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Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent

Most people will agree that the concept of family is practically incomparable with anything else? It has been a simple yet complex component of human culture for thousands of years. Socially, family is one of the biggest forms of motivation for humans worldwide as they journey in life, sometimes pushing them to take the most daring and audacious steps. Family is that one bond rarely created by any agreement yet recognized by everyone, both socially and legally. It is delicate; therefore, it follows that issues relating to family are equally sensitive and should be treated accordingly.

Adoption is one of these issues. Like other family-related issues, the law tries as much as possible to address questions relevant to adoption and adoption processes by creating legally required guidelines to be complied with. Regarding child adoption, the focus here is on placing a child for adoption without the father’s consent. Many people have their own opinions when it comes to such circumstances. However, addressing the issue is determined by rules and regulations rather than opinions. So, let’s proceed to determine if, when, and how a child can be put up for adoption by its birth mother without the consent of the birth father. In other words, can a mother put a baby up for adoption without the father consenting? How to get adopted without parental permission?

What Are the Father’s Rights and Responsibilities?

Naturally, fathers are important to the growth and development of children, but when the question of giving the baby up for adoption without father’s consent arises, many people assume that both parents should have the same rights in making such a decision. However, it is important to ask some basic questions and consult relevant laws before making assumptions. For example, are there any birth-father rights when it comes to adoption? What if the father refuses? If the father decides to bring legal action, what is the fate of the entire adoption process and the mother?

Also read:Contested Adoption: Important Things to Know

Bringing a new member into your family is a beautiful process. Families who choose to adopt provide an opportunity for love and family...

The first thing to remember is that, when it comes to the birth and parenthood of a child, circumstances differ. Thankfully, the law also recognizes this in determining the rights of a father in adopting a child. Amazingly, the definition of “father” or “parent” varies according to state law. In the majority of states, a “legal father” must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  1. The man was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth;
  2. The child was born not more than 300 days after the end of the marriage;
  3. The birth father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate; or
  4. The man has confirmed in writing that he is the father.

If a baby’s father meets any of these qualifications, his approval for adoption is almost certainly required. There are always exceptions, however, and each circumstance is unique. A “legal father” is defined by the laws of the state involved, and a legal father must consent to a baby’s adoption.

If the legal father refuses to consent to the adoption, there may be alternative ways to terminate his rights, allowing a mother to still place her child for adoption without the approval of the father. 

What If I Can’t Locate the Father?

Some mothers find themselves in situations where the birth father is unavailable or difficult to locate. In these cases, it is legal in some states to adopt a child without the father’s consent or awareness.

To safeguard a father’s parental rights in the event of an unknown birth father, many states require fathers to sign up for a “putative father registration.” If he does not register, an adoption attorney may proceed with the adoption processes and be exempted from providing him with notice of the adoption.

However, in these states, there are still some situations when a mother can pursue an adoption plan without the father’s consent. Some of these circumstances are listed below:

  1. The father does not sign up for the Putative Father Registry;
  2. During the pregnancy, the father did not provide financial support; or
  3. The father has not established his paternity to the child as legally required, and all reasonable efforts to find him have been made.

However, some states still have peculiar legal requirements, depending on the situation. Therefore, mothers who cannot locate their children’s birth fathers can still seek the advice of experienced attorneys to determine whether they can proceed without the birth father’s consent. 

What Can I Do if the Father Won’t Consent to Adoption?

Сan you get adopted without parental consent? Adoption without the father’s consent becomes more difficult in cases where a father expressly refuses to consent to the adoption of his child. The case becomes even more challenging if the father has the legal right to refuse the adoption. 

Can the child still be adopted without the father’s consent? The general answer is no—not immediately, at least. When a father refuses to consent to give up his birth father rights and contests the process, a contested hearing is usually held. 

