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Birth Father Rights in Washington, D.C.

Adoption With or Without His Parental Consent in D.C.

Can a child be adopted without the father’s consent in Washington, D.C.? Is adoption in the District of Columbia possible without knowing who the father is? Does the father have to give consent for adoption in D.C.?

If you’re pregnant and have found yourself wondering any of the above questions, it’s natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Most of the time, when a woman is considering adoption, it’s because she was not planning to become pregnant. An unplanned pregnancy is a stressor in itself, and feeling unsure of your child’s father’s opinion about adoption — or feeling unsure of who your child’s father is — only adds to that feeling. For many women, an unsupportive or unknown birth father increases their desire to consider adoption for their child, and that’s completely okay.

If you are wondering about the logistics of pursuing adoption without parental consent in Washington, D.C., this article outlines what the area’s adoption laws have to say on the subject. Please know, though, that this article does not serve as legal advice. If you have questions about how District of Columbia birth father rights apply in your individual situation, you should speak with an adoption attorney and/or a licensed social worker. Please feel free to reach out to American Adoptions any time at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more.

What is the legal definition of a father in Washington, D.C.?

D.C. birth father laws name a man as the presumed father of a child if:

  • He and the child’s mother are or were married or in a domestic partnership at either the child’s conception or birth or between the conception and birth, and the child was born during the relationship or within 300 days of its termination.

  • Before the child’s birth, the man and the child’s mother have married or attempted to marry (even if that marriage could be declared void), and the child is born during that marriage or within 300 days of its termination.

  • After a child is born, he and the child’s mother marry (or attempt to marry) and he has acknowledged the child as his.

  • The man has acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing.

The presumption that a man is a child’s father can be overcome by clear evidence that he is not the child’s genetic parent. The court will try the question of paternity and may determine that the presumed father is not the child’s parent after giving consideration to:

  • Whether or not his conduct should preclude that party from denying parentage

  • The child’s best interests

  • The duration and stability of the relationship between the child, the mother, and the presumed father

Does Washington, D.C. have a paternity registry?

Yes. A paternity registry, or a putative father registry, is a system run by the District of Columbia in order for men to voluntarily claim paternity of children born outside of marriage. Every hospital with a birthing center in D.C. has a program that provides each unmarried woman who gives birth there — as well as the alleged father, if he’s there — with the following:

  • Written materials concerning the establishment of paternity

  • The necessary forms for a man to voluntarily acknowledge paternity

  • Both a written and an oral description of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities that come with voluntarily acknowledging paternity

  • Written notice that a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is not effective unless the putative father and mother each sign under oath and a notary is present

  • The opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge paternity in the hospital

Are there other ways to establish paternity in Washington, D.C.?

Yes. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity will:

  • Create a conclusive paternity relationship that will be serve as admissible evidence of paternity

  • Be recognized as a basis for child support obligation without requiring any further proceedings

Paternity of a child may also be established by:

  • A written statement from the father and mother signed under oath that acknowledges the father’s paternity

  • A result and an affidavit from a laboratory that performed a genetic test which determined that the putative father has at least a 99 percent chance of being the biological father of a child

What information is necessary to establish paternity in Washington, D.C.?

As per the D.C. birth father laws, a paternity acknowledgment must include:

  • The mother, father and child’s full names, social security numbers, and birth dates

  • The mother’s and father’s addresses

  • The child’s birthplace

  • An explanation of the legal consequences of the acknowledgment

  • A statement confirming that both parents understand their rights, responsibilities, consequences of, and alternatives to signing the acknowledgment

  • The place the acknowledgment was completed

  • Signature lines for both parents

Is it possible to revoke a paternity claim?

Yes. A man who has signed a voluntary paternity acknowledgment can rescind his acknowledgment within either 60 days or the date of a proceeding regarding the child, whichever comes first.

So, in Washington, D.C., to put a baby up for adoption, does the dad need to agree?

In most cases, yes. If the District of Columbia birth father laws determine that a man is the father of a child, he will most likely have a birth father’s rights in adoption in D.C. However, it’s extremely important to understand that all birth father situations are handled on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. There may be situations where adoption without consent in the District of Columbia is possible, but it is extremely important to talk to your adoption specialist and adoption attorney before attempting to pursue an adoption without consent in D.C.

To learn more about Washington, D.C. birth father rights in adoption, please contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION. 

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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