I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the birthmother in the adoption equation, trying to understand and relate to her as best I can. Yet we all know there’s another factor involved as well. The birthfather is not physically attached to the child during pregnancy, so it can be easy to forget his significance. But he shares the same biological connection to the baby as his female counterpart, and often times the law recognizes that.
I say “often times”, because adoption laws vary significantly from state to state. The differences in birthmother rights are confusing enough, when it comes to fathers it’s mind-boggling. Some states don’t seem to consider the birthfather at all, and will allow an adoption to proceed without paying him a second glance. Others require many legal steps to verify that he is aware and approves of the situation. He’s fathered a child, and deserves the opportunity to parent said child if he so chooses. To respect this, adoptive parents are often required to follow complicated procedures of notification and legal termination ensuring that his rights are protected.
Our expectant mom #3 is different from our first two in a lot of ways, most notably that she’s taken the significant steps of turning in her paperwork to the agency and allowing us to see her prenatal medical records. But she also resides outside of our state, and is not in a relationship with the baby’s father. The former just meant a google search and some questions to the social workers to determine the legal timelines. The later however, means a lot more.
The biological father is known, and knows about the pregnancy. Expectant mom has told him that she’s planning an adoption, and has invited him to be a part of the process. But he has now stopped returning her (or the social worker’s) phone calls, and has moved from his last known address. He most likely won’t be present to sign paperwork after the birth as the bio mom will. Thus we embark on a meticulous journey to ensure that his rights to fatherhood are protected during the process of establishing us as the legal parents. With plenty of time remaining before this child’s birth and possible placement in our care, these steps will serve to punctuate the weeks and months ahead. And I find myself examining the emotional and moral road that is adoption from yet another angle.