Pursuing Adoption When the Father is Unknown
Can I place my child for adoption without the father’s consent? What if the father is unknown? How will this affect my adoption plan?
These are common questions that we hear from expectant mothers who are considering adoption. Depending on the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, a woman may have a supportive birth father, an unknown birth father, or a birth father who lies somewhere in the middle. Regardless of your relationship with your child’s birth father, Adoption Answers can still help you pursue an adoption plan for your child.
When the Father is Unknown
If you are unsure who or where the father is, adoption can still be an option for you. In order for you to place a child for adoption without the father’s consent, every attempt must be made to contact or locate the father before the adoption can proceed.
In the state of Texas, a man is only assumed to be a child’s father if he is married to the child’s mother. If a man is unwed, he must assert his paternity before it is recognized by law. To do this, he must first register with the Putative Father Registry, which will ensure that he is informed of any adoption proceedings involving his possible child.
Your adoption professional will likely ask you for any known information about the father so he or she can attempt to reach him via the Registry. If the father cannot be found or does not respond to this contact in a timely manner, his rights will be terminated and the adoption can proceed as normal.
It is important that you remain entirely truthful with your adoption professional about the location and/or identity of the child’s father. Withholding any information at this point could put the adoption in jeopardy.
When the Father is Uninvolved
When the father is uninvolved in the pregnancy, and has not expressed a desire to be involved in the adoption plan, your adoption professional will likely attempt to get his consents before proceeding. If he does not give consent at this time, he has 31 days after the child is born to assert his paternity via the Putative Father Registry, after which, his parental rights will be terminated. The adoption may still proceed during this period, but the prospective adoptive family will need to be informed that the father still has time to assert his rights.
When the Father is Unsupportive
In the event that your child’s father is unsupportive of the adoption and would like to parent the child on his own, he must first demonstrate his desire and ability to provide care to the child. If the father is deemed unfit to parent due to abuse allegations, mental instabilities, or incarceration, his parental rights will likely be terminated by the court allowing the adoption to move forward.
When the Father is Supportive
Whether you’re married, in a relationship, or no longer together, if your child’s father is supportive of your adoption plan, the adoption can continue without any additional requirements. Together, the two of you can choose adoptive parents for you child and determine what level of contact you would like to maintain with your child and his or her adoptive parents.
Once the child is born, both you and the father will sign consent paperwork that will allow the adoption to take place. According to Texas law, these consents cannot be signed until 48 hours after the birth.