When most people think of the adoption triad they think of the birth mother, the adoptive family and the child but there is a missing piece to this picture. Birth fathers may be the most overlooked individuals in the adoption process but it is important to remember that they have the same parental rights as the biological mother. Some birth fathers contest an adoption not because they actually want to parent the child, but because they are angry at being treated as if they didn’t exist. The open adoption process welcomes birth fathers and helps them to identify ways to stay involved in their child’s life.
Birth fathers needs and wishes need to be respected and discussed in order to create a plan that is inclusive of all parties. Many birth mothers simply assume that things will be easier if the birth father remains unnamed. The birth mother may not even be aware that the birth father has legal rights. She also may have personal reasons for counting him out.
No social worker, lawyer, or adoptive parent can force a birth mother to name the birth father if she is determined to keep him anonymous but it is always better to include all parties.
Along with having the same rights as birth mothers, birth fathers are also entitled to the same services and counseling as birthmothers and are encouraged to take advantage of them. There are many social obstacles for birth fathers to overcome when considering adoption. Many men believe that “real men keep their children” or that family and friends will think less of them for creating an adoption plan, but a responsible father is one that ensures that all of his child’s social, emotional and financial needs are met by whatever means are necessary. Deciding on adoption is not shameful but an honorable, difficult and loving choice.
By being involved in an open adoption plan and committing to an ongoing relationship with the child and the adoptive family, birth fathers are taking an active and important role in ensuring the well-being of their child. When children have little or no contact with their biological fathers, they tend to develop unrealistically strong feelings of love or hate for them – casting birth fathers as heroes or villains. The ongoing contact afforded by open adoption allows birth fathers to develop realistic and balanced relationships with their children.
Adoptive children want and deserve to know their birth fathers just as much as their birth mothers. Both birth parents provide critical keys to a child’s emotional security and his/her genetic history.