Birth Father’s Roles and Responsibilities in Adoption
Last week, we started the month of June with an article about birth fathers and open adoption. Throughout June, we will continue the theme of ‘fathers and adoption.’ This week, we’ll address a more general question: what are the birth father’s roles and responsibilities in adoption?
The Role of the Birth Father
Birth fathers can get a bad rap. The way mass media has portrayed birth fathers in the past has caused the collective idea that birth fathers are “troublesome, uncaring, obstructionist, irresponsible, or worse,” rather than caring so much that they want to give their baby the best chance by placing them for adoption. Birth mothers have faced similar stereotypes, but because birth fathers have more ability to not be involved in the adoption process or may not be known in every case, birth fathers have additional stereotypes such as negligence or the ‘dead-beat dad’ stereotypes. In addition, there is less research and sharing of birth father stories to combat these narratives. This perpetuates the idea that birth fathers are absent or uncaring.
But reality is very different from media stereotypes. Birth fathers have strong and complex emotional reactions to adoption, just as any other member of the adoption triad. They can feel guilt and shame, love and pride, grief and joy, all at the same time. Adoption can be a difficult decision to make, and that’s no different for the birth father.
Birth fathers can choose how they react to the decision to place his baby for adoption in a number of ways. When the birth mother decides she wants to consider adoption, the birth father can choose whether or not to support the decision, and whether or not to be involved in the baby’s life.
Choosing not to support and not being a part of the baby’s life is where the stereotypes we’ve seen in the media come from. Choosing not to support the adoption and wanting to play a part in the baby’s life is when the birth father would need to look into the legal rights of getting custody of the child. If this is the sort of advice you are looking for, you can consult with one of our in-house adoption lawyers.
Choosing to support the miracle of adoption, whether or not the birth father decides to take an active role in the child’s life, in itself is an act of love made from wanting what is best for the baby. Though it can be confusing and cause conflicting emotions, placing a baby for adoption is not shirking one’s responsibility as a parent, it is making a choice to be responsible in a different way. So what are the responsibilities a birth father faces when it comes to adoption?
Responsibilities of the Birth Father
After choosing to support the adoption, the birth father still has options in front of him. How much does he want to be involved in the adoption process? How much does he want to be involved in the baby’s life after adoption.
In supporting the adoption, the birth father should support the birth mother through the pregnancy and adoption process. For example, this means working with the birth mother to make the adoption plan. There are several different types of adoptions that would require different levels of support, and the birth father can help the birth mother pick which type of adoption works best for them.
In a closed adoption, the adoption is completely anonymous. The birth parents do not know who the adoptive parents are and vice versa. For this kind of adoption, the support the birth father can give to the birth mother would be limited to emotional and financial support, as planning for the adoption (which family the baby is placed with and other such details) would be done through the adoption agency. While closed adoptions used to be the norm, as of eight years ago, 95% of adoptions have at least some degree of openness. This trend is for good reason, as there are a number of benefits to open adoptions.
In a semi-open adoption, the birth parents may have contact with the adoptive parents and adoptee through the adoption agency. When planning for a semi-open adoption, the birth parents can have choice in the family they place their baby with. The birth father in this case can help the birth mother make these decisions. Together, the birth father and birth mother can come up with a list of what is important to them when placing their baby and questions they want to ask potential adoptive parents. With a semi-open adoption agreement, the birth father can contact the adoptee through the adoption agency, and the adoptee can contact him as well.
The last kind of adoption, an open adoption, was discussed in-depth in last week’s post, but we’ll cover the very basics here. In an open adoption, not only is there choice in the family and contact through the adoption agency, the birth parents can take on an active role in the adoptee’s life as they grow up. In this adoption arrangement, the birth father can come to an agreement with the adoptive parents on how much responsibility and involvement in the adoptee’s life everyone is comfortable with. Adoption Choices of New York encourages all birth parents to consider open adoption.
Birth Father’s Roles and Responsibilities in Adoption
Though having an unplanned pregnancy can be a scary thing. It can be emotional and confusing to know what you should do. There are many paths your adoption journey could take you on. But no one has to go through it alone. The right adoption agency can help you navigate through each step in the adoption process and provide support and direction for all family members affected by adoption.
Meet the Author: Darby Summers is an avid fan of fantasy and sci-fi stories in all mediums, and aspires to share a story of her own to add to the genres she has adored her entire life. Raised in a house with the rule: “you can stay up as late as you want, as long as you’re reading,” Darby’s passion for reading, literature, and language was inspired at a young age, and continued through her achievement of a Bachelor’s in English from Allegheny College in 2017. Darby is currently writing blog posts for Adoption Choices of New York, and is enjoying the opportunity to be part of helping families find each other and a source of information and support throughout what can be a very difficult time in life.
When she isn’t absorbed in the latest series to capture her attention, Darby enjoys working on cosplays and going to cons with friends. Her perfect night consists of staying in playing games (of the video, board or card varieties), making some delicious homemade pizza, and settling in on the couch for a movie with her husband, Adam, and cat, Sylvie.