Putative Fathers

Many adoptees are the children of single women who may not even know the fathers’ identity. Sometimes, birth fathers may wish to exercise their rights to claim their children. Unwed, or “putative” fathers can establish certain rights thanks to changes in state laws since the 1970s. That said, a putative father needs to prove that he has actually earned these rights. Putative fathers have to prove their commitment to their children by having signed the birth certificate, provided support for the child, and communicated with him or her, and by having obtained a court order establishing paternity. They should also have submitted their names to a registry of putative fathers in their states. Moreover, in most cases all of these steps need to have been taken before a birth mother has made a petition to the court to give up her child for adoption. Court cases involving putative fathers who tried to revoke adoptions after claiming they knew nothing of their children’s births have resulted in many states clarifying their laws. Putative fathers may have the law on their side, but again, only if they can prove they are truly concerned for their children’s welfare.

Inside Putative Fathers