Critical Importance of a State’s Putative Father Registry

This guest post is from 3L and current Family Law student Joy Degenhart:

Many states today require that some form of sex education be taught in the public school system. What is taught ranges from general HIV awareness to actual information about abstinence, pregnancy, and abortions. What most states, specifically Missouri, fail to teach their middle school and high school students is that unwed fathers do not have any parental rights without a court order.  Furthermore, they fail to teach their students that if a young man engages in sex and a child is conceived, that child can still be placed for adoption without the father's consent.  Regardless of whether the man knew that a child was conceived, most states require that a father register on their Putative Father Registry in order to retain the right to be informed of an adoption proceeding concerning his child.

Chris Reynolds is a man who was aware that his child was conceived and a man who actually lived with the mother of his child for 8 years, however, he was not informed during his high school education that the mother of his child could place their child up for adoption and that he would not have any right to notification or to stop the proceedings. Chis Reynolds failed to register with the Missouri Putative Father Registry and therefore lost any right to stop his child from being adopted. He has not seen his daughter in over a year despite knowing where she is and where her mother is.  In fact, a court granted an adoption petition without Chris' consent. This might sound like a nightmare, however, unfortunately it is reality for many young men who are not informed of their state's laws concerning fathers of children born out of marriage.

States should educate school age men and women equally, which should include all necessary information to make informed decisions regarding parenting concerns. Young women are educated about their right to an abortion and local nonprofit pregnancy centers walk them through the pregnancy process, yet young men on the other hand are not informed that if they engage in sex, regardless of their knowledge that a child is conceived, it is their responsibility to register with a Putative Father Registry if they desire to retain any parental rights concerning that child.

To read more about Chris Reynold's story go to: http://5newsonline.com/2016/01/27/missouri-father-calls-daughters-adoption-legal-kidnapping/

To learn more about your state's Putative Father Registry requirements go to: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/aaaa/birth-parents/putative-father-registry

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