In some states, fathers must register with the Putative Father Registry to protect their paternal rights. If your baby’s father does not sign up with the registry, has not financially supported you during your pregnancy or has not otherwise legally established his paternity to the child, an adoption attorney may not be required to notify him of the adoption.
Uncertainty and fear often factor into a birth father’s lack of support for an adoption plan — the father might not understand the adoption process or his rights in that process. Adoption professionals can educate your child’s biological father about the process and help him create an adoption plan if and when he is ready.
If you are interested in pursuing an adoption plan and find yourself in a scenario similar to these, contact an adoption professional to discuss your options for moving forward.
Married Couples and Supportive Birth Fathers
In some situations, the birth father is supportive of the adoption plan and can act as the birth mother’s partner and support system in the adoption process, whether they are married, in a committed relationship or friendship, or he’s out of the picture but has approved of the mother’s adoption decision.
In these scenarios, having the birth father’s support throughout the adoption process can help you as you work through your emotions and can simplify the legal proceedings of the adoption.
The father is supportive, but not involved
You do not need to be in a relationship with the birth father for him to express his support and approval of your adoption decision. If your baby’s father fits into this category, let him know you appreciate his support and embrace the opportunity to work together through the adoption process. He can be as active or as uninvolved in the adoption process as he chooses. If you and the birth father have different desires regarding contact with the adoptive family, you can choose to create your own individual adoption plans, which may include different levels of contact with the adoptive family your child is placed with.
We are a married couple placing our child for adoption
Unplanned pregnancies are not limited to single women or unmarried couples. Sometimes a married couple facing an unplanned pregnancy is not emotionally or financially prepared to add a child to their family, and may choose to place the baby for adoption. Married couples that choose adoption should work with their adoption professional to develop an adoption plan together. You will receive the same services and benefits available to single birth mothers.
Do I Have to Tell the Birth Father About My Adoption Plan?
There are many reasons why you might be nervous or hesitant to talk to your baby’s birth father about your pregnancy and your plans to place the child for adoption. You should talk with your adoption specialist or an adoption attorney to determine what the father needs to know in your specific situation and in accordance with your state’s laws. In general, you should keep these three items in mind:
- In many states, the expectant mother is not required to advise a man of her pregnancy, but the some state laws do prohibit you from lying to the father of your baby about your pregnancy or the baby’s expected due date. This means that you must answer truthfully if the birth father asks you whether you are pregnant and when the baby is due, or you must ask your adoption professional to tell him the truth on your behalf.
- If the father is aware of your pregnancy and adoption plan, you may be entitled to financial support from him during the pregnancy. Speak with your adoption specialist or adoption attorney about putative father laws in your state. If the birth father offers you financial support, talk to your adoption specialist. State laws vary in how this may affect the adoption process.
- In every adoption, the birth father has to relinquish his rights before the adoption can legally be finalized. However, if the birth father does not want to participate in the adoption or is not supportive, he does not need to be included in the adoption plan.
If you are apprehensive about raising the topic of adoption with your baby’s father, your adoption professional can help advise you on how to talk with the birth father about your adoption plan, and may be able to mediate your communication or contact him for you.
How Should I Inform the Father of My Adoption Plan?
When you are ready to talk to the birth father about placing the child for adoption, you have several options for how to approach the topic. Here are three ways to tell him:
- If possible, tell him in person or by phone – This is usually the best way to deliver any big news and will allow you to be sensitive when you inform him and answer any questions he may have about the process.
- Write a detailed letter or email – Depending on your situation, it might be necessary to explain your adoption plan in a letter or email. It is important that you put thought into the words you use and carefully explain why you are choosing adoption and what the next steps of the process are. Take your time with your letter or email so your thoughts are accurately conveyed.
- Have your adoption specialist or attorney speak to the birth father on your behalf – If your state laws allow it, your adoption professional may be able to contact the birth father for you. He or she can talk to the birth father about your adoption plan, his rights and responsibilities in the process, and his option to create his own adoption plan.
However you decide to inform the father of your baby of your adoption plan, it can be an emotional time for both of you. To help you through the conversation, you may want to follow these tips as you discuss adoption in person or in writing:
- If you have the opportunity to talk to him in person, find a private, quiet place free of distractions.
- Be as honest and descriptive as possible. Focus on the positives of adoption, explain the reasons why you think adoption is the best option for both of you and your baby, and describe the type of life you hope your child will have with an adoptive family.
- Avoid arguing. Do your best to remain calm, give him an opportunity to respond, and listen to his thoughts, questions and concerns.
- If you want him to be involved in the adoption process, let him know. Invite him to be as involved as you are comfortable with — helping to choose the adoptive family, accompanying you to the hospital or participating in pre-placement phone calls and visits with the adoptive parents, for example.
- Suggest that the two of you meet with an adoption professional to get more information about the adoption process. If he is upset or unsupportive of your adoption plan, an adoption specialist may be able to help educate him about adoption and give him the resources and support he needs.
Remember that the laws regarding birth father rights vary from state to state, and these laws may affect your adoption plan. Your adoption specialist or attorney is committed to helping you pursue your adoption plan, and you should work with them to discuss your options and any impact the father may have on the adoption.