The result of one father's 6-year custody battle is a bill introduced by one of the members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys that would allow an adoption of a child without the father's consent. What many people don't know is that Missouri law requires an unmarried father to declare paternity of a child within 15 days of that child's birth. But what about fathers who are not informed of a partners pregnancy or their pending fatherhood in a timely manner?
The custody battle that spurred adoption attorneys to propose this bill involves a man who was awaiting the results of a DNA paternity test before placing his name as the father on the child's birth certificate. More than 15 days had passed so the mother was allowed to place the child up for adoption, which she did. The child had been placed temporarily with a couple who filed a petition to transfer custody and proceed with the adoption of the child. That petition stated the father was unknown and the mother agreed to the adoption.
Once the father was notified of the adoption, he filed with the state's putative father registry and had the child's birth certificate amended naming him as the father. He then intervened in the adoption and the 6-year custody dispute ensued. The father ultimately won custody of his child just last summer.
The author of the bill threatening some fathers' rights claims she just wants to clarify to the courts when a child is available for a legal adoption by spelling out when a father has not protected his parental rights. But one Missouri lawmaker, who strongly opposes the bill, said the bill is biased against men and would deprive a man of the right to be a father as well as relinquish him from his child support duties. Parents should always have a right to their child before anyone else can assume custody and parental rights to that child, he said.
Another critic of the bill claims it restricts the constitutional rights of the father-child relationship, and that the language needs to be changed to reflect a broader spectrum of who can thwart a father's parental rights. The bill passed the House by a wide margin of 126 to 15, was read in the Missouri State Senate and is being considered by the Senate's Health Committee.
Source: CBS St. Louis, "Fathers of Illegitimate Children Would Lose Rights to Adoption," Josie Butler, April 10, 2012