Biological Fathers' Rights

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Lack of attention to biological fathers' rights can have serious consequences, a lesson courts are handing down with more and more frequency. While the Baby Sam case filled the headlines for several years, this certainly wasn't the first case where a father's rights have landed on the front page.

The Baby M Case

In 1996, Baby M was relinquished by her mother and placed with Darrell and Cindy Matthews. Alphonso Andrews, the baby's father, never signed any consent forms and contested the placement. A Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruling sent a message to adoption agencies and attorneys about failure to get consent from both birth parents. Genesis of Pittsburgh, Inc. failed to get Andrews' approval for the placement and, as a result, custody of Baby M is being decided four years - instead of a matter of days or weeks - after placement, a bittersweet victory for Andrews and a devastating one for the Matthews.

Arguments in the case included comparisons of Andrews' and the Matthews' education and financial stability, which caused one lower court judge to rule initially in favor of the Matthews; however, the higher court found that neither the agency nor the Matthews had proper authority to assume the role of parent. A baby cannot be adopted without the termination or relinquishment of both parents' rights, and Andrews' rights were alive and well.

Andrews is quoted as saying, "They said it was for the best interest of the child. But that is not their child. It is mine. I can't help it that they are unable to have children. That doesn't give them the right to take mine."

Biological Fathers Do Have Rights

A woman making an adoption plan may conceal the pregnancy from the biological father or indicate that the father has no interest in the child when this may not be the case. Unless the father learns of the pregnancy and/or the adoption plan and moves to stop it, the adoption will proceed. While most fathers either agree to an adoption plan or do not contest termination of their parental rights, there are those who want to parent their children, and some are exercising that right.

In September, 1999, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Joseph Ferguson, giving him custody of the son he learned about only two days before the adoption agency moved to terminate his parental rights. The baby's mother had never told Ferguson about the pregnancy and placement had been made with a family in another state.

Like Alphonso Andrews in Pennsylvania, Ferguson sympathizes with the couple who planned to adopt his son saying, "I believe they entered the adoption process in good faith, and it's unfortunate that it had to come to this."

Putative Father Registries

If you think you are the father of a child and you want to have a say in whether the child is adopted, you can register with the Putative Father Registry if your state has one, or take other measures to protect your rights. Even if you signed the child's birth certificate and are under 18 or 21 years of age (depending on the state), you can register to make the best effort to protect your rights.
A 'putative father' is a man who may be a child's father, but who was not married to the child's mother before the child was born and has not established the fact that he is the father in a court proceeding. If the child's mother wants to place the child for adoption, the putative father must take steps to show that he is the legal father of the child if he wants to have any say in the adoption. By registering with the Putative Father Registry, a father takes one step toward proving he is the child's father.
(State of Illinois)
However, along with those rights come responsibilities. These can include medical expenses during the pregnancy and support payments. Know your rights and responsibilites. If you do want to register on a putative father registry or sign some other form of paternity recognition form, be sure that you understand how this will affect your future right to parent or obtain custody, as well as the financial responsibilities.

Risk in Adoption

Many states have provisions for a period of time during which a birth parent may change his/her mind about placement after signing relinquishment papers. In those states, agencies and attorneys are obligated to advise adopting parents that this could occur; however in all cases and all states, it is important that agencies and attorneys make every effort to meet with both biological parents to secure proper consent. Cutting corners only increases the risk that the placement will be challenged or overturned.

Adopting parents must also take responsibility for asking the right questions and making sure everyone's rights are being protected. They should know what their state considers grounds for reversal of an adoption (such as coercion) and become proactive in the process of ensuring their adoption is being handled ethically and according to best practices. When adopting parents, in the excitement of seeing their family dreams become a reality, don't ask the hard questions, they could face the enormous heartbreak of reversal of the placement.

Adopting parents: Ask the tough questions. Hold your agency or attorney accountable. Knowing that the placement meets all legal requirements is an important beginning for your new family.

Biological parents: Know your rights, and understand the importance of openness and honesty in making your adoption plan. If parenting is an option for one, that needs to be explored before placement is considered.

It cannot be said often enough: Knowledge empowers! When adopting parents are comfortable with the legalities of birth parent consent, they can focus their energies on parenting. And when biological parents make informed decisions, the best interest of the child will be better served. Both sets of parents must do their best - even in this time of roller-coaster emotions, to ensure ethical and legal practices are observed. Knowledge makes it possible.

