Dear Mardie, We are talking to a potential birth mother but she said that the father of the baby wants his mother to raise the baby. The birth mother does not agree with this. Is this a situation we should move forward with?
First and foremost, always remember that the birth father has parental rights. In most states they are equal to the birth mother’s rights, however always speak with an attorney.
In your situation, it is difficult because the birth parents are not in agreement about adoption and a parenting plan. Because it sounds as though the birth father is involved, it isn’t as simple as the birth mother making a decision for adoption and moving forward without him. They both have rights, they both need to find some sort of common ground.
Many times, a birth father may think that because a woman wants adoption for her child, he can say “No, I don’t agree,” and then he gets custody of the baby. That isn’t how it works. The situation usually reverts to one as if adoption had never been considered. The baby can go home with the mother, and the father can sue for custody if he desires. He is, of course, obligated to pay child support.
In your specific situation, or any that are similar, I would suggest the following:
Encourage the Birth Mother to Talk Directly with Birth Father
Many times, birth mothers may not want to talk to the father, especially if he is not supporting her or if their relationship has ended poorly. A conversation now will save much heartache. A simple statement like, “I will not allow your mother to raise my child,” expresses her desires. Similarly, encouraging that his responsibility is to pay support, for eighteen years, and if he wants visitation or custody, he will have to hire an attorney and fight for it.
Acknowledging that the Father Has Rights
Many men feel disregarded or like their opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to an adoption plan. When a woman includes him in the choice of adoptive parents, allowing him to get to know them, and encouraging him to build a relationship with them, it can make all the difference. He just needs to know that he matters, he has a say, and his opinion can be considered.
Establish Open Communication
Let the birth mother know that you would like to talk to him and get to know him. Reassure him that you would like to keep in touch with him after the adoption. Let him hear from you the life you want to provide to his child. This will reinforce his importance and the sacrifice that he will also be making in allowing the adoption to proceed.
Prioritize Honesty Always
If the birth mother says “I just won’t list him on the birth certificate,” understand that this doesn’t solve the problem of a father that will not consent to the adoption. Similarly, if she denies she knows who he is, it is not a shortcut to adoption success. This is the time to get an attorney involved for counsel in the specific situation, under the laws of the states involved. This is not an issue you want to ignore.
Proceed cautiously, keeping the communication open and honest. Even if the birth mother says he is not a great guy, it does not diminish his parental rights. Keep gathering information and encouraging conversations. The more prepared you are, the more information you will have to share with an attorney to learn the options available to you and to the birth mother.