While infant adoption places a lot of emphasis on the pregnant woman involved, the baby’s birth father is just as important in the adoption process. Because his consent may or may not be necessary for the adoption to be completed, it’s important to consider him in any discussion you have about adoption, whether you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption, a prospective adoptive family or the birth father himself.
Whether you’re wondering how to adopt without the father’s consent in North Carolina or you’re simply interested in birth father rights in adoption, Herring & Mills can help you understand the legalities involved. As some of the most experienced adoption lawyers in the state, we’ve worked with many different cases regarding birth fathers in adoption — and we can help with whatever your adoption situation entails.
To discuss your individual situation with us, you can call us anytime at 919-821-1860 or contact us online. Until then, here are some important things you should know about adopting or giving a baby up for adoption without a father’s consent.
Does the Birth Father Have to Agree to Adoption?
Every potential father has the right to receive notice that a child that he may have fathered is going to be placed for adoption. Notice means just that: He is provided notice that he has been named as a possible father and that the mother intends to place or has placed the child for adoption.
In general, if a man is married to a pregnant woman at the time of either conception or birth or between conception and birth, his name will be entered on the birth certificate as the child’s father — and his consent to the adoption will likely be needed.
Unlike a husband or legal father, however, an unwed biological father’s right to receive notice does not mean that his consent is required in order for the adoption to proceed. A man who fathers a child out of wedlock must take affirmative steps to show his commitment to establishing a parent-child relationship before the law recognizes his right to prevent an adoption by withholding his consent.
After he is served with notice of adoption proceedings, a father will have to assert a claim of paternity within a certain timeframe. If he fails to respond, the court will most likely enter an order that his consent is not required for adoption. If he does respond, his consent may still not be needed — but this is on a case-by-case basis dependent upon your own situation. An attorney working with a woman in an adoption situation will need a lot of information about what the biological father has done since she became pregnant.
What if the Mother Wants to Give a Baby Up for Adoption But the Father Does Not?
There are several reasons that a pregnant woman may want to pursue a baby adoption without the father’s consent. Usually, these reasons can fall into three categories: the birth father is unknown, uninterested or unsupportive.
Remember, the consent required in each case may vary based on the individual situation. It’s best to consult with Herring & Mills to find out if the birth father will have to give consent for your adoption proceedings, as birth father adoption laws in North Carolina can be complicated.
- When the birth father is unknown: If a prospective birth mother does not know the identity of the baby’s father, a court may be able to proceed with an adoption without him. However, we will likely have to work with an investigator or provide notice by publication in a newspaper to help identify him before we can proceed with an unknown father adoption — as North Carolina law requires that he be notified of any adoption proceedings.
- When the birth father is uninterested: Sometimes, when a pregnant woman notifies her baby’s father of her pregnancy, he leaves the decision up to her and prefers to stay out of the adoption proceedings. Whether or not he will have to give his consent will vary based on the individual situation, but if a birth father in uninterested in his baby’s future adoption (and does not respond to the adoption notice), it may be possible to terminate his parental rights without his consent.
- When a birth father is unsupportive: Other times, a father will make it clear that he does not agree with an adoption plan — and may try to stop the adoption process. In these cases, experienced legal counsel is incredibly important. Whether it’s a prospective birth father or mother coming to us with questions about adoption consent, we can help them understand their own legal rights in North Carolina and what steps they may need to take.
Often, a father may not agree with an adoption decision because he’s unaware of the modern realities of adoption and how it may be the best choice for his child. A father also may not understand that by asserting his parental rights, he will be responsible for typical parental duties, including the possibility of paying child support. At Herring & Mills, we can help explain this to him by educating him about the adoption process and letting him know that he can be involved in the process and stay informed about the child over the years through an open adoption.
If need be, it may be possible to proceed with an adoption without a father or with limited contact from him. If you’re a pregnant woman feeling threatened by an unsupportive father, we recommend you call us right away at 919-821-1860. We can direct you to local resources that can help you escape your abusive situation. Domestic violence is never acceptable.
When the Birth Father Wants to Be Involved
As many cases as there are regarding adoption without the parental consent of the father, there are also many cases in which the birth father supports the adoption decision and wants to be involved in the process. At Herring & Mills, we can help both him and the pregnant mother understand the adoption process and how to best transfer their parental rights to the adoptive parents when the time comes. We may even help form arrangements for postadoption contact between them and the adoptive parents. It’s definitely possible that when a woman is not able to parent, there are families that can parent the child in a way that will keep both birth parents connected to their child.
Whether you’re a pregnant woman, a father or a prospective adoptive family, if you have questions about birth father rights in N.C. adoptions, feel free to call us anytime at 919-821-1860 or contact us online. We can begin the legal process of your adoption whenever you’re ready.