Birth fathers have traditionally been underrepresented and devalued in the adoption world. However, with the realization of this disparity, laws are ever changing to make sure that ample opportunity is given for a father to either consent to an adoption or choose to parent if he so wishes. In the adoption process, there are typically a few steps that need to be taken to make sure a birth father is given opportunity to assert his rights, though some feel that the attempt is not always enough.
In most states, adoptions require that the birth father’s consent be given if possible. If the birth mother does not know or claims to not know who the birth father is or where he is, it is typically required that an advertisement be placed in the local paper asking for the father to come forward. It is usually required that this ad run for 30 days.
If the ad remains unanswered, a father’s rights may be terminated. If the ad is answered, a father typically has to prove his fitness to parent. Herein lies a large argument of those who feel that birth fathers to do have equal rights. A birth mother simply has to assert her right to parent if she decides not to place her child. She is not required to prove her fitness as a parent or fight for her child.
Even if the birth father knows about the pregnancy and asserts his right to parent, it is still not as simple as simply choosing to parent. If the potential birth mother wants to place her child for adoption, the father again has to prove that he can provide a home for the child, his parental fitness, and his ability to provide for the mother during her pregnancy. These requirements may be especially hard and biased against teenage birth fathers. If the birth father cannot provide adequately for mother and child based on the standards of the court, he may not have any say in his child being placed. While birth fathers do have rights in adoption and the courts are beginning to rule more in favor of family, the rights of birth fathers have a long way to go to be equal or comparable to the rights of birth mothers.