Can you Have an Adoption Without Parental Consent in Maine?
Looking at the Birth Father’s Rights in the Adoption Process
Deciding whether or not to place your baby for adoption in Maine is hard. This choice will have long-lasting effects, and there are so many different factors to consider. If you’re an expectant mother considering adoption, you have to do what is best for you and the child.
But what happens if what’s best for you isn’t what the birth father wants? Does the father have to give consent for adoption in Maine? What about adoption when the father is unknown, uninvolved or unsupportive?
To get more information about how birth father rights in Maine may affect your adoption, reach out to an adoption specialist today.
The nature of the relationship between the birth father and your adoption decision can be complicated. It’s normal to have a lot of questions about this. As you consider placing your baby for adoption in Maine, we’ll go over a few of the state’s laws concerning birth father rights.
Before we do that, there are two important things for you to keep in mind. First, this is your decision. You need to do what is best for you. Second, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION today to speak to an adoption specialist about your specific situation.
Because of how complex this issue is, it usually comes down to a case-by-case basis, and this article should not be taken as legal advice.
What is a ‘Putative’ Father?
First, a quick definition of a legal term you are likely to hear. A “putative father” is a man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established but who is alleged to be, or claims to be, the biological father. The relationship can be officially established with DNA testing, although it is not necessary in many situations to know for sure who the birth father is.
What are the rights of a birth father? Can you have an adoption without parental consent in Maine?
While the choice to consent to adoption is primarily the right of the birth mother, there are some protections in Maine law for the putative father to consent as well. As we said before, the laws surrounding birth fathers are very complex and best understood on a case-by-case basis.
The general overview given here will hopefully help you gain a better understanding of what might be involved in your adoption plan, but it must be understood that your situation will be unique and need specific interpretation of the law.
In general, Maine law states that a putative father must be at least notified of the mother’s decision to adopt if his information and whereabouts are known. How the father is notified of the mother’s decision is based on the discretion of the judge in each individual case.
Once a putative father is notified of the mother’s decision, he can waive his parental rights in a document acknowledged before a notary or judge. If he does this, the process can proceed for adoption without consent of the father.
However, Maine law does allow a window of time for a putative father to attempt to establish parental rights to a child. If the father wants to petition for parental rights, he has a 20-day time frame after being notified of the mother’s decision to file his petition. If a petition is filed, it will be up to a judge to hear the case and make a decision.
If the 20-day window has passed and a petition has not been filed, Maine law states that, “the judge shall rule the putative father has no parental rights and that only the biological mother of the child need consent to adoption or a surrender and release.”
What type of relationship will the birth father have to the adoption?
“Can a child be adopted without the father’s consent in Maine?”
We hear this question all the time. If you are in a situation with an unsupportive birth father, you are not alone. American Adoptions works with adoption attorneys across the country who, depending on the situation, may be able to help you choose adoption even without the birth father’s consent.
The relationship of the birth father to your adoption plan can vary significantly. However, there are three basic categories we see birth fathers fall into.
Unknown Father or Out of the Picture
It is okay if you don’t know who the birth father is. American Adoptions has worked with many women who are unaware or unsure of who the birth father is. Maine does not have a Putative Father Registry, but their adoption law does have a provision for this.
If you are unsure who the birth father is, the court may decide to order a publication in a local newspaper or other media in search of the father. This action is not always required and is solely up to the discretion of the judge.
Maybe you do know who the birth father is, but you also know he will not be supportive of your adoption plan. If this is the case, the birth father has the opportunity to petition for parental rights and assume responsibility of the child, according to Maine law. His petition is not guaranteed to be successful, but he does have the right to submit it.
Another scenario with an unsupportive birth father could be his preference for abortion instead of adoption. If this is the situation you find yourself in, never forget that your baby’s future is your decision. An unsupportive birth father may view abortion as his easy way out, but it is your body and your decision. The birth father can never legally force you to receive an abortion.
As an expectant mother in this situation, it is your right to decline to speak to the birth father. If that is the case, you should direct the birth father’s communications to your attorneys or American Adoptions. In situations like this, it is best to let an adoption attorney investigate and determine the best path forward.
Many birth mothers who have worked with American Adoptions are in healthy, supportive situations with the child’s birth father. This is the ideal situation for an adoption. Having a partner to lean on through the process can make a big difference, and American Adoptions is happy to work with both of you to develop your adoption plan.
Questions about birth father rights in Maine are complex and highly specific for every individual situation. Hopefully, you feel more educated and prepared to ask those questions for your situation now that you’ve read this.
If you would like to speak with an adoption specialist to learn more about giving a baby up for adoption without the father’s consent in Maine, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION today.
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