Adoption | Biological Father Rights

The Adoption and Surrogacy Law Center

It is important for all parties involved in an adoption to understand and account for the rights of any possible biological or genetic fathers of a child to be placed for adoption. Oftentimes the term “birth father” is used. The rights of birth fathers often are addressed differently than the rights of birth mothers. For example, in many states, the parental rights of a birth father often can be addressed prior to the birth whereas the parental rights of birth mothers cannot be addressed until after the birth.

 

  • What kind of categories can men fall into to be considered a “birth father?” This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but it is an important factor for the parties to figure out early on, since a man may have different rights depending on the “category” into which he is placed. Here are the primary categories:
    • Married or Presumed. If the biological mother is married, then generally the law creates a presumption that her husband is the birth father, making him a presumed birth father. A presumed birth father may have to consent to an adoption or, in some cases, execute a denial of paternity in order for an adoption to proceed. Alternatively, if they have been separated and the husband is clearly not the father, then in some cases the placing mother can sign an affidavit that she did not have conjugal relations with her husband in at least 300 or more days prior to the birth. Some states require that notice of an adoption be provided to a presumed father. If the presumed father is in fact the biological father, then generally he will be entitled to the most rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to consent or object.
    • Acknowledged. In other cases, a birth mother may have listed a father on the birth certificate, and that man may have signed an affidavit of paternity (or similar document) at the hospital putting him on the birth certificate (even if they are not married); and this makes that man an acknowledged father. In some states there are additional ways besides being put on the birth certificate that a biological father might be found to be acknowledged – such as the child is given his last name and placed on his health insurance or declared on his tax return as a dependent. An acknowledged father often is entitled to more rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to consent or object.
    • Adjudicated. If a court has recognized a man as a birth father of a child, based on DNA testing or other evidence, then such finding makes that man an adjudicated father. Like an acknowledged father, he often is entitled to more rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to object.
    • Putative. A common category that birth fathers fall into is the putative birth father category. A putative father is not married to the biological mother, has not been listed on the birth certificate or otherwise been officially acknowledged as the father, and has not been adjudicated (found by a court) to be the father. In some cases, a birth mother may not be sure who is the biological father of the child and there may be more than one possible biological father. A putative father typically has the least amount of parental rights in an adoption unless there is a putative father registry available and that man registers with the registry (or registries if several states are involved). In some states, if the identity and whereabouts of the putative father are known, they may be entitled to some notice of the adoption but in most states with putative father registries they are not entitled to notice unless they have registered. In some states a birth father also may change his “category” from putative to adjudicated by filing a paternity action. More information about putative birth fathers is available here: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa/birth-parents/putative-father-registry

     

  • What rights do birth fathers generally have? Depending on what category he falls into, as set out above, the rights of a birth father will vary. As a general rule, the rights of a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated birth father will be more extensive than the rights of a putative birth father. This is because the men in the first three categories have generally taken affirmative steps to establish themselves as a parent before an adoption takes place. However, if any birth father wants to be involved in, or object to, an adoption process, it is important that he speak to an attorney as soon as he is alerted to the possibility of an adoption plan and find out what he must do to protect his rights. In some cases, a putative birth father may have a very limited amount of time to register with a state putative father registry if he wants to receive further notice of any adoption proceedings or participate in the adoption plan. More information about putative father registries can be found at the link above.

     

  • What if a putative birth father doesn’t know about the pregnancy? A putative birth father’s lack of knowledge about a pregnancy is not generally grounds for disrupting or reversing an adoption when all other appropriate legal steps have been taken to address the putative birth father’s rights. The concept of having a putative father registry in place is that any man who has sex with a woman is then automatically on notice that he might be a father – and that child he fathered could be subject to an adoption. In some states with putative father registries, the biological mother is under no duty to even tell the man that she is pregnant and that the child might be his child. Also in some cases, the birth mother may not know who the birth father is, or may not know how to find or contact him, and in those cases, there may be no way for her to inform him of the pregnancy prior to the adoption. State laws vary greatly regarding what steps must be taken to address the rights of putative birth fathers. Any man who has reason to believe he may have fathered a child should familiarize himself with his state laws if he wants to ensure his right to participate in any potential adoption plan for his biological child.

