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Birth Fathers' Rights

A presumed father maintains the same rights as the child's mother. Without consent, the adoption cannot take place unless parental rights are terminated. The procedure for termination of parental rights will vary from state to state, although almost all states have avenues which allow termination of parental rights due to abandonment and/or lack of support.

An alleged father is one who is not a presumed father and has no real putative relationship with the natural mother, but who, nevertheless, claims to be the child's biological father or is named as the child's biological father by the child's mother.

The alleged father is only entitled to written notice which alleges that he is or could be the natural father and that if he fails to bring an action for the purpose of declaring the existence of a father/child relationship within a stated period of time, (in most states, 30 days after receiving the notice) the adoption will proceed without further notice to him.

If neither the mother, the adoptive parents, attorney, or the Department of Social Services or other appropriate state agency can identify or locate the alleged father, the court in most states can terminate the alleged father's rights without notice.

In the situation where the identity of the alleged father is known but his whereabouts are unknown, the court will require a showing of reasonable efforts to locate the alleged father. This search usually includes a mailing to the father at his last known address, a review of Department of Motor Vehicle records, Voter Registration records, and possibly followed by communication to all persons identified with the alleged father's name and birth date. Naturally, if the father is located, he must be served with a notice alleging his paternity.

If the alleged birth father is found and he is cooperative, all he needs to do in most states is to sign a Waiver before a Notary, indicating his willingness to allow the adoption to proceed without further notice to him. The alleged birth father can also be cooperative by not claiming parental rights within the time period allotted by the jurisdiction after being served, thereby allowing the court to proceed without the necessity of his consent.

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