Back to Unmarried Genetic Fathers and Utah Law

Once again thanks go to The Adopted Ones blog to letting me know that it was time to go back and look at Utah again.   There’s some new Utah legislation that I think merits a close look.

For those of you who may not have been following along closely, Utah has come up repeatedly in this blog because it has laws that dramatically limit the rights of unmarried men to claim legal parentage.   As I’ve discussed before, this is the result of a policy choice Utah has made–the state wants to encourage adoption by married couples and giving unmarried men the right to object to adoption runs counter to that goal.   Obviously the merits of this policy are debatable–but I’m going to stay on a more technical level for the moment.

As you’ll see if you scroll through the posts, Utah’s approach has generated some controversy.  One problem is that this law sometimes seems to spill over into the rights of married men–which like it or not, the law sees as a completely different topic.    Even supporters of Utah law ought to agree that applications of the law to cases like Achane are wrong and there is a fair bit of evidence to suggest it isn’t just an accident, but rather deliberate misconduct on the part of the Utah agency involved.   This lead to some concerns about adoption fraud and there were indications that Utah might actually do something about this problem.  It looks to me like this has now happened.  The article notes that Utah has implemented some ethical rules that I think are designed to prevent what happened to Terry Achane.

But this isn’t the only tweak of Utah law noted in the article and one of the other ones mentioned suggests to me that Utah isn’t retreating at all from its harsh treatment of unmarried men.   Notice the reference in the newspaper to SB 232?     Here’s the actual bill, as enacted, and I’m going to walk through what I think it means.  (It isn’t always easy to read legislation and I am not going to guarantee my reading is correct.)

I’m jumping down to line 243.   (Most of this is already existing law and I will specifically note what seems to be new.)   Basically, if a man abandons his child then his consent to adoption isn’t required.  This actually seems like a fairly reasonable proposition.  But of course, it does depend on what constitutes “abandonment” and this part of the law defines that is new and is in lines 244-46.

“abandonment” means failure of a father, with reasonable knowledge of the pregnancy, to offer and provide financial and emotional support to the birth mother for a period of six months before the day on which the adoptee is born.

(You can also go up to line 92 and see that under existing law an unmarried man who engages in intercourse “is considered to be on notice that a pregnancy…..may occur.”   I don’t know if that will amount to “reasonable knowledge of the pregnancy” but it might.)   The requirement of emotional support in addition to financial support was a late amendment to the bill.  Crucially line 261 notes that implied consent “may not be withdrawn.”   In other words, failure to provide the required support means you have no ability to object to the adoption because you have already consented to it.

This obligation to provide financial and emotional support (and by the way that “and” in there is important–it means he must do both) is forgiven where the failure is attributable to the birth mother’s refusing to accept the support offered.   And he’s forgiven the failure to provide emotional (but presumably not financial) support where that’s due to impossibility.   (This is in lines 247-49.)   But basically this looks to me like another hurdle for the unmarried man.   I think that even the unmarried father who has done the things required in the earlier sections and is therefore entitled to notice of the adoption is bound by the implied consent that cannot be withdrawn.   Thus, if he is found to have failed to provide the required support and if that failure is not excused then even if he gets notice, he cannot in fact object to the adoption.

I’d be very curious to know if this is how it looks to other people and/or if this is how it has played in the Utah legislature.

 

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35 responses to “Back to Unmarried Genetic Fathers and Utah Law

  1. I think it is a terrible bill. How do you define emotional support? What if the mother wants adoption and the father doesn’t – is he supposed to provide her emotional “support” of her choice when he opposes it?

    Going past that aspect – how can he “prove” he provided emotional support – document every supportive moment and get the expectant mother to sign off throughout a pregnancy when adoption was never even mentioned? It’s designed to trap the father who has complied to every single requirement of being provided notice.

    Emotional support is also subjective…it is not something that can be defined by specific criteria.

    My take – some “lobbyists” for adoption in Utah are trying to make it impossible for any father to contest an adoption.

  2. Very disappointing. They still seem to want to put obstacles in the way of unmarried fathers who wish to prevent their genetic child from being given up for adoption.

    They say this about “financial and emotional support” btw:

    “As used in this section, ’emotional support’ means a pattern of statements or actions that indicate to a reasonable person that a father intends to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of an unborn child.”

