Picture this: ‘You have adopted a child, whose mother due to her own reasons put him or her, up for adoption. The child is happy with you and so are you! Your family is now complete and you are just thanking the Almighty for the gift of this new member in your life, when – the phone rings! You answer it and are shocked to hear from someone, who introduces himself as your adopted child’s birth father. He claims that, he was not aware of the adoption and now, wants his child back!’
“Surely, this guy doesn’t have any such rights?” Is the first thought that comes to your mind! Well, think again. Legally, the birth father of an adopted child does have equal rights as his/her birth mother! And many birth fathers do go to great lengths to assert their rights, once they become aware, that their child has been adopted without their knowledge and consent.
Birth Fathers Challenge Laws to Assert Their Rights
So, how far can a birth father go in this regard? You may ask. Apparently very far, as the Fox News report dated 13th February 2014 highlights. It narrates how twelve men in Utah, have joined forces to challenge an adoption law in the federal court. ‘The law they are up-in-arms against, is one, which allows mothers to put their babies up for adoption without the biological father’s consent, or sometimes even without their knowledge,’ the report informs.
“The civil rights lawsuit claims the Utah Adoption Act has resulted in what amounts to “legalized fraud and kidnapping,” it states. Quoting the observations made in 2009 in this regard, by the Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, the story states: “Utah risks becoming a magnet for those seeking to unfairly cut off opportunities for biological fathers to assert their rights to connection with their children … not every unmarried biological father is indifferent to or unworthy of such connections,”
Why Children Are Given-Up for Adoption without the Birth Father’s Knowledge
And, while many sympathize with birth fathers and support their fight to reclaim custody of their children – put up for adoption without their consent; there is apparently another side to this story as well! Startling as it may sound, where a child is put up for adoption, despite the fact that both biological parents are alive, it is usually a case of desperation rather than choice.
Those in-the- know of things, say that in many situations, the birth father plays no more than a sperm donor’s role. It is not unusual to hear, how after getting a woman pregnant the birth father of the child, simply disappears during and after it; reappearing according to his own whims and fancies. Most such men are also reportedly abusive, alcoholic, substance abusers, unemployed, anti-socials or suffer from mental disorders.
Often such women are left without any support-social or financial. They are expected by these men to fend for the child, all by themselves. It is this indifferent, uncaring, and irresponsible attitude of birth fathers, which prompts many to give- up their child for adoption. In doing so, they hope that their child will be brought up in a better home and by a better mother and father. The reason why, so many women keep the adoption issue a secret, is because, they fear that the birth father will stall the process. Harassment, bullying, intimidation and profiting monetarily from the situation, from birth fathers, are their top concerns.
Birth Fathers Rights Over a Child Needs to be Acknowledge From the Start
While no generalizations can be really be made and every case differs from the other; what must not be missed out, is the fact that, birth fathers do have their rights! Unlike Utah, elsewhere in the US -the state and legal courts do recognize a birth father’s right, to have knowledge of and consent to the adoption of his child, provided of course, his paternity has been established!
So, the lesson to be learnt from this discussion is, that if you are going in for adoption, make sure you actively communicate not only with the birth mother and the adoption agency, but also with the birth father of the child you wish to adopt! “Excluding birth fathers from the adoption process, subjects adoptive parents to serious legal and emotional risks,” cautions Erik. L.Smith, a certified paralegal in Columbus, Ohio, who has extensively written on adoption.
This article was written by Helen Philips an adoption specialist, who counsels and educates both couples and adopted children.