Birth Father’s Rights in Adoption

Birth Father’s Rights and Responsibilities

Birth-Father's-RightsIf a birth father is unknown or is unwilling to sign a consent to adoption and termination of his parental rights, a summons and petition for the termination of his parental rights must be filed and notice given to terminate his rights on an involuntary basis.  If there is no last know address for the birth father or alleged father, notice can be given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of his last known whereabouts.  Such a petition for termination of parental rights and adoption may be filed and the process initiated before the child’s birth, but the actual termination hearing on that petition cannot be held until at least 48 hours after the child’s birth.

Notice of Summons and Hearing on Petition for Termination by Publication

If notice and personal service in not possible on an alleged birth father, sometimes called “John Doe”, this person can be notified of the petition for termination and hearing on it by mail and by publication of a Summons and Notice in a legal newspaper in the county of his last known whereabouts, or in the country where the adoption proceeding is to take place.  You first make a motion to the court and obtain an order authorizing this type of notice.  The statute should be checked each time to determine the proper basis and location for publication of the summons.

The adoption summons is a specialized summons and distinct from a civil summons in a number of respects.  It is, for instance, a 30 day summons, and does not require a longer wait for a default as does a civil summons served in another state which usually requires 60 days before a default can be taken. (See Exhibit III)

Required contents of the Adoption Summons include:

  • Date and place of birth of child
  • If unborn, Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) approximate date and location of conception, identity of mother.
  • Right to attorney if oppose
  • If parent opposes termination and is indigent, right to attorney at state expense.
  • If personally served, default can be taken in 20 days if served in Washington, 30 days if out of state.
  • Right to file claim of paternity

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