    “offered to pay and paid, during the pregnancy and after the child’s birth, a fair and reasonable amount of the expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy and the child’s birth, in accordance with his financial ability”

    You could clearly argue that unmarried fathers should be doing these things, but if they’ve done none of this, but realise upon seeing the baby that they want to be a dad, I believe they should be given that chance. If unmarried fathers have to jump through the extra hoops, then why not men who are married to the mothers? Why not the mothers themselves? (a mother can say she intends to give a child up for adoption, but change her mind).

  3. sounds like this makes it harder not easiet for the unmaried fathe, i don’t see any improvement. in no other context is a man considered to have abandoned a child simply because he does not wish to be in a relaonship with its mother. a woman can also tell multiple men they are the father with the hope of squeezing money out of all of them. last but not least i find it infantilizing to pregnant women to suggest that they are someones responsibility to support. at a time when pregnant wonen have enough to do fighting work discrimination.

  4. I’d like to point this out…
    ““abandonment” means failure of a father, with reasonable knowledge of the pregnancy, to offer and provide financial and emotional support to the birth mother for a period of six months before the day on which the adoptee is born.”

    First off they are recognizing a man’s legitimate fatherhood based upon the fact that he has living offspring and nothing more. But they are saying fathers are disqualified from whatever if they don’t support the woman that they got pregnant.

    Second off I’d like to point out that the father was not a father until his child was born and the mother was not a mother before her child was born. They were just two separate unconnected individuals until their offspring is born. I believe they refer to them as expectant mothers and fathers.

    I’d also like to point out that there is no law that says a male must provide financial support to the women that he gets pregnant. Is there? No no there is not. Otherwise they would be garnishing pay checks for pregnant girlfriend support the way they do child support. A man has a legal obligation to provide financial support to his WIFE or his SPOUSE regardless of whether that spouse is pregnant or not. The wife has an equal obligation – duh. That’s the big thing about getting married it’s a financial obligation. Even a husband has no obligation to support a child UNTIL THERE IS A CHILD BORN. So I find it appalling that a man could be penalized for not having done something that he is not legally required to do. Up until VERY recently there were no pre-birth DNA tests to determine exactly who got the pregnant woman pregnant. We should want to place that responsibility with the appropriate person who actually got the woman pregnant. I believe the reason that the state does not compel men to provide financial support for their pregnant girlfriend’s is that they can’t make unmarried people take financial responsibility for one another and they can’t make a person responsible for supporting a child until there is a child. For instance he can’t even add his pregnant girlfriend to his medical insurance but he can add his child to his medical insurance – the world is not set up to force people to be financially responsible for other adults unless they show they want that by getting married.

    Its utter bull sht that children are loosing their fathers and father’s family because their father did not support their mother while she was pregnant if they were not married he had no such legal obligation and they could not even be sure that he was the one who impregnated her until after the birth. Its still dangerous to do an amnio which is how I think they do the DNA test. You don’t want to do amnio unless you have to

  5. Oh and one more thing. These same rules of thumb about not being the father if he did not support the mother before she was a mom and before he was a dad back when she was pregnant; the very same judge would laugh a father out of court if he said he should not have to pay child support because he had opted not to provide financial support to her while the mom was pregnant.

    ” No your honor I don’t have to provide child support because I chose not to provide pregnant girlfriend support therefore my biological offspring are not my responsibility please have the state cut her a welfare check every month for the next 18 years”

  6. I understand there are many unmarried fathers out there that this may seem an obstacle for. I on the other hand am on the other side of the fence. The biological father of my child(now 8 months old) cut all contact with me when I was 4 1/2 months pregnant. I did everything in my power to give him all of the information, when appointments were, what the gender was, my phone number, etc. I never asked for financial help; however, I did tell him anything he gave me would go into her savings account which I also gave him that information. After I told him I was pregnant, he made it clear he did not want this in his life. He lived down the road from where I worked everyday and never once tried to see me, after many attempts on my part to see him. I was the last to contact him with a phone call telling him it was a girl, and again a visit to his work to give him the last ultrasound. He never spoke to me again. I have kept my same number and he knows my acquaintances and can easily get ahold of me at any time.

