Over the weekend I saw an article that was printed in the NY Times.
The article talks about a birth father who learned of his former fiancée’s pregnancy three weeks before the baby was due. He learned of this when the adoption agency called and asked if he would consent to have this baby adopted.
He son is now 18 months old and he has never seen him. Instead, he lost his parental rights because he failed to register with a state registry for unwed fathers. He didn’t know of this registry until after it was too late.
This case took place in FL but there are other states as well that have registries that an unmarried father has no right to withhold consent for adoption unless he has registered with the state putative father registry before and adoption petition if filed.
Woman have the right to choose abortion or to raise the baby without informing the birth father and birth father should have a right to be involved and have rights to. Sadly, to claim these rights, the birth fathers have to registry with these registries which by the way is about 30 states and all vary widely.
Just like adoption reunion registries, these types of registries have a double edged sword. In this case though is the registry protecting the birth father rights or the adoptive parents and the babies that have been relinquished to adoption. Again, like the adoption reunion registries, how can they work if no one has heard of them?
The article also reminds readers about Baby Jessica and Baby Richard. These two cases were in the 1990’s which birth parents won custody of babies placed with adoptive parents years earlier.
In my opinion, I think that these state paternity registry’s are a crock. You can’t pass over a man and his rights just because he has not registered, especially if he never heard of the registry. In FL about 100 men have heard of the registry while other states that publicize more have many more applicants. I strongly believe that if laws like this take hold all over, it can go two ways. The first is that some men will be relieved to know that if they don’t sign up they need never be bothered about adoption by a pregnant woman they slept with. The second is that men would want to take an interest in their child will register which means that this registering would have to become a right of passage.