Birth Father Rights: “Can I give a baby up for adoption without the father’s consent?”

Many mothers wonder if they can give a baby up for adoption without the father’s consent.  Frequently, the answer  is yes.  The laws governing birth father rights vary from state to state. It will also depend if the father is an alleged (also called putative) father or if he is a legal father.  This article is a general overview of different types of fathers and when you need this consent to an adoption.

Whatever your situation, we have the legal tools to help (get started on an adoption plan). Here are some situations where birth mothers worry that they can’t do an adoption because of the baby’s father. We can help even if:

  • You aren’t sure who the baby’s father is
  • You aren’t sure what his name is or where he lives
  • Your baby’s father is in jail
  • Your baby’s father refuses to cooperate with the adoption
  • You are married and your spouse is not the baby’s father

Alleged or putative fathers generally don’t have to consent to the adoption

An alleged or putative father is a man who is not a legal father.  Usually, an alleged father is a boyfriend or one night stand situation. He can also be a roommate or friend with benefits.  These men have limited rights in an adoption.  Usually, they have a right to notice of the adoption plan. They can either sign paperwork or not.  You don’t have to be in contact with the father.  We will handle everything for you.

Some states use the term putative father to describe a man who is not a legal father.  There are 13 states that acknowledge the term putative father in their statutes and 25 states have actually established Putative Father Registries.  If a man registers with the putative father registry in his state, he is entitled to notices of adoption proceedings, petitions to terminate parental rights and petitions for adoptions.

A legal father usually must consent to an adoption

Interestingly, the definition of “father” or “parent” varies from state to state. In most states, a legal father fits one of the following criteria:

(1)the man and the child’s mother are married when the child was born or the child was born no more than 300 days after the end of the marriage,

(2) the birth father’s name is on the birth certificate, or

(3) the man has acknowledged that he is the father in writing. If the birth father has not met one of these criteria, it is important to realize that he may still have parental rights if he has established himself as a putative father.  I explain this in the next section.

If the father of your baby fits any of these criteria, his consent to the adoption is probably required.  There are always exceptions, however, and every case is different.  If the legal father won’t consent to the adoption, there may be other ways to terminate his rights.  You might still be able to give your baby up for adoption without the father’s consent.  Feel free to contact me using one of the contact options on this page, and I’m happy to answer your questions.