November 4th prompt…The Natural Father
According to biology, it takes two to make a baby. However, when it comes to adoption often the natural father seems to be left out of the conversation more often than not.
Do you feel that’s a valid statement?
Where to start is the question, but yes, it’s a valid statement today and always has been. Historically the states excluded fathers if the child was illegitimate. Below is an example of the laws during my era. In Washington state they ensured in three separate areas of the adoption act that the father did not need to give consent, or be provided notice of the adoption hearing.
ADOPTIONS AN ACT (applicable sections)
SEC. 4. No consent for the adoption of a minor shall be required as follows:
(5) From a father of an illegitimate child.
SEC. 5. If the court in an adoption proceeding, no consent after a hearing for that purpose upon notice thereof as hereinafter provided having been given to a parent, finds any of the conditions set forth in Section 4 of this act to be a fact as to the parent, the court may decree that consent of such parent shall not be required prior to adoption: Provided, that the father of an illegitimate child shall not be entitled to notice of such hearing.
SEC. 8. (1) The court shall direct notice of any hearing under section 5 of this act to be given to any or guardian, person or non-consenting parent or guardian, if any, and to any association having the actual care, custody, or control of the child: Provided, That where a parent has been deprived of the custody of such child and such child has been set over for adoption by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, after due notice in a preceding regularly had for such purpose, no notice need be given to the parent so deprived, and the record of such deprivation proceedings shall be deemed prima facie proof of such deprivation;
(5) If the court is satisfied of the illegitimacy of the child to be adopted, and so finds, no notice to the father of such child shall be made.
Passed the Senate March 9, 1955.; Passed the House March 7, 1955.; Approved by the Governor March 18, 1955. (source)
The 1972 US Supreme court ruling on Standley v Illinois changed that. In a post back in August about a 1972 article they talk the upcoming changes – below is a quote from that article regarding fathers.
“That problem, the rights of the father of the illegitimate child, is just starting in the courts and it’s one that social agencies see as an impending nightmare, further complicating the adoption procedures and creating more children doomed to the never-for-sure world of foster homes.
In most states an unwed mother may give up her child for adoption without the permission of the father, but changes are taking place.”
(quoted from Decrease In Homes For Unwed Mothers-Rise In illegitimacy )
Today there is a mishmash of laws regarding fathers and adoption – some states have putative fathers registries, other states don’t have any. Fathers are still loosing their rights when it comes adoption – due to how some states have set up impossible to navigate requirements – especially for out-of-state fathers where the mother has gone to that state to give birth. A federal putative fathers registry bill was submitted in 2009, but hasn’t gone further, as far as I can see.
What always strikes me as bizarre is that the opponents of any adoptee rights legislation always bring up the privacy rights of the birth parents – yet many, or most of the fathers – were deliberately denied any rights when it came to adoption laws. You can’t have your cake and eat it too – just because you think it will add weight to the argument that has been dismantled about mothers – you can’t now try to include the fathers rights that were stripped back when the adoptions took place.
Were your natural parents treated as equals in your adoptive household?
Absolutely treated as equals – no qualifiers were added, no disrespect was ever shown. I had a mom and dad and a mother and father.
As a child, did you wonder about your natural father?
Not as much as about my mother – but I think that is pretty normal seeing as it was my mother who nurtured me – and gave birth to me.
Were you given any details about him?
There wasn’t much to give – one of the four sentences of my story was about my father – I found out decades later that most of the details were incorrect – except that he didn’t want anything to do with me.
How did that make you feel?
It didn’t really strike me in any way – we are talking one sentence and really – what can one sentence tell you about a person. I was upset when I found out the social worker just created a plausible lie about him, that wasn’t right – but really not a surprise when it comes to adoption – now is it…
What is your view on natural fathers’ rights?
That they should be included in every single adoption plan just like the mother – unless of course they are abusive or raped the mother. It’s a tough call, but if all things being equal and the mother goes out of her way to keep a safe father out of the adoption process, or life of the child – then I have lost respect for the mother, and feel the law should protect the fathers rights. I also think all involved in the adoption should work hard to make sure a father is never cut out of the picture when possible and his rights respected.
Shadow’s thoughts on the Natural Fathers prompt – give might just make you cry.