What Are a Father’s Rights During Adoption?

father's rights during adoption

The mother of a baby may consent to adoption no sooner than 48 hours after the child’s birth. What about the father’s rights during adoption?

With so much focus on mothers after a child is born, a father’s rights during adoption can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, especially if the mother plans to consent to adoption for the child. When this is the case, what is a father’s rights during adoption? 

First, the child’s father must be notified of the birth and the mother’s plans for adoption. Notification can be made either personally by service or by publication. Reasonable efforts must be made to locate the father before the adoption can proceed.

A father can sign an affidavit giving up all rights to his child any time after the first trimester. But, if a man is the biological father, married to the mother, he cannot consent until 48 hours after the child’s birth. 

These are the laws for two parents who are on the same page regarding the adoption process. What if the father of the baby does not want to place the child up for adoption?

In Texas, a father may add his name to the state paternity registry.

The Texas Vital Statistics Unit operates the state paternity registry. By adding his name to this list, a father declares that he is the father of a child and that he wants to claim his parental rights. He can register before the child is born or within 31 days after the birth of the child.

The paternity registry is used when the birth father and mother no longer have a relationship and the father is not listed on the child’s birth certificate. Filing on the list does not legally establish paternity, and it cannot be used to add the man’s name to the birth certificate.

What if the mother does not know who the biological father is?

Adoption means terminating the parental rights of both birth parents. Efforts must be made to find the identity and whereabouts of the biological father.  The Department of Family & Protective Services must show the court that diligent efforts to locate the father were made.

Under section 161.002 of the Texas Family Code, the rights of an alleged father may be terminated if:

  • the child is over one year of age at the time the petition for termination or adoption is filed
  • he has not registered with the paternity registry
  • if, after exercising due diligence, his identify and location cannot be determined
  • his identity is known but he cannot be located

This means that a father who wants a relationship with his child has one year from the child’s birth to sign up with the paternity registry.  If he does not, his rights can be terminated if he cannot be found or if his identity is unknown.

Of course, a birth father may choose not to consent to the adoption. Birth fathers have the same legal rights as birth mothers. As a father, you have the right to object to the adoption, request a paternity test and file suit to seek custody of your child.

An experienced Family Law attorney can help you protect your rights as a father. If you have questions or concerns about your parental rights, call us at 210-368-9708 to schedule a consultation. 

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