birth father rights

What are Birth Father Rights Regarding Child Adoption?

Both the biological mother and the biological father have rights concerning their child. This is the case whether or not the birth father is still involved with the birth mother and even if his name is not on the birth certificate.

There is no adoption situation where the rights of the biological birth father should be ignored. The laws of the state in which the birth mother terminates her rights and the laws of the birth father's state of residence will help define the birth father's rights.

Rights of the Birth Father

If the birth father is actively involved in the adoption, he can make many of the adoption related choices along with the birth mother, including the type of child adoption, such as open or closed child adoption or an agency or private child adoption.

Every U.S. state and territory has a statute providing for the ending (called termination, surrender, or relinquishment) of the parental rights of the birth mother and birth father.

Each state has its own stringent requirements that must be met regarding making this decision. Once the relationship has been ended, the child is legally free to be adopted. will help you to find the requirements of any or all states. You may want to check the laws of the state in which you reside, under the heading of termination, surrender or relinquishment of parental rights.

What about the Legal, Biological or Putative Father Rights?

The legal father of a child is the man a woman is married to even if she has been separated from him.

A putative father, also called the alleged father, is the biological father of a child born out-of-wedlock. The legal father, biological father, or putative father all have rights which must be addressed.

The information below has been adapted from a Child Welfare Information Gateway PDF article entitled The Rights of Presumed (Putative) Fathers.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway article emphasizes the rights of a birth father. This resource provides basic information about a biological or putative father’s rights and putative father registries. It should be noted that, in general, there is a lack of uniformity among States as to the level of protection available to unwed fathers.

Putative Father Registries

In almost all states the putative father is entitled to notice of proceedings to terminate his parental rights and approximately 23 States have statutes authorizing the establishment of putative father registries.

Revocation of Claim

Approximately half of the U.S. States make provisions in their statutes that allow a putative father to revoke or rescind a notice of intent to claim paternity.

Access to Information

Access to information maintained in registries also varies from state to state. Typically, access is limited to the following:

  • Birth mothers
  • Courts
  • Attorneys
  • Licensed adoption agencies
  • Prospective adoptive parents
  • State departments or divisions of social services
  • State offices of child support enforcement
  • Any other person upon a court order for good cause shown
  • Registries of other States.

What about the Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights?

Birth parents who wish to place their children for adoption may voluntarily relinquish their rights or, in some cases, the court may involuntarily end their parental rights. Your adoption agency can assist you with information about the voluntary and involuntary ending of your parental rights.
The following has been adapted from the Child Welfare Information Gateway PDR article entitled Grounds for the Involuntary termination of Parental Rights.

When addressing whether parental rights should be terminated involuntarily, most States require that a court:

  • Determine a parent to be unfit through one or more grounds for termination of the parental relationship
  • Determine whether severing the parent-child relationship will be in the child's best interest
  • A felony conviction of the parent(s) for a crime of violence against the child or another family member, or a conviction for any felony when the term of incarceration is such a length of time as to have a negative impact on the child
  • Severe or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Abandonment
  • Long-term mental illness or deficiency of the parent(s)
  • Long-term alcohol- or drug- Induced incapacity of the parent(s)
  • Failure to support or maintain contact with the child
  • A child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months
  • A child to be an abandoned infant
  • Involuntary termination of rights of the parent to another child

What are the Birth Mother’s Rights?

For information about Birth Mother Rights click on this link.

What if you Need Help?

For more information about the rights of the legal, biological or putative father's rights, please contact us at Adoption Services so that we can help you. Please visit the link "Ways we can help you".

Can your Agency Help a Birth Parent Living in Any State?

We are licensed in multiple states and are able to help a birth mother, birth father, and adopting family living in any of the 50 U.S. states and even U.S. citizens (birth parents and families) that are living in other countries.