Can I Choose Adoption Without Father Consent in California?
For a variety of reasons, many expectant mothers contact FCCA wanting to know, “Can you put a baby up for adoption without the father’s consent?”
Whether you are curious about adoption without consent because your baby’s father is unknown, unsupportive or otherwise uninvolved in your life, FCCA can likely help you proceed with your adoption plans.
Notifying the Father of Your Adoption Plan
FCCA is required by law to attempt contact with each man who might be the child’s biological father to give him notice of the adoption plan. This means we will ask you for his name and contact information. While you are not legally required to give us this information, failing to do so means that adoption could be at risk if he learns of the child at some point later. Unless you are truly afraid for your safety, it is always best to disclose as much as you know so that we can take the proper steps.
Once you do tell us the name of any potential father, we are required to attempt to notify him. Our first preference is to communicate directly with each potential father during an in-person meeting to discuss the situation. If he’s not willing to meet in person, we can talk to him on the phone. Either way, he will have the opportunity to state his feelings about the adoption plan and to ask us questions about the process. We will explain the adoption process and provide the information he needs to get on board with your adoption plan. We will not tell him where you are located, or how to find you or the child, unless you authorize us to do so.
If he refuses to respond to us and takes no further action after receiving notice, his parental rights may be terminated by the court without notice after the child is born.
Adoption When the Father is Unknown
Even if you do not know the name or whereabouts of the alleged father, FCCA is required to search diligently for him and report the efforts of that search to the court. If the man cannot be located, the court may terminate his parental rights without notice to him.
Adoption When the Father is Supportive
It is not uncommon to choose adoption when you are married or have a positive relationship with your baby’s father. If your baby’s father wants to be involved in the adoption plan, he can sign the relinquishment documents with you after your baby is born.
Having the support of your baby’s father can simplify the adoption process, and he can be as involved in your adoption plan as you want him to be. Here are some ways you might choose to include him:
- Ask him to help you determine what types of adoption situations you want for your baby
- Offer to let him review adoptive family profiles with you
- Involve him in pre-placement contact with the adoptive parents
- Lean on him for emotional support throughout the adoption process
- Include him in your hospital plan
The birth father can also choose to maintain a relationship with your child after placement. If he is interested in an open or semi-open adoption, FCCA can include him in your post-placement contact agreement.
If your baby’s father does not object to the adoption, but doesn’t want to be involved in the case, he simply needs to sign a Waiver of Notice or a Denial of Paternity. He can sign either of these forms before or after the child is born.
Adoption When the Father is Unsupportive
Even if an alleged father objects to the adoption, he is rarely in a legal position to block the adoption from happening. This is true even if he wants to raise the child himself, or wants a family member to raise the child. An alleged biological father must take specific legal steps in a very timely fashion to establish and preserve his parental rights.
In most cases, he can block the adoption only if he meets one of these strict legal requirements:
- You are married to him, or were married to him within 300 days of the child’s birth
- He has received the child into his home and has publicly acknowledged the child as his own
- You and the birth father have both signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity to have him listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate. Hospital personnel often insist that you sign this form at the time of the child’s birth, but you are not required to do so and should NOT do so if you are planning to place the child for adoption.
- Within a short time after he knew or should have known about the pregnancy, he has done everything possible to take care of you and the child, both emotionally and financially
Except for the four requirements listed above, the alleged biological father’s consent to the adoption is not required. Still, notice to him is always required, except in the case of an unknown father and adoption. And once he knows about the adoption, he does have the right to file a legal action to ask the court to stop the adoption. As a practical matter, however, most alleged fathers never take this step, even those who seem adamant about preventing the adoption.
Even in the rare cases where an alleged father files the legal paperwork on time, the great majority of these claims are denied because the man has not fulfilled his pre-birth responsibilities to the mother or the child. The court may then allow the adoption to go forward without his consent and over his objection.
There are some exceptions and limitations to these rules, so it’s vital for you to give us all known information about all potential birth fathers. Even if you are embarrassed about some of the facts, God’s Word promises that the truth will set you free. John 8:32. Telling us the whole truth about the situation with the child’s birth father helps us to provide you with the very best counsel and assistance regarding your adoption plan.