A Birth Father’s Role and Responsibilities in the Adoption Process
If you are a birth father, you may be wondering what your role is in the adoption process. Unfortunately, more times than not, birth fathers are left out of the conversation regarding adoption, which can lead to a lack of important resources. Birth fathers experience many of the same emotions that birth mothers do and some report feelings of shame at their inability to “step up” and care for their child. However, it actually takes more strength and maturity for you to recognize that you can’t parent your child and to make the brave and admirable choice of supporting the birth mother in placing the child for adoption. Depending on your relationship with her, you may have the opportunity to become involved in the adoption process and walk alongside her from start to finish. This shows that both of you truly care for your child and want him or her to have the best life possible. If you both decide on an open adoption agreement, you can feel at peace knowing your child will be well taken care of.
But whether you and the birth mother are together or not, understanding a birth father’s role and responsibilities in the adoption process is crucial to navigating the adoption journey. Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to help guide you through these. For the sake of this blog, we will be speaking from the stance of you wanting to be actively involved in the adoption process.
Completing Medical History
A simple first step is to fill out your family medical history paperwork. This information will help support your child in receiving optimal healthcare throughout his or her life. The adoptive parents will be forever grateful in knowing how best to instruct health providers in future check-ups or how to respond when there is a medical emergency.
Having your medical history available can make a huge difference in their ability to keep you child safe and practice healthy preventive measures when necessary.
Adoption Choices of Colorado provides counseling services to both you and the birth mother. Utilizing this resource can be a great way for you to get involved in the adoption process from the very beginning. It can be really valuable for you both to work together in this process, as it can feel isolating and difficult at times.
One of your roles and responsibilities in the adoption process is to support the birth mother, but you can only do this if you are physically, emotionally and mentally able to do so. This is another reason why taking advantage of our free counseling services is beneficial to you. It allows you a safe place to voice your worries, fears and concerns with the adoption journey, as well as to process your emotions overall.
Designing a Hospital Plan
Another option you have is collaborating with the birth mother on the hospital plan. Do you want a few extra hours in the hospital with your baby before completing the relinquishment paperwork? What is most important to you during your time in the hospital? Is the birth mother okay with you being with her and the baby together, or would she like time alone with the baby first?
Remember that it’s okay for this plan to change even if you both initially agree. Emotions are known to be very high in the hospital, and your adoption caseworker will help you navigate any last minute changes. Having a tentative plan in place will allow you to have a sense of framework to work from when your judgment and thought process are overwhelmed in the moment. You are allowed to decide in the hospital if you want more time with the child before signing the relinquishment paperwork and giving him or her to their adoptive family.
Developing an Open Adoption Plan
Adoption has three options when it comes to the level of openness you have with your child and the adoptive parent post adoption. As a birth father, you and the birth mother can decide what kind of contact you would like to have. Our agency encourages you to consider an open adoption agreement, as that permits you to get to know your child after the adoption has been finalized. If you think this is the best option for you moving forward, but need some time after the adoption to grieve and process, that’s ok. You can begin with receiving photos and letters from the adoptive family and move to occasional visits when you’re ready.
Open adoption can give you a sense of peace and joy knowing that your child is happy and healthy with their adoptive family. It can also provide you with the opportunity to establish a relationship with the adoptive parents throughout the adoption journey and give you the information you need to healthfully grieve and move forward with your life.
Seeking Continued Support
A birth father’s role and responsibilities in the adoption process don’t end the date the adoption is finalized. You may experience many of the same difficult and conflicting emotions that birth mothers do throughout the adoption process and afterwards. Even though your choice was brave, selfless and kept your child’s best interest at heart, feelings of grief and loss are natural and expected. It is important to seek support and give yourself permission to grieve. If you ever feel isolated, reach out. Find a support group in your area and make regular appointments with a counselor. Grief is not weakness. Nor is seeking help. It’s ok to talk about what you’re experiencing, to feel mixed emotions regarding the adoption and to need support in processing these emotions.
Too often in our society today, men are encouraged to “suck it up” or remain “strong and silent.” But these sentiments do more harm than good to a birth father’s mental health. Seeking help and sharing what is going on with others can be vital to your personal journey and ultimate well-being. You are allowed to take care of yourself. Giving a child up for adoption is both a joyful and difficult experience that can continue to affect your life for years afterwards. You deserve the same recognition and support in the grieving process as birth mothers.
A Birth Father’s Role and Responsibility in the Adoption Process
Birth fathers play a really powerful role by supporting the birth mother throughout the adoption process and respecting her preferences and her voice in creating an open adoption plan. Collaborating alongside the birth mother with healthy and open communication, even when emotions are high, is a powerful statement to make as a birth father. It shows that you are taking your birth father roles and responsibilities in the adoption process seriously. This is a great way to set up expectations and make for a smooth journey that meets everyone’s needs.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to learn more about your adoption options, contact Adoption Choices of Colorado by email, phone, or text: Email Us, Call us: 720-371-1099, Call or Text us: 303-670-4673 (HOPE). If you are hoping to adopt, please contact us here.
Meet the Author: Kara Bringewatt is an English major and psychology minor at Queens University of Charlotte. She plans to get her masters in social work and work at a nonprofit as a case manager for at-risk youth. She loves using writing as a means of creating community and bringing attention to causes she’s passionate about.
Kara is particularly interested in educational and mental health interventions for young people in foster care. She’s worked as a tutor, professional caregiver, preschool teacher and acting instructor, and loves being able to utilize her wide range of passions to support young people and plans on being a foster and adoptive parent.