Does the biological father have to consent to an adoption?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I had a one night sexual encounter with a woman I met in a club. She told me several months later she was pregnant and intended to give the child up for adoption. Does the biological father have to consent to the adoption? What if I want to rear the child? Please let me what options I have and what I must do to keep the baby.”

Adoption Overview

Adoption allows a child to be removed from the care and home of their biological family and legally placed in the care of another family. Adoption will permanently terminate the parental rights of the biological parents and transfer parental rights to the adoptive parents.

Does the biological father have to consent to an adoption?

Under some circumstance, adoption is the best option for a child. In fact, in many cases adoption allows the child to be placed in a home with two committed parents who can give the child all the emotional, financial, and social support they need. In this case, adoption can be one of the most selfless and courageous decisions that is made by parents.

In some cases, however, it might be better for the child to remain with one or both of their biological parents. Either way, as the father, assuming you establish parental rights, you generally do have the right to consent or object to the adoption of a child, provided you meet certain requirements.

Let’s take a closer look at what you must do.

Steps to gain parental rights of your biological child:

  1. Establish paternity

The first step to objecting to the adoption and gaining your parental rights will be for you to establish paternity of the child. This can be done through DNA testing, including the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate, voluntarily signing an acknowledgment of paternity (the time may vary by state and may substitute as a court order), file an informal paternity statement (statements must be notarized and may have to be filed with a state agency), or file a legal action to establish paternity and take a DNA test. State laws for establishing paternity can vary by state.

  1. Establish a commitment to parenting

If you want to contest the adoption, it’s important not only to confirm paternity of the child, but also to establish a relationship and commitment to parenting.

What does this mean? It will not be enough just to show up at court and contest the adoption without ever having seen or visited the child. In fact, the court will expect that you have met the social, emotional, financial, and material needs of the child. This means you will need to be present during the pregnancy, pay for medical expenses, provide child support, avoid drug and alcohol problems, and have a relationship with your child.

Bottom Line:

Start now to establish paternity, support the mother of the child and develop a relationship with the child. As the biological father, if you do not take the right steps to establish your paternal rights you may lose your right to your child.

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