The Rights of Presumed Fathers and Putative Father Registries
Historically unwed (putative) fathers have had very few rights regarding their infant children and birthmothers have been in the driver’s seat in terms of making all of the decisions about potential adoptions, upbringing and care of children born out of wedlock. The U.S. Supreme court has affirmed constitutional protection for putative fathers (Stanley v Illinois, 1972) when they have established a substantial relationship to the child and defined that relationship as a biological link between child and father evidenced by the father’s commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood and participation in the child’s upbringing.
States have consistently had substantial discretion to determine what rights putative fathers have. Thirty states have established Putative Father Registries with the understood purpose of giving fathers an opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge their paternity. This acknowledgement provides fathers with the right to receive notice of court proceedings regarding their child including petitions for adoption or actions to terminate their parental rights. Fathers who do not strictly comply with the laws of their state will almost certainly no have opportunity to participate in the care and upbringing of their child.
Adoption Agency Participation and History:
While most adoption professionals do include birthfathers in the adoption process, recent cases reveal that some adoption agencies, practitioners and attorneys advise birthmothers to leave adoption forms blank or refrain from answering critically important questions relating to birthfathers. They may also encourage birthmothers to hide the birth of the child, secretly place the child for adoption and claim they have no knowledge of the birthfather, resulting in the termination of the rights of birthfathers without their consent or knowledge. Another paramount obstacle for birthfathers is the fact that children are often placed for adoption across state lines with almost no success in securing their return to the state of birth. This has been the case even when birthfathers have been awarded custody by a court of law in their own state.
The goal of our organization is to assist responsible birthfathers by enacting ethical and lawful adoption reform in the State of Idaho and to educate them about their rights and responsibilities regarding their biological children. Crucial to this education is an understanding of all Idaho State adoption statutes and the Idaho Putative Father Registry. Read them carefully so that you are aware of your responsibilities and rights.
Key Idaho State Adoption statutes are:
16-1501A – Rights & Responsibilities of Parties in Adoption Proceedings
16-1504 – Necessary Consent to Adoption
16-1505 – Notice of Adoption Proceedings
Step by Step Instructions:
- Register with the PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRY in your home state before the birth of the child and commence proceedings to establish paternity. Download the form (above) complete, notarize and mail it to the address listed on the form. Make a copy for your records prior to mailing. They will mail a copy of the form back to you with receipt date & date your name was added to registry.
- Register with the Putative Father Registry in the home state of the birthmother and any state she may have moved to during her pregnancy.
- Register in the state of Utah. Many birthmothers travel to other states to deliver their children and Utah's laws are specifically written to target and prevent out-of-state unwed birthfather's attempts to gain custody of their children.
- Seek counsel from an ethical family law attorney as soon as possible in order to commence proceedings to establish paternity and to protect your rights and interests.
Utah Putative Father Registry: Utah Code Ann. 78-30-4.14(2)(b)(ii-iii)
Obtain from and return form to:
State of Utah
Department of Health
Office of Public Health Data
Bureau of Vital Records
288 North 1460 West
P.O. Box 141012
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-1012
Tel: 1-801-538-6380 and 1-800-538-6363, Notarization is required. Note: The form is actually a "Notice of commencement of paternity proceeding," but the statute functions like a putative father registry statuted.
Please visit ErikSmith.org for a complete list of all Putative Father Registry state links.