Surrendering baby for adoption in CA without father's "consent"
February 5, 2019 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Unmarried 21F eight months pregnant wants to give baby up for adoption. Uninvolved father won't "consent" to the process...what now?

A 21-year-old woman in Southern CA is 8 months pregnant. She is not married to the father and parted ways with him two months ago. She now wishes to surrender the baby for adoption once it is born in March. However, the father is "not consenting" but also refusing to care for the child or provide any sort of financial child support.

The young woman does not have resources to seek an attorney. What are her rights in this situation and what options does she have going forward?

Thanks to all for any clear guidance during this extremely difficult time.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The /r/LegalAdvice subreddit might be a better venue, as long as you are OK with putting up with the usual reddit comment nonsense
posted by Dmenet at 11:20 AM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

she may be able to find a free or low cost family lawyer through law help california.
posted by koroshiya at 11:22 AM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

She likely can initiate safely surrender baby procedures. There is a hotline she can call in that link.

I think from my experience in IL DCFS or equivalent will try to contract father first, and when he refuses take custody move towards adoption. Call the hotline first though.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:24 AM on February 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

The hospital where she gives birth should be able to guide her through this as well. She does not have to leave with the baby to surrender it.

These events are rare, but they do happen and there is a procedure . She should talk to her OB about her plans now.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:28 AM on February 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

As an adoptive parent, I strongly suspect that any reputable adoption agency she contacts will help her navigate this. They will know what is required with regard to notifying the birthfather about the pending adoption, and what constitutes his de facto surrender of rights (our adoption took place in Illinois, and the birthfather had a limited period of time after the birth to initiate action if he wanted to assert his parental rights). If she is interested in matching with a birth family prior to the birth, the law probably allows that family to pay certain of her expenses, but even if that happens, she is free to change her mind if she decides to parent. Laws vary from state to state, but helping pregnant women navigate this system is what adoption agencies do, and all costs are borne by adoptive families.
posted by Orlop at 11:32 AM on February 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Has she talked to anyone at an adoption agency? They can provide counselling, legal, and financial resources for birth families. When I was researching adoption agencies my impression has been that Adoption Connection run by Jewish Family and Childen's Services has excellent reviews from birth families but I don't have personal experience with their program.

The long and the short of it is that the birth father doesn't get to refuse financial support if your friend ends up keeping the baby. She may not need a lawyer to file for child support.
posted by muddgirl at 11:38 AM on February 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

I am not sure about California, but I have an adopted daughter and this came up in our process here in FL. For the father to stop the adoption, he has to prove he has a safe, stable living environment as well as prove he can both financially support mom AND baby. In most cases, fathers in this situation do not meet these requirements. If the agency can boast a clear case that the child will be better provided for by the adopted family, the state grants it. An agency would help with this.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

However, the father is "not consenting" but also refusing to care for the child or provide any sort of financial child support.

A lawyer can better help your friend navigate this, but his refusal to support the child has absolutely no bearing on what he's legally responsible for.
posted by Aleyn at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

I have worked with the law offices of David Radis, who is a well-known adoption attorney in Southern California (phone: 800-637-2882). She does not need to have any resources to call them or for them to work with her (in an adoption situation, expenses are paid by the family who adopts the baby. This includes all legal and medical expenses, and in many cases some living expenses before/after delivery)

They will know exactly how to handle the non-consenting father. It is not an unusual circumstance.
posted by toxic at 12:44 PM on February 5, 2019 [21 favorites]

My info is a little old and not CA specific, but in order to be considered the father, I believe he must acknowledge his paternity at the time of birth and/or legally on the birth certificate. See here (NOLO) for some details. There are pros and cons for the baby and the mother to naming or not naming a father. But my thought is if she doesn't pursue paternity and he doesn't either, then he's random guy who has to prove it in order to have any say about it. It's possible to amend paternity after the fact, but if she essentially puts the onus on him to sort it out, perhaps that will deter him?
posted by cocoagirl at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

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