Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent

Updated January 16, 2024
10 min read
Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent


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. The law tries as much as possible to address questions relevant to adoption processes by creating legally required guidelines to be complied with. However, can a child be adopted without the father consent? Many people have their own opinions when it comes to such circumstances. Still, addressing the issue is determined by rules and regulations rather than opinions. So, let's discuss, “When and how can someone adopt a child without father's consent?”

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?

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. The definitions of "father" or "parent" vary according to state law. In the majority of states, to be a "legal father," one must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • The man was married to the child's mother at the time of the child's birth;

  • The child was born not more than 300 days after the end of the marriage;

  • The birth father's name is on the child's birth certificate; or

  • 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.

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, 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 process and just provide the father with a 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. 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. 


Summing up, can you adopt a child without the father's consent? Thanks to different state laws, the process for adoption in each state is clearly defined, which makes it easy for both birth parents and adoptive families to comply.

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
Yevheniia Savchenko

Yevheniia Savchenko is a Product Content Manager at Lawrina. Yevheniia creates user interface copies for Lawrina products, writes release notes, and helps customers get the best user experience from all Lawrina products. Also, Yevheniia is in charge of creating helpful content on legal template pages (Lawrina Templates) and up-to-date information on US law (Lawrina Guides). In her spare time, Yevheniia takes up swimming, travels, and goes for a walk in her home city.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the product or UX content for Lawrina, feel free to contact Yevheniia directly at or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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. Some factors impacting it 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.