     

  • What about cases where a birth father is involved in the adoption plan? Generally, when a birth father is involved in the adoption plan, either along with the biological mother or on his own (for example, where the biological mother is deceased or has disappeared). Then he will have all of the same rights as a placing mother. These rights may include: the right to select or help select the adoptive family, the right to consent to the adoption (and in some cases may have the right to revoke that consent up to a certain time), and the right to an ongoing contact agreement with the adoptive family. More information about placing parent rights generally can be found here.
I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
My husband and I just recently finalized the adoption of our son thanks to Colleen! Our situation happened FAST, and Colleen never missed a beat. Colleen, Katie and Charli were all quick to answer any questions we had and made us feel confident in their ability to provide the services needed. We were blown away at the knowledge and organization Colleen had throughout this process as well! We intend to continue to grow our family through adoption again, and will be using Locke & Quinn!
Ashley Halsey
Ashley Halsey
2019-02-10T03:58:33+0000
My wife and I worked with Colleen Quinn and her paralegal Charli (CharSalle) on my daughter's international re-adoption. We are in Fairfax, VA and they were happy to work with us even though we weren’t local to them. Everything was done by email and mail. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were very knowledgeable about the process. We worked almost entirely with Charli after the initial emails and phone calls and she was great to work with. They filed all of our paperwork with our court, everything went smoothly, and we received our Final Order. Charli has always kept us in the loop about the process and sent us updates. We mailed original documents back and forth without any issue. Their legal fee was very competitive and better than most attorneys in our own area. We are very pleased with their work and assistance in getting our adoption finalized. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Thank you!
Ahmed Rashid
Ahmed Rashid
2018-12-20T14:52:57+0000
Great experience!! Everything I needed they took care of with a timely fashion! Highly recommend!
Morgan Williams Seay
Morgan Williams Seay
2018-08-21T00:14:11+0000
Bob Stiepock
Bob Stiepock
2017-10-23T19:39:04+0000
Personal Injury is a challenging event on many levels in ones life. Have you experienced a moment where you were injured and need to seek legal advice? You need to make a call to Colleen Quinn today. I began to research different law firms that handled Personal Injury. I interviewed several attorneys and spoke with large practices to small firms. I was impressed by Colleens resume and her work with women and the law. I will never regret hiring Colleen and her TEAM. The word TEAM is exactly what I received through out my case. My case was attacked with professionalism and the team was always in communication with me. When I would call to ask questions or to get a better explanation I was always made to feel as if I was the only client. As my case arrived closer to the trail date, my TEAM went into full 110%+ effort and preparation. Colleen was ALWAYS seeking to settle my case with the best outcome that she could. YOU WILL NOT FIND A MORE UPFRONT, HONEST, HARDWORKING-GET IT DONE ATTITUDE THAN THE TEAM OF COLLEEN M. QUINN!! MAKE THAT CALL TODAY-YOU WONT REGET IT!!
Lisa Moore Walker
Lisa Moore Walker
2017-09-17T03:54:10+0000
Cathy Tyree Herb
Cathy Tyree Herb
2013-07-30T17:33:44+0000
RICHMOND: 804-285-6253
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Biological Father Rights


It is important for all parties involved in an adoption to understand and account for the rights of any possible biological or genetic fathers of a child to be placed for adoption. Oftentimes the term “birth father” is used. The rights of birth fathers often are addressed differently than the rights of birth mothers. For example, in many states, the parental rights of a birth father often can be addressed prior to the birth whereas the parental rights of birth mothers cannot be addressed until after the birth.

