When it comes to adoption, much of the focus centers around the adoptive parents, the adoptee and the birth mother; however, there is one part of the picture that isn’t always highlighted. This can be for various reasons, yet that shouldn’t lessen their importance. After all, without them, the child in question would not exist.
I am, of course, referring to the birth father.
Definition of Terms
Put simply, a birth father is a man who conceives a child with a woman. He is also known as a biological father. If his identity is unknown, he is referred to as a “putative” or “alleged” father. This label is typically as a result of the birth mother either denying his identity or choosing not to involve him. The birth father may also put himself into this category if he chooses not to legally prove his fatherhood for the child.
Birth Father Rights
Stereotypically, birth fathers are thought of as individuals who dump their unmarried pregnant girlfriends because they are irresponsible or just don’t care. That the unborn child is “a problem” they are not mature enough to handle. Ultimately, this then leads to the girlfriend/birth mother to place her child for adoption or choose abortion because she isn’t able to care for the child. Hence, birth fathers’ supposed lacking presence has spoken volumes and created potentially false accusations for years.
While this may be true for many young birth mothers, a birth father’s absence doesn’t always mean they shirked responsibility. Many may have wished they had been involved in the process.
Even though the boundaries of their involvement has blurred and has been deemed not as critical as the birth mother’s, birth fathers still reserve the right to either consent or contest to the termination of their parental rights. For a birth father to contest an adoption, he must go through the proper legal channels. First, their identity must be legally proven by a DNA. Second, he has to file an action with the Court where the proceedings have been filed and hire an attorney to represent him in the matter. He also must prove that he is a fit parent meaning no criminal background, child abuse record, has a stable living situation, and a way to provide for the child.
Unknown or Unaware Fathers
What about the cases when the identity of the birth father is unknown, and/or the birth mother has no way of contacting him? Definitely not an uncommon circumstance or occurrence. Adoption Choices of Colorado offers a couple different ways of handling this.
First, if the birth father cannot be located via name, date of birth or address, a notice is published in the newspaper. This publication, in turn, is run once in three different places: the county where the birth mother resides, where conception took place, and where the birth mother believes the birth father lives. If the birth mother is unable to be specific as to these locations then this requires a publication in a state-wide paper, such as the Denver Post, which has a much broader circulation scope. For a birth father who lives outside of Colorado, a publication is ran in the state where he resides, as well as where the birth mother resides.
Second, if a birth father can be located with a name, date of birth, phone number or address, Adoption Choices of Colorado will order a trace on him to see if he can be found. Often times, many different addresses come as a result and it can be a process of elimination to find the correct address. If a correct address is found, the birth father will be formally served via a process server. Upon service the birth father has 21 days to file an action with the Court if he is choosing to contest the adoption.
Because situations and state laws differ, the circumstances surrounding unknown birth fathers are oftentimes taken on a case-by-case basis. For further questions and concerns regarding the rights of individual biological fathers, or for legal representation, be sure to contact a family law attorney or adoption agency.
Known Birth Fathers
If the birth father is known but no longer involved in the birth mother’s life, he can’t be served until 60 days prior to birth per Colorado statute. In most cases he is served around the 45 day mark prior to birth to ensure that if the birth mother goes past her due date that it is not necessary to re-serve the birth father.
If the birth father is the birth mother’s boyfriend or, in any way, involved with the adoption process, he may want to sign either when the birth mother is signing or closer to the birth of the child.
If the birth father is the legal husband of the birth mother, he must be served as well, even if the birth mother has been separated from her husband for many years. Per statue, legal birth fathers cannot be served until after the birth. Prior to birth, he is located as described above, but he will not receive service until after birth and a notice and summons is received from the Court.
Contesting the Adoption
Birth fathers who want to contest the adoption can seek counseling to discuss and determine their true rights, and to discuss their intentions. Largely, if a birth father wants to contest the adoption, this is an emotional response or a lack of information pertaining to the adoption process. Counseling is always offered to birth fathers through Adoption Choices of Colorado to discuss the adoption process and to explore the option of having a relationship with the adoptive parents.
If, after counseling, a birth father still wants to proceed with contesting the adoption, he can follow the steps of obtaining a DNA test, filing an action with the Court and attending the hearing to determine if he is a fit parent.
Birth Fathers’ Rights in Colorado
The existence of birth fathers is often overlooked in the adoption process. In today’s culture and society, there is an unspoken rule against men expressing emotion and involving themselves where there’s guilt or shame.
A birth father is just as essential to the puzzle as the birth mother, and adoptive parents. Without them, the child and adoption would not be a reality. Despite the controversy, birth fathers do have rights and are allowed the chance to make an informed decision.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
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