An uninvolved birth father can create tension and issues...here's how to deal with it
Not all birth fathers are willing to support your choice of adoption. While some may be actively opposed to it, most are just unwilling to get involved. When dad just wants to be left alone, what do you do to protect your choice of adoption?
The failure of a birth father to be involved in the important decisions relating to the pregnancy – namely issues such as parenting and the question of whether to place the child for adoption – can be heartbreaking, especially when there was or is a romantic relationship involved.
In a perfect world, every father would take responsibility for both mom and child, supporting them in the pregnancy and beyond.
At the same time, however, the lack of involvement by a birth father –
- whether due to his own apathy
- or a decision by the mother to protect her interests and that of the child by keeping the father out of the process to the extent legally possible –
may be helpful to the adoption in some ways.
If you’re dealing with an uninvolved father, you need to take some important steps (while avoiding missteps) to facilitate the adoption and protect her future and her child’s future.
How a Birth Father's Lack of Involvement Can Be Helpful
A father of a child has certain parental rights to that child, whether the parents are married or not, but the extent of those rights will depend on whether the father is
- a presumed father
- or an alleged father.
In short, a presumed father in most states is someone who is married to the mother, or has signed a voluntary declaration of paternity and/or is on the birth certificate, or has held himself out as the father and at least tried to step up and act like a dad. A presumed father will have to either give his consent to the adoption, or a court will have to terminate his parental rights over his objections for the adoption to go through.
An alleged father (one who is not married to the mother when the child is conceived or born, or who does not have his name on the birth certificate or hold himself out as the father) usually must still be notified of the adoption but will have less legal rights to stop the adoption process.
Basically, the more the birth father does to act as a father (give you money for the child, come to doctor visits, tell others he’s the father), the more likely he will be able to impede the adoption.
What You Will Need from Him Even If He is Uninvolved
Again, based on whether the father is a presumed father or alleged father, you will need to take some steps to either obtain his waiver of parental rights or, at the least, make him aware of the adoption process.
In either case, obtaining consent from the father to the adoption process is easiest for all parties involved. Many uninvolved fathers are willing to do this to avoid being responsible for paying child support for the child over the next 18 years.
Your adoption attorney can handle this process of reaching out to the birth father on your behalf if you prefer, and can take care of all necessary steps to obtain his consent, or, if necessary, take other legal action to prevent him from objecting to the adoption.
Steps in Protecting Yourself and the Adoption Plan from an Uninvolved Birth Father
- First, you should think twice (and speak to an adoption professional) before having the father’s name put on the child’s birth certificate. Doing so will cause the father to be a presumed father and give him more rights regarding the adoption process.
If you do decide to parent the baby at a later time, you can still take steps to collect child support even if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate.
- Additionally, be careful about involving the father’s family. While an uninvolved father may be happy to consent to the adoption, especially when the upside for him is not having to pay child support, his family members may take action to get involved and cause unnecessary drama and delay for all involved.
- In all cases, speak to your adoption attorney about taking the steps necessary to your particular situation to avoid unwanted issues with the birth father.