 

  • What kind of categories can men fall into to be considered a “birth father?” This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but it is an important factor for the parties to figure out early on, since a man may have different rights depending on the “category” into which he is placed. Here are the primary categories:
    • Married or Presumed. If the biological mother is married, then generally the law creates a presumption that her husband is the birth father, making him a presumed birth father. A presumed birth father may have to consent to an adoption or, in some cases, execute a denial of paternity in order for an adoption to proceed. Alternatively, if they have been separated and the husband is clearly not the father, then in some cases the placing mother can sign an affidavit that she did not have conjugal relations with her husband in at least 300 or more days prior to the birth. Some states require that notice of an adoption be provided to a presumed father. If the presumed father is in fact the biological father, then generally he will be entitled to the most rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to consent or object.
    • Acknowledged. In other cases, a birth mother may have listed a father on the birth certificate, and that man may have signed an affidavit of paternity (or similar document) at the hospital putting him on the birth certificate (even if they are not married); and this makes that man an acknowledged father. In some states there are additional ways besides being put on the birth certificate that a biological father might be found to be acknowledged – such as the child is given his last name and placed on his health insurance or declared on his tax return as a dependent. An acknowledged father often is entitled to more rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to consent or object.
    • Adjudicated. If a court has recognized a man as a birth father of a child, based on DNA testing or other evidence, then such finding makes that man an adjudicated father. Like an acknowledged father, he often is entitled to more rights such as actual notice of the adoption and the right to object.
    • Putative. A common category that birth fathers fall into is the putative birth father category. A putative father is not married to the biological mother, has not been listed on the birth certificate or otherwise been officially acknowledged as the father, and has not been adjudicated (found by a court) to be the father. In some cases, a birth mother may not be sure who is the biological father of the child and there may be more than one possible biological father. A putative father typically has the least amount of parental rights in an adoption unless there is a putative father registry available and that man registers with the registry (or registries if several states are involved). In some states, if the identity and whereabouts of the putative father are known, they may be entitled to some notice of the adoption but in most states with putative father registries they are not entitled to notice unless they have registered. In some states a birth father also may change his “category” from putative to adjudicated by filing a paternity action. More information about putative birth fathers is available here: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa/birth-parents/putative-father-registry

     

  • What rights do birth fathers generally have? Depending on what category he falls into, as set out above, the rights of a birth father will vary. As a general rule, the rights of a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated birth father will be more extensive than the rights of a putative birth father. This is because the men in the first three categories have generally taken affirmative steps to establish themselves as a parent before an adoption takes place. However, if any birth father wants to be involved in, or object to, an adoption process, it is important that he speak to an attorney as soon as he is alerted to the possibility of an adoption plan and find out what he must do to protect his rights. In some cases, a putative birth father may have a very limited amount of time to register with a state putative father registry if he wants to receive further notice of any adoption proceedings or participate in the adoption plan. More information about putative father registries can be found at the link above.

     

  • What if a putative birth father doesn’t know about the pregnancy? A putative birth father’s lack of knowledge about a pregnancy is not generally grounds for disrupting or reversing an adoption when all other appropriate legal steps have been taken to address the putative birth father’s rights. The concept of having a putative father registry in place is that any man who has sex with a woman is then automatically on notice that he might be a father – and that child he fathered could be subject to an adoption. In some states with putative father registries, the biological mother is under no duty to even tell the man that she is pregnant and that the child might be his child. Also in some cases, the birth mother may not know who the birth father is, or may not know how to find or contact him, and in those cases, there may be no way for her to inform him of the pregnancy prior to the adoption. State laws vary greatly regarding what steps must be taken to address the rights of putative birth fathers. Any man who has reason to believe he may have fathered a child should familiarize himself with his state laws if he wants to ensure his right to participate in any potential adoption plan for his biological child.

     

  • What about cases where a birth father is involved in the adoption plan? Generally, when a birth father is involved in the adoption plan, either along with the biological mother or on his own (for example, where the biological mother is deceased or has disappeared). Then he will have all of the same rights as a placing mother. These rights may include: the right to select or help select the adoptive family, the right to consent to the adoption (and in some cases may have the right to revoke that consent up to a certain time), and the right to an ongoing contact agreement with the adoptive family. More information about placing parent rights generally can be found here.
I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
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