I'm a Birth Father: What does that Mean?

A birth father is the biological father of a child who has been or will be adopted; understanding your rights and how they apply to the adoption process is just as important for you, as it is for the birth mother of the child.

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As a birth father you’re just like every other biological father, only the term ‘birth father’ is used to refer to a man who’s child is being or has been placed with an adoptive family. It is just as important for you to understand your rights and how they apply to the adoption process as it is for the birth mother of the child.

Birth fathers…

  • are the biological fathers of their child or children,
  • do not pay child support,
  • may be married to the mother of the child, married to another, divorced, or unmarried,
  • may or may not have surrendered their parental rights,
  • may or may not live in the same area as their child’s adoptive family.

If you are finding out ‘after the fact’ that your child has been placed with an adoptive family, unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Many birth fathers find themselves excluded from the decision making process of adoption for many reasons. Often a birth father won’t be involved in choosing or meeting the adoptive parents, working with an adoption professional, or the birth of the baby because the birth father wasn’t able to be found, or because no attempt was made to locate and notify him.

If an adoption agency or other adoption professional is legitimate, they will make an attempt to locate the father of the child and make them aware of the adoption and their rights as fathers before proceeding with an adoption, but in some cases, an adoption still takes place without the birth father’s knowledge or consent.

If you feel you need to speak to an adoption attorney or adoption professional about your rights as a birth father, please see our directory of professional services.

If you are married to the mother of your child at the time of birth, you are considered the child’s legal father. If you are not married, you are considered a ‘putative father.’ Putative Fathers have to work harder to make the courts recognize them as the biological father of their child or children, and in some states they have to register with the Putative Father Registry to assert any parental rights. Birth fathers may petition to get custody of their biological children if their parental rights were not surrendered before the adoption took place, and feel the child should be in their custody. These cases are called‘contested adoption.’

Biological father, genetic father, putative father, birth father—but what does all this mean, really?

It means that you created life. According to a recent CDC (Center for Disease Control) study, there were 1.5 million couples in the United States in 2012 that were unable to get pregnant. Whether you intended to or not, you may have given someone else who cannot have their own biological children an important chance to know parenthood.

Would you like to learn more about the rights of unmarried fathers, or get a detailed explanation of the rights for unmarried fathers in your state? Are you looking for information on adoption consent laws or parental right termination laws?

DOWNLOAD the full “Pregnancy & Adoption Planning Guide” here

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