    Having explained some of my situation, I am now faced with a decision. I have provided for myself and my daughter 100%. I think it is highly unfair that at after all of this time he could show up and all of a sudden want something to do with her. At which point her life is now interrupted and if he ever got visitation rights I would have to worry about her going with someone I don’t even know very well. She is in a very healthy and stable home right now where she is thriving, it isn’t fair to her to turn that around. I don’t use any of the state assistance and I am a full time working single mother. I am currently engaged and by filing abandonment against the father, it allows my daughter to be adopted by someone she already knows as Dad. Someone who DOES care about her, who DOES provide for her, and who did not abandon her. This is what is in my child’s best interest, and I am glad there are laws that make that possible for us. I was not provided for while pregnant, and that continued into after she was born and probably much longer. I am the one who is up every night since she was born, I am the one working nights so she can have a parent at home during the day with her, I am the one who has sacrificed so much to help her thrive and grow, I am the one who has cared from the moment I found out I was pregnant. He doesn’t deserve any rights ever to her.

    • Thanks for writing. It’s so important to be aware of the range of experiences that people have. We’ve been focused on stories quite different from yours. In making general policies that apply to everyone it is essential to keep the full range of scenarios in mind. It would also be useful to know how common each scenario is but I don’t think anyone actually has that kind of information.

      • I.think abbeys story.shows us what abandonment is, in contrast to some,of the utah garbage that weve been discussimg.

        • Exactly. There is a difference between not showing interest in a child despite being given every encouragement and opportunity by the other parent, and not filing very specific paperwork in a state a man was not aware the mother had any intention of traveling to.

    • Abby please give this some thought why are you doing this to her?! When she is thirty years old she will be likely angry about it because you thought about it from YOUR perspective rather than hers. It is understandible you want to honor the man you’re choosing to marry by granting him the title of “Father” because in your eyes he has earned it – She is not yours to give away she’s your’s to take care of. That Father/child relationship does not belong to you it’s theirs his and hers. Hers most especially hers because he OWES her his physical and financial support and the fact that she is not receiving it does not mean she does not still legally deserve his support and does not still legally deserve to be a legal member of his family.

      Your husband assumes responsibility for your debt when he marries you that means that he is now legally obligated to help you take care of her and provide financially to help you with your share of the cost of raising her. So your daughter is NOT GAINING ANYTHING FINANCIALLY. In fact, she is loosing because HER FATHER should be providing support as well that is HER MONEY not yours. She could do more have more schooling, lessons whatever it is she needs give her the very best start possible is your responsibility and it is her father’s responsibility and if either of you get married it becomes your spouses responsibiity as well during your marriage. She gains by you getting married, but not if you terminate her relationship with her father SHE LOOSES HER FATHERS SUPPORT AND MORE. Get this step parents have all sorts of legally recognized status, her step father can add her to his medical insurance and he can claim her as a dependent on his taxes and oif her step dad dies before she turns 18 she will get social security and military death benefits as his dependent step child. If her father never paid a dime of support and was a hobo living by the railroad – if he died she would qualify for his social security death benefits and military benefits until she’s 18 even though she has never spoken to him and she’s lived her whole life with you and her stepfather. That is the least her deadbeat father can do – provide for her in death as he would not in life. She is entitled to that and it could help her with school. Why does she not deserve that legal entitlement? Did you know that if he has other children she won’t be considered their legal kin? Did you know if she should ever form a bond with those siblings and she took one of them in in her older years if they were very sick she would have no legal right to claim them as her relative dependent? Legally its as if it erases realit

      • And Abby what’s more as an adult she’d have the ability to take in a sick step relative and claim them as a relative dependent she’d have the right to access their birth marriage and death records as their step relative. But she won’t have any legal right to access records of her own real family and they won’t have the right to access hers either – all that taken away from an entire family courtesy of adoption. She won’t be getting anything extra by having your husband adopt her and she’ll be loosing all kinds of rights its horrible. I reunite separated families and step adopted kids are some of the angryiest because the whole adoption was to feed the mother’s ego and her desire to present the person she’s in love with as if he were the father of her children. She has real permanent relationships to you and her father and its the two of you who owe her something its you guys who she deserves a protected relationship with. Now you’ll go force a legal permanent relationship between her and a man that you’ll only have a temporary connection to. How fair is that if your marriage desolves she’ll still be having him as her legal parent. His connection to her is through you and you need to stay in charge of that. He’d have no relationship with her were it not for his love for you, the same cannot be said for her father, he has one with her even if the two of you can’t stand one another.