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Visitor Comments (72)
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Nikki rose - 14 hours ago
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linda - 16 hours ago
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john mary - 3 days ago
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rose - 1 week ago
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alisa - 1 week ago
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kath - 2 weeks ago
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bright3000 - 2 weeks ago
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patricia - 2 weeks ago
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Casandra - 2 weeks ago
He was the best thing that ever happened to me. The only problem we had was cus he is from a rich family. i met him when he came to the coffee shop i work and it was like a dream come through cus for me things like that only happen in fairy tales. cant go into details because the story is just too long. he loved me and wanted to marry me but his parent were against that because of my poor background. they kicked against it most especially the mother, she felt i was a gold digger, all i wanted was just love. it got to a point i could not take it any more he wanted to relocate with me and get married to me secretly but knew he would not be fulfield that was how i started to look for solution online. behold i meet dr igodo and the whole story changed. his spell worked so fast that the parent suddenly changed their stands and told their son i am the best for him and that they were only testing our love. i am so happy to tell the world that our wedding invite is out and i will be getting m #13
bright3000 - 3 weeks ago
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nguyen - 3 weeks ago
I want to say thanks to this great man called Dr Samura who helped me in my marriage life. my name is Nguyen lives in USA Memphis so i was married to Albert we both love and like each other before our marriage, he care about my well being so i was so happy that i have found a man like this in my life my parents love him so much because of his kindness towards me and the way he care about me after four years in my marriage, no child he was not showing me much care anymore but i notice something is going on which i no. then i keep on with the relationship and i was hoping one day God will open my way to have a child in my home then i keep on going to church from one play to another by telling all the pastors about my problems that i don't have a child so many of them promise me that soon i we have a child in my home i keep on hoping in God's miracle on till one day when i went for a visit in my friend office then i was welcome by my friend we started dis causing about so many things on #15
Selina - 3 weeks ago
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Hello everybody, My name is Selina. I'm from United State. I am happy given this testimony on this forum on how DR.IYARE the greatest of all spell casters helped me to restored my son on drug addiction and getting my husband back to me. every night he comes back drunk,it became a big problem to the extent that my husband abandoned me and our son. every night I cried seeking for Gods will, until a friend of mine introduced me to a spell caster,she introduced me to DR.IYARE. so i contacted him through his website my friend gave to me http://iyareyarespellstemple.webs.com/ .He told me not to worry that everything will be back to normal in 2days. to my own surprise. a day later my sons attitude changed he quit drugs and drinking,,and my husband came back home to me and our the third day pleading for forgiveness. Today we are living happily together as a happy family now.All thanks to Dr Iyare for helping me. May you live long sir. Should in case anybody need his help you can contact him o #16
Joyne Harvey - 3 weeks ago
My name is joyne harvey from United State . i want to share to the whole world on how Dr Suru help me to got my ex lover back and saved my marriage.because i really love him so much that i can not even do without,and him left me 3year ago and he was leaving with another woman who is 8 years older than him,i feel like my life is completely over. I read over the internet how a spell caster have help several people to get there love back. I have been depress for the past one month and what i need is to get him back and live with him happily. so i decided to give it a try so i contacted the spell caster called Dr.Suru and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell which i use to get my ex lover back and now my life is complete and both of us are very happy with the relationship. and i am throughly grateful to this man,his contact email is xxxx No problem is too big for him to solve.. i am grateful for you restore my life back to me.lordsuruspelltemple@yah #17
mathia - 3 weeks ago
How I got Pregnant by the help of Dr Egwonga Who can believe that the woman that lost are womb can get pregnant,this man you are great you are wonderful,i want to say a big thanks to Dr Egwonga for the wonderful thing he did in my life i never believe that i will have a baby of my own,for more them 17years of marriage i was not able to get pregnant but when my mother told me about this great man that have been helping people ,i called him and told him my problem he told me that if i have faith that i will get pregnant i told him yes he told me what i need to do which i did and in 2014 i had my first child and now i am pregnant for the second time all thanks to Dr Egwonga, I'm happy with my family so if you need his help email him ; xxxx OR call him xxxxx662 #18
joelsandra - 3 weeks ago
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Hello viewer's , i want to share with you of a great spell caster who help me cast a spell on my ex boy friend who used me and dumped me for my girl friend, so when i met this great spell caster called Dr Aza, i explain what i was passing through. So he gave me instruction to follow, which i did, after three day's when the spell was cast, my ex boy friend called and started apologizing to me and said he want me back.You can also contact him if you have any problem via mail: xxxx or call his agent via cell number: xxxxx060, to help you with your problem. #19
jerty - 17 hours ago
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