The adoption law and process can be complex, and the process can be emotional. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 set forth guidelines to follow for adoption to get completed.
The guidelines include the need for the birth father to be properly notified of the adoption proceedings. He should also have the opportunity to consent to the adoption.
However, it is possible to adopt a child without the birth father’s consent in some cases. For example, if the father of the child is not in the child’s life.
So, if you are considering adoption, it is vital to consult an experienced Adoption & Guardianship Lawyer about the legal process. They will also ensure that all of the critical steps get done correctly.
In this article, you’ll learn about the scenarios where the birth father’s consent is not needed for adoption. Keep reading.
Different Categories of Potential Biological Fathers and their Rights
There are various potential biological fathers that one needs to consider during the adoption process. Below are some of them.
The Married or Assumed-to-be Fathers
Generally, the law presumes that the birth mother’s spouse is the child’s birth father. As such, for an adoption to continue, the supposed birth father may need to approve it. Although, in some scenarios, he may sign a waiver of paternity.
Also, the birth mother may sign an affidavit stating that she had no sexual relations with her husband to conceive. But that is, if they ever get divorced and if it was obvious that he was not the father.
If there is a biological father, he should be granted the right to notice the adoption. He will also have the right to consent or oppose the adoption.
The Adjudicated Fathers
A man gets named an adjudicated father if a court has determined that he is the biological father of a child using DNA testing or other evidence.
As a result, he has the right to get notified of the adoption. He will also have the choice to agree or object to it.
The Putative Fathers
This is the most common category of fathers found during the adoption process. A putative father isn’t legally recognized as the father since he isn’t married to the biological mother.
This category of fathers is also not mentioned in any official document. Therefore, they are also not adjudicated by the court to be the child’s father.
The reason why putative fathers are common is that most mothers don’t know who the father of their child is. As a result, it raises the possibility of uncertainty.
For this reason, they get the lowest parental rights during the adoption process. But if there is a putative registry and the father registers with it, he will have his full legal right.
With the registry, some states may notify him of the adoption. In some states, he will have full rights. He will get the notice of adoption and the right to agree or object.
If he takes paternity actions like running a DNA paternity test. Then, the court may consider him an adjudicated father.
Finally, if, as a father, you fall into any of the above categories and you want to participate in the adoption process, you will need a lawyer.
The lawyer must be an adoption & guardianship lawyer. The reason is that they are the lawyers who can help you do the right things to safeguard your legal rights as a father.
Scenarios Where You Can Adopt the Child Without the Biological Father’s Consent
Most mothers and stepfathers tend to ask if it is possible to adopt a child without the birth father’s consent. Well, the answer is yes.
However, it is only possible during specific scenarios. And below are some of these scenarios.
Here is an option for the adopting parents to adopt the child without the birth father’s consent. Then, they only need to wait until the child is 18 before starting the adult adoption process.
This is a good scenario since adult adoptions do not need the birth father’s approval. Instead, they emphasize the adoption with the legal adult child’s permission.
This method offers at least a different path to reach the same goal of a finalized adoption. But it may be stressful if the child is several years away from turning 18.
If the child’s birth father has any criminal records, and the facts show that he cannot take care of his child, his parental rights get revoked.
As a result, his right to consent gets taken away, leading to an adoption process without his consent.
A court considers many factors when deciding whether abandonment has taken place. These often include;
- The prompt payment of child support
- The visitation rights.
- The amount of time the child spends with the birth father.
- The birth father’s communication with the child and so on.
Each state has different time frames during which they consider parental abandonment. States such as Texas have a three-month or more time frame. Some other states need at least a year for a kid to be in the custody of only their birth mother.
With such abandonment from the child’s birth father, his legal right as a parent gets revoked. And during an adoption process, his consent is not needed.
The Importance of Consent in Adoption
Given the severe legal ramifications of adoption, consent is vital. The reason is that it ensures that there are no questions or areas of legal uncertainty regarding the decision to place a child for adoption.
When the adoption process is over, birth parents possess no parental right over that child after giving their consent.
So, before agreeing to adoption, all parties involved must be aware of this.
Also, whenever you are ready to adopt a child, ensure the given consent is on a written document. And before the consent gets granted, ensure an adoption lawyer explains to the child what adoption entails and how it will affect them. But this will solely depend on how old the child is.
Finally, ensure that the identity of the adoption lawyer that explained the process to the child is on the affidavit of consent. Once that is ready, the adoption lawyer will submit the affidavit and the adoption application.
With everything discussed above, you can see that it is possible to adopt a child without the birth father’s consent. The father’s rights can get terminated if he has criminal records, is abusive, or has abandoned the child.
On that note, it is vital to consult an expert adoption lawyer who knows the adoption law in and out. They can also help you determine what consent needs may exist in your particular case.