Need for State Birth Father Registries
On average, 25 women call us each week, sharing one common
concern: the requirement that the birth father consents and
the adoption. These women are desperately wanting to know how
they can legally have their babies adopted if the father of their
child has said he is not going to sign or is no where to be found.
These men often have more than one woman pregnant at a time or
have fathered other children they are not supporting emotionally
or financially. They refuse to sign for the adoption yet will
not provide any assistance in the form of financial or emotional
Thankfully, we know that there are also devoted birth fathers,
interested in being part of an adoption plan and supporting
the birth mother as she tries to make the right choices for
her child. Some birth fathers have a true desire to parent
their child, or at least support the child and mother financially.
These are real fathers, fathers with a compassion and concern
for the future of their child. And they are not the problem.
Not Fathers But
Birth fathers who stand in the way of what is best for the
child, be it adoption or being a true father, are nothing
more than “sperm donors.” They just want to have
a good time, then when a woman becomes pregnant and tries
to do what is right in her mind by choosing adoption, he
puts up a road block.
A woman in this position is fearful and often faced with
a birth father that is simply not going to cooperate. Most
of these men are not working, have a
history of abuse or substance abuse, and have no intention of supporting the
child. They want to know the “kid” is there if they want to see “it”,
some day, maybe someday, often never. They see kids from different women as
trophies, validating they are able to produce, not realizing it take so much
more than sperm to be a Father and Dad to a child.
Frequently these women are burdened with three or more children, trying to
raise them the best she can with never enough money, food, or support. Another
mouth to feed would mean less for the children she has, and less hope of escaping
the endless cycle she sees herself in. The fathers of her children are aware
of the system and will make just enough money to support themselves, often
working under the table to avoid having their paychecks garnished for child
support. Three children, three different fathers and no form of child support
-- What is the mother to do with a baby that is due in a few weeks?
Naomi was one woman who didn’t have
the support of her family. At 21, she became pregnant with
her third child. Once
her parents and her boyfriend found out she was pregnant again,
they shunned her. With no one offering guidance or help, she
faced a tough decision alone.
Naomi said she considered placing her second
child with an adoptive family, but decided to keep her baby
when the birth
father told her he wouldn’t sign for the adoption, and
her parents allowed her to move back in with them for a while.
“Everything was going fine until I found
out I was pregnant again. Then everything let loose,” she
told me when she called, trying to make an adoption plan for
the baby she was
carrying. “Right now, it is the best decision I could
make for all of us.” She shared with me some of her
daily difficulties, including struggling to keep the other
from running into the street.
“When I told the father I was pregnant, he said it wasn’t
his. I haven’t been with anyone else. I know it is his
baby.” She was asking how she can complete this adoption
without his cooperation since he wouldn’t even acknowledge
it was his child. When we posed this question to an adoption
attorney, we found that since they didn’t live together
he was only considered an alleged birth father. The lawyer
would serve him papers, and if the time lapsed without a formal
objection to the adoption, his rights would be terminated.
Naomi could complete the adoption, placing her baby with the
couple of her choice, without any recourse from him.
Strong Women Want
More for Their Children
One of the reasons this country has so many children in foster
care is that women are unaware of their power, and they buy
into the fear these men put into their minds. We’ve
had women tell us, “If I can’t complete the adoption,
I will just have an abortion. He can’t stop me from
We need laws that protect these children.
When a women is strong enough to go through with a pregnancy
and wants to give
her child a better life, she should have that choice. But because
the man than fathered this child is unwilling to allow an adoption,
the child, the mother, and her other children all suffer from
this irresponsible man. We have found that most men like this
are full of hot air; they have not completed anything in their
lives, can’t keep a job, may have outstanding warrants,
and if, they had to show up in court to contest the adoption,
they would be arrested. So instead, they control and threaten
to get the woman to keep a child they will not take any responsibility
If a birth father can see the benefit of
adoption, an open adoption where there are choices, some
will let the adoption
go through without a fuss. Many logical men just want to be
heard, they want to be part of the process, and not left out
in the cold. They want some say and don’t want to be
judged. These are the smart men that can think beyond themselves
and what they can offer. These are real men that care for others
and their children.