        Change how you are looking at the situation; you said if he came back now and tried to have a relationship with her it would upset you because you’ve had to do it on your own this long and you gave him every opportunity. Check yourself girl you are not in a position to be “giving her father every opportunity” You are both in a position of equal obligation and neither of you should thwart the others efforts to provide for her to have a relationship with her and to incude her in one another’s families. It is real unfair that you have had to carry the burden alone this far but why would you not want your daughter to have an opportunity to build a relationship with her own father if at any point in the next 18 years it becomes possible and he sees the light and he says he’s ready its better than never being ready at all. If the first 6 years of her life he’s a drunk deadbeat and the next 30 years he is an attentive loving and respectful father then he came to his senses and fulfilled his obigation. You want to have a clear conscience not only that you gave him every opportunity but that you had NOTHING to do with your child being separated from him and his family. You want to be hoping always that at some point your daughter can have a good relationship with him and his family that she will at some point be included and welcomed by his relatives. You can do that with your husband as her step father and your child will never resent you for cutting her off from her family when it was not necessary. She gains nothing level with yourself and realize that it is only to honor the man who is putting in the time and effort. You can find ways to honor him that don’t terminate your child’ls legal kinship in her fathers family..

  7. I have enjoyed reading other circumstances as well it has opened my eyes to the other side of things that I never thought of. I can only imagine some of the things women do to keep kids from fathers that actually want something to do with them. It is definitely a hard boundary to go by with so many extremes one way or the other. I think that is why I was so adamant that I give him every opportunity to have involvement. That way if he left it was his decision and his alone and I could stand by that when my daughter is older and has questions. I am glad to have found this discussion it has been very insightful!

  8. “m” Wow.. it is apparent you don’t know anything about the situation. I have absolutely no debt and I provide for my daughter 100%. She is not a “financial obligation” to anyone and he doesn’t look at her as a burden because he looks at her as his own. He was there for me when I was pregnant he was there for the birth, he has been there every step of the way for not only me but HER. He doesn’t have kids and if we have any together they are her 1/2 siblings so yes she is related to them. I didn’t mention in the past post because it wasn’t necessary, but the biological father is also an abusive alcoholic and does drugs. If you would put your child in that situation then be my guest but I won’t have my daughter in harms way. If i went for “financial support” from him I would MAYBE get 100 a month if that. So no I do not think it is irresponsible to keep my child safe and I will be nothing but honest to her if the question should ever arise and that will be her decision. I have no guilt over my choices. My oldest sister is my 1/2 sister and my dad has been more of a dad to her than her own deadbeat alcoholic biological father. Or how about my friend, same situation only she pushed to have the father in her daughters life. Now she is filing restraining orders against him because he has been molesting there TWO YEAR old child. Had she followed her gut in the first place this may have never happened. I’m not going to wait around for that to happen to my daughter. I know the kind of people I used to hang out with(including the biological father) and I have made the necessary changes to get out of that lifestyle and turn my life around so my daughter would have a healthy home to grow up in. So no I am not going to live my life or make her live her life “waiting” on something that might never even happen. That is on his conscience. You have no knowledge of what my relationship is like now and I feel that you are just assuming I’m going to jump from man to man. You don’t know me. What money do you give YOUR children? I have put aside 5,000 dollars into an account to which I still add to every month. Yes I was going use that for many things but now SHE is my priority. that is HER money and it is MORE than her biological father could ever give her. She can’t lose her biological fathers support because SHE NEVER HAD IT. Next time you end up pregnant and get left and the guy wants nothing to do with your child you can come and tell me how you feel then. I worked three jobs while I was pregnant to be able to give her everything she needs. Last tax year I put all the money I got for having her and being single into HER account which i will continue to do each year. I don’t use it on myself unless it is necessary for her as well.

    • My goodness you have a big chip on your shoulder. I’m just telling you because I’ve helped lots of step adopted people get back with their families and they’ve changed their names back to their father’s names with no offense to the step father’s that raised them. I grew up in a family where my own brother chose to take my father’s name at 18 and now after our father’s death he regrets it and is going to try and change it back after 40 some odd years because he’s having trouble managing his father’s affairs with his brother because his name does not match and he feels guilty that his name has not been passed down to his children and they are now thinking of changing their names to include their real last name that they’ve been denied.

