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Grew in my Heart: Through Adoption
Hi! I'm Sarah, mom of two beautiful boys, Isaac and Ezra. I am married the most amazing man, Joe. I am an adoption advocate, an adoptive mom and was featured on season 2 of Oxygen's, "I'm Having Their Baby" which tells the story of our first failed adoption match. In this series, I will focus on the trials and tribulations of adoption as well as all the amazing experiences we've had in the process. I had a million questions and never knew how to find the answers, so it was all live and learn. I hope to share my experience with you, whether you are considering adoption for yourself or you know someone who is, I want to make the once taboo subject something people aren't afraid to talk about. Adoption can be a roller coaster of fun and fear, come along for the ride on ours.
Birth Father Rights

Birth Father Rights

Sound Off

Sarah Baker | February 20, 2014 | 01:43 PM

A few days ago, on an adoption Facebook page, a moderator asked the question: "If you could change one adoption law, what would it be?". Wow, where would I start, how could I choose just one?!?!?! I went with a general answer of "federal adoption reform laws" and then added in a few examples of lowering/standardizing adoption fees and making birth father part of the process and not a burden. This spiraled out of control by people in the "anti-adoption camp". They accused me of saying that the birth father posed a burden to me getting my baby via adoption. This is NOT at all what I meant and luckily before I saw it a friend came to my rescue. Although the nay sayers still questioned my intent. So here it is…

In many states birth fathers have very little rights when it comes to the baby they helped create. Utah is the worst of all the states. Adoption agencies in Utah actually will pull expecting mothers from their home state to Utah and house them there (at the expense of the potential adoptive parents) to hide them away from birth fathers who are seen as someone that can interfere with the adoption plan. The right for these men to have a say in the adoption or parent their child is stripped of them. In states like mine, Ohio, things work a little differently, but recent proposed adoption laws seem to be getting more and more like Utah in my opinion.

When we matched with our first expecting mother, she lived in Indiana which is a state that allows expecting fathers to sign their rights to the child away prior to the birth. Although the father of the baby did so prior to birth, he later regretted it very much. This was a constant source of heartache and stress in our adoption match and was one of the reasons the match was not fruitful. With our second match, the one that resulted in the placement of our son, it was in Ohio and done differently. The expecting father had rights. He was involved. He was a part of the process and agreed 72 hours after birth, just like the mother. It's not always the case in Ohio though. Ohio has something called a Putative Father Registry. In Ohio a woman is not obligated to tell a man she has become pregnant. It is said to be the man's duty to inquire if a pregnancy resulted from intercourse. After birth in Ohio, a father has up to 30 days to register that he thinks he MAY be the father of a child born. This can disrupt the adoption and that's not what this blog is about… this blog is about the fact that he is not required to be notified or given any opportunity to fight for his child before birth. He has to KNOW the registry even exists in order to register. Did you know about this registry?

Ohio's new bill passed the House in January and it takes the ability for a father to register with the Putative Father Registry from 30 days down to 7 days. They are also stating that it "Establishes a pre-birth notification process modeled after the one used in Indiana to provide a mother the option to notify a putative father prior to giving birth". I'm sorry, but why is this a legal matter? The expecting mother CAN ALREADY NOTIFY him. What this is actually saying though is that now she can ask him to sign away his rights or be forced to sign away his rights by serving him a court order as they are able to do in Indiana and other states. Don't mistake the verbiage they are using in the bill for being pro-woman or pro-family. It solely serves the purpose of diminishing the man's role in the adoption process because agencies see him as an obstacle to overcome so they can place the baby in a paying clients hands.

As an adoptive mother, I am NOT ok with any form of coercion when it comes to becoming a mother. If a father is not involved in the adoption plan, I don't want it to be because he was tricked, manipulated or lied to. I am part of an adoption triad that is VERY open and is open with all family members. Not only are Ezra's birth parents involved regularly in his life, but extended family members as well. Adoption doesn't have to be ugly like these laws are trying to make it.

Here is more information on the Ohio Putative Father Registry Law: http://1grewinmyheart.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/birth-father-rights-sound-off/

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