When you tell your baby’s father that you’re pregnant, it’s possible that you won’t see eye to eye about your next steps. Even if adoption is the best choice for you, your baby’s father may have a different perspective.
Adoption is an emotional matter of the heart that should be handled with care. Your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime is an invaluable resource if you have issues with birth father consent; that is, when the father of your baby is against your adoption decision.
Having the Adoption Conversation
If you’ve decided that adoption is the best choice for you and your baby, you might wonder how to discuss the topic with your baby’s father. It could become an emotional conversation for both of you, but having a plan ahead can make it easier to bring up.
Before you talk with him, write your thoughts down on paper or in a note on your phone. Then, practice what you plan to say in front of a friend or your adoption coordinator and ask for their feedback.
Once you sit down and talk with your baby’s father, calmly tell him why you’re thinking about adoption. Your baby’s father may feel relieved that you have a plan for the future. When you talking to him about your decision, be sure to include:
- Why you chose adoption
- How many choices modern, open adoption gives the two of you
- What will be expected of him
“I was nervous to tell my boyfriend I was thinking about adoption,” says Maddy, a birth mother. “In the end, I decided to just be upfront with him. I told him, ‘We need to give our baby up for adoption. There’s no way we can afford everything a child needs, like health insurance and education!’ He said his family was pressuring him to ‘step up’ and be a man by stopping the adoption. But he came around once I told him he could help me choose a family and we wouldn’t be saying goodbye to our baby forever.”
Why Won’t the Birth Father Consent to Adoption?
An unplanned pregnancy is a difficult situation for fathers too. They also feel the pressure of an uncertain future and society’s expectations. Lack of information can also lead fathers to have a knee-jerk reaction against adoption. If this is the case with your situation, you may have Googled something like “How to give our baby up for adoption without the father’s consent.”
Understanding why he won’t consent to adoption can help you have a more productive conversation about your next steps.
Is he pressuring you to get an abortion? Your baby’s father might think that abortion is a quick-fix to make this situation go away. He might not fully realize the lasting physical and psychological impacts of such a permanent choice.
Does he feel like it’s his responsibility to provide for his child? For some fathers, this is a matter of pride. However, the reality is that allowing an adoption to happen might be the strongest, most responsible choice a man can make.
Is he getting pressure from his family or friends to “step up?” Even though this is your baby, it can sometimes feel like everyone in your circle wants to offer their two cents. Well-meaning family and friends might even offer to help you and the father share the responsibility. While it’s important to have a support system, mothers and fathers need to realize that the 24/7 job of parenting will always come down to them. The two of you are the only ones who can decide if you’re ready and able to take on that responsibility.
Does he understand how modern open adoption works? Many people still have misconceptions about what adoption can look like. Does the father know that consenting to adoption does not necessarily mean saying goodbye to his child forever?
What Are the Father’s Rights and Responsibilities?
Legally, the father has the same rights to his child as you. So it’s best to be honest from the start, and try to work out a plan before you place your baby for adoption.
If a father truly wants to stop the adoption process, he must fulfill the following paternal obligations:
- The father must establish paternity. You can recognize him as the father, or if there is any uncertainty, he can take a paternity test.
- The father must file for custody. It’s best if you can come to an agreement on a custody plan. But you may need to bring this to court if you cannot come to a resolution, or if one parent is deemed unfit.
- The father must provide child support. If the father does not consent to adoption, he should show that he can financially support his child. That means he should provide you with financial support during your pregnancy. If the father does not provide child support, he may not be able to stop you from proceeding with the adoption. This depends on the laws in your state. Your Adoption Coordinator can get you connected to a knowledgeable adoption attorney for assistance.
The father of your baby may also have a time limit for stopping the adoption process. In some states, failure to act is the same as giving consent for the adoption. Consult with an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and the laws in your state.
What If I Can’t Locate the Father?
You may be able to give your baby up for adoption without the father’s consent if you cannot locate him. However, you need to be sure you can prove that you have made every effort to contact him first.
Do I Need Birth Father Consent if He’s Unfit to Parent?
If a court decides that the father is an unfit parent, you may be able to give your baby up for adoption without birth father consent. A court may come to that decision for the following reasons:
- If you are in an abusive relationship and the father is a threat to you
- If the father has a history of drug abuse
- If the father is a felon
- If the father does not have adequate housing
- If the father can’t hold down steady employment
Every situation is different, so speak to an attorney if any of these scenarios apply to you. We are not legal experts, and so this information does not constitute legal advice.
What Can I Do if the Father Won’t Consent to Adoption?
All this information may make you wonder, “Can a mother put a baby up for adoption without the father?” What should you do if he’s against the adoption?
It’s important to be honest with the father of your baby from the start. Let him know about your pregnancy in person or over the phone. If the situation is violent or dangerous, Lifetime Adoption can provide an attorney who will speak with him directly.
You may just need to give the father time to process this news. He may come around once he has had a chance to think about what this new future will look like.
The best way to help your baby’s father understand your desire to choose adoption is to involve him in the process. Speak with the adoption professional together. He might get on board once you talk to him about your options and he learns about what open adoption really is.
Fathers can be part of open adoption plans too. You can work together to select the perfect adoptive parents and decide on the amount of communication you wish to maintain after the baby is born. He can even have a separate relationship with the adoptive family if the two of you are no longer together. There is a good chance that once the father educates himself about open adoption, he will see what a selfless, loving choice adoption really is.
Speak one-on-one with an adoption professional at Lifetime, and get your adoption questions answered by
calling or texting us at 1-800-923-6784.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 2, 2020, and has since been updated.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.