      I know exactly what its like to have a child with an alcoholic drug addict I live it every day of my life and I do everything I can to encourage a good relationship between the both of them and to make sure she can never say I poisoned her against him and his family or prevented him or them from trying to see her. I’m not all high and mighty I’m genuinely trying to give you information about legal rights that she will loose if you go through with the step adoption so you can weigh that against what she will gain. I don’t question your contribution to your child. But if he’s never paid a dime for anything and he inherits property that money would end up going to your child because of his unpaid debt to her so long as she’s still legally his child even if you have full legal and physical custody. Why would she not deserve that? Take all the emotion out of it does he not owe her that much? You can set up a will that says you want for your husband to raise her in the event that something happens to you and that would be viewed favorably against going to a grandparent that she has not met. But you would not prevent her from having a relationship with her grandparents if they wanted one or with her cousins or siblings if there are any would you? If you do be prepared to have a very bitter child on your hands later on. Even if she says she does not care and is glad you did it she’s apt to go behind your back because that is what so many do when they contact me for a search. They don’t want to hurt their mother and step fathers feelings so they just lie and tell them what they want to hear. I’m just saying you can avoid all that by always acting encouraging to her relationship with them and if they fail they fail on their own accord and not because of anything you did to stop contact. That is the best position you can be in so that she can never look at you and say you did not want her to be part of her own family. There is no time limit no expiration date for her relationship with them, it exists regardless of anyone’s actions for or against it. So many people now in reunion remember hearing their mother’s on the phone or at the front door telling their fathers or father’s family to go away that they had their chance and lost it. And it anguishes them to know that their family tried to contact them but their mother’s prevented it. If you have reason to believe that your child’s father will beat and molest her then its your responsibility to get a restraining order against him, not get her adopted by someone else.

    • So you are not legally obligated to provide for your child? She is not your financial obligation? Someone has to provide for dependent minors. Who then? She’s your obligation because you put her here on this earth. Why is she more your obligation that her father’s? Does the fact that he has not taken care of her for so long mean that he is no longer responsible for her? Fail long enough and you can erase your obligations? What if you had not met this wonderful man? What if you were still trying to make it on your own? Would she not deserve anything from her father then? Is the only reason you think she deserves nothing from him that you happened to fall in love with someone willing to be there for her? Why won’t you let her have both?

  9. I apologize on behalf of the owner of this blog if that was too much in my response, but people need to understand that there ARE circumstances in which it is necessary to do this. People give their children up for adoption all the time, this is no different except for that I am keeping her and someone who actually WANTS to have her is adopting her as his own.

    • I know there was a lot in your post but you are right that we need to have the context for the actions. It’s the details you include that help us understand. And of course, your case is just one case and is in that sense unique. But it serves to remind us that there are many stories out there and only some of them make the news.

  10. another thing to think about is what if the biological father is a deadbeat drunk for the first 6 yrs and then DOESN’T change? now she has to deal with a deadbeat father who is in an out of prison her whole life and would always have to wonder why he never loved her enough to do anything for her. I’m not willing to take those kinds of chances. I’d be interested in anyone else’s thoughts on this as well…

    • i have to agree with abby here. when people have been behaving the same way for years, they don’t usually cchange. to deny abbys daughter the benefits of adoptipn cuz w are holding out for.a man to change who does not want to, is unrealistic and not in the kids best intereststs.

      • Yes, and unlike Marilyn I think there are certain benefits to a stepparent adoption in cases of true abandonment by the other bio parent – for example, legally ensuring the child could continue to live in the same home should the non-abandoning bio parent die or become permanently incapacitated.

        • Well they would not FORCE the step-father to continue taking care of his deceased wife’s child, but if they set it up in the mother’s will and he Agreed to continue taking care of her to maintain continuity in the child’s life rather than being sent to live with her paternal grandparents that she’d never met the court would probably view the step father keeping her favorably especially if she was being raised in the same house with younger step siblings and half siblings.

          Google around for how many men now pay child support for their step adopted children after divorcing their adopted children’s mothers and they are pissed and kicking themselves for it. Not because they don’t love their ex’s kids but that the father is perfectly healthy working and capable of supporting his own kids and he never should have been