Adoption Offers So Much More
Adoption has changed and birth parents are given choices
in adoption. An open adoption or semi-open adoption allows
the birth parents to select a family for their child as well
as updates and photos as the child grows if they wish.
Thirty years ago, a woman than was unable for whatever reason
to parent her child could quietly go to a home and then place
the child without having to get consent from the father. This
was acceptable then when men fathering children out of wedlock
was frowned upon.
In today’s society it is common to have one, two or
even three children by three different women. Only a small
percentage of these men are responsible and willing to support
their children, the others leave the task to an overburdened
welfare system and the struggling women forced to raise another
child, something she knows she hasn’t the time, money,
or strength to do.
Each week adoption professionals get calls from women seeking
help, often with crying, screaming children in the background.
It is any wonder that they have to go to desperate lengths
to survive. Is this fair? Certainly not to the innocent children.
A few will be lovingly placed for adoption in families that
are eager and willing to provide a loving and stable home to
Men Will Have Choices Also
These children need to grow up with parents that love them,
committed to giving them the opportunities to be all they can
be in life. New adoption laws need to be in place that allow
responsible fathers to register with a “birth father
registry”, similar to the one used in Oregon and other
states now. If a man knows he is the father of a child that
is going to be born and wants to support the child, then he
signs a registry acknowledging that he is the father and wants
to be responsible. The fathers that do not sign the registry
and are not interested in supporting the child then lose their
rights. The mother can then choose what is best for her child,
be it parenting or adoption.
When birth fathers do object to an adoption,
85% say they don’t want the child placed because it will make them
look bad. Their own macho image is more important to them than
their child’s future.
No wonder we have so many women forced into not naming the
father, saying they were raped, or claiming that they sleep
around, just so that they can give their child a better life.
Can you blame a woman that makes this choice? She is reaching
out for help, wanting to do something that she feels is in
the best interest of her child, and wanting to insure that
her child has a true father, not this loser who places more
worth on his image than his child. It’s a simple fact
that when children grow up, they will often mirror the behaviors
of their own father or mother. And so, without better choices
made, the negative cycle continues.
the Cycle of Abuse and Poverty
If a little girl sees her mother abused, then she will often
be attracted to men in her life that will treat her as
her mother was treated. The mothers that call us are trying
stop this cycle. They are bright women than want more for
their children. They see what they are not able to provide
now, and know that they want more for their child, in spite
of the personal sacrifice. Women with this much love and
concern for their children should not be forced to parent
or to abandon their baby in an alley, in hopes it will
Everyone would benefit if we had in place
more laws that required men to register. We would see less
child abuse, less women
dependent on welfare for their support. It would allow the
responsible men to have their rights upheld and the irresponsible
ones granted no rights unless they take the steps themselves
needed to raise these little ones. It would give thousands
of children the basics in life that they don’t have,
or don’t have any hope or receiving. And most importantly,
it would offer every child the hope for a safe home and the
promise of a future.
No one will deny that we have too many children entering
the foster care system every day. Many of these children
have been placed for adoption at birth or a younger age and
given a chance for a safe adoptive home and a loving forever
family, something that many of their mothers had hoped for
before they took their first breath. Reach out in your community,
speak to the lawmakers and representatives that can help
change the adoption laws. And maybe, just maybe, the
will have a chance at a better life.
by Mardie Caldwell C.O.A.P.
Founder of Lifetime
Adoption Facilitation Center in 1986,
Radio Talk Show
Host for Lets
Talk Adoption, Executive Director
Adoption Foundation and Author of AdoptingOnline.com -
Your # 1 Internet
Adoption Resource Guide. Mardie has also authored numerous
articles on adoption, parenting and financing. She is also
married with four children. You may reach Mardie at www.MardieCaldwell.com for reprint permission.