A Father’s Right to Contest an Adoption
There are countless reasons that parents may consider putting their child up for adoption. In most cases, they believe that doing so will give their child a much better opportunity at a happy, healthy life. A large percentage of adoptions in Illinois involve single mothers who feel that they are not able to provide properly for their child. The choice of a single mother to make her child available for adoption is, undoubtedly, a difficult one, but what about that child’s father? Does he have any say in the process?
Your Rights as a Legal Father
If you are the legally-recognized father of a child that is being placed for adoption, the proceedings may not continue without your consent. In most cases, you must be willing to voluntarily terminate your parental rights. It is possible for your parental rights to terminated against your will, but only if you are found to by the court to be an unfit parent. Grounds for such a finding include abandonment of the child, failure to maintain interest, concern or responsibility, neglect, repeated physical or emotional abuse, substance abuse, and other negative behaviors.
Putative Father Registry
In any adoption proceeding, the mother should make every effort to identify the father of the child. Such identification does not necessarily have legal implications, but before a child can be adopted, the state or applicable agency will attempt to locate the father and to give him the opportunity to contest the adoption. If you believe you are the father of a child who may be placed for adoption but have not established legal paternity, you may wish to register with the Illinois Putative Father Registry.
The Putative Father Registry is your first step in exercising the rights you may have as the child’s father. You must register before the child is 30 days old or the court may determine that you have waived your rights by inaction and the adoption may be permitted to continue without your consent. If you decide to contest the adoption, you should be prepared to take on the full responsibility of being the child’s father. While you may ultimately proceed to establish your legal paternity, and eventually seek parenting time and responsibilities, you may also be ordered to pay child support in the meantime.
Get the Help You Need
To learn more about your rights as a legal or putative father, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. We can help you fully understand the law, as well as your inherent responsibilities. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule a confidential consultation today.