In a standard adoption, the birth mother makes an adoption plan, which includes choosing the adoptive parents. After birth, the baby goes to live with the adoptive family. The court takes care of certain steps, including granting custody to the adoptive family and terminating the birth parents’ rights. However, this process differs depending on the state. If the infant’s biological father decides that he wants to parent the child himself, he has the legal right to contest the adoption in court, halting the proceedings and moving forward with a contested adoption hearing.

After the hearing, the court can rule for the biological father, in which case, the adoption process stops. However, if the court decides to rule in favor of the adoptive parents, then the next step may be one of the following:

  1. Dismiss the birth father’s petition; or
  2. Schedule another hearing, known as the “best interest” hearing.

The best interest hearing is simply for the court to examine the situation and decide how to put kid up for adoption and what is in the best interest of the child. The court assesses who can provide the baby with a childhood full of stability, permanence, and quality. Then the decision is made.

Adoption Options Without Father’s Consent

Where the legal father of the child is clear, in accordance with the state’s laws, his consent is needed before the adoption goes through. In this case, the state needs full parental consent, not just the mother’s. Therefore, it is always better for the mother to keep the father informed of her plans for the birth of the baby. However, there are certain circumstances that can have exceptions that allow the adoption to proceed without the father’s consent.

If the father’s identity or location is unknown, the first step is to contact the child’s mother. A state’s putative (presumed) father registration or printed notices for the father to inspect may be used by an adoption expert in cases where the name or location of the father is not known. If the father is found and informed but does not agree to the adoption immediately, he may rethink his decision if he learns more about the adoptive family or the other methods of adoption available (open, semi-open, semi-closed, closed).

Many states do not compel a pregnant mother to notify the father or potential father when she has reason to be afraid for her safety. In such cases, proceeding with the adoption process is a valid option available to her. Also, in some states, a father has a limited amount of time after learning of an adoption plan to claim paternity and assert his parental rights.

In many cases, failure to act is simply interpreted as consent to the adoption. The father cannot later claim the paternity of the child after the completion of the adoption process. If the father refuses to relinquish his parental rights, a judge may still be able to terminate those rights if the father is declared incompetent to parent.

Mothers in this situation should consider seeking advice from a lawyer to learn about their options. In the United States in general, the father has the right to participate in the adoption process if possible, but specific adoption laws vary depending on the state in which the mother resides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put a child up for adoption without the father’s consent?

This heavily depends on the status of the father—legal, absent, putative, etc.—and the adoption laws of the state. There are many resources available for learning how to put a kid up for adoption, with or without the father’s consent.

Can another man adopt my child?

Generally, yes. As the legal father of a child, your consent as well as the mother’s relinquishment of parental rights, transfers parental rights and child custody to the adoptive parent or parents. 

How long does it take for an adoption to be finalized?

Several factors must be considered. First, if no one contests the adoption, the process can be relatively brief. Adoption finalization can look different depending on the type of adoption. The process can take anywhere from nine to 18 months or longer, and it is sometimes shorter. Because each scenario is unique, everything depends on the individual circumstances of the case. Some factors include the country from which parents choose to adopt, the state in which the parents live, how qualified the adoptive parents are to adopt (in the eyes of the law), how quickly the parties complete the adoption paperwork and the legal status of the child being adopted. A problem in any of these areas can delay adoption completion by a few weeks to a few months.

Do you need legal assistance?Find the right lawyer in your area.


Thanks to different state laws, the required process for adoption in each state is clearly defined, making it easy for both birth parents and adoptive families to comply. In many states, it is often clear who should consent to adoption processes, including the legal father. Many circumstances can allow for the adoption of children without the consent of the biological father. It is important, however, for mothers to know that the ultimate aim is to protect the child and ensure that he or she will live a stable, healthy life. Parents should, therefore, always consider seeking legal advice before making adoption plans, no matter how urgent the situation may seem.

Article by Sofi Ostymchuk

Sofi Ostymchuk was a Content Lead and Legal Writer at Lawrina. Sofi managed the content on the blog, communicated with contributors, looked for interesting topics, and created articles in cooperation with lawyers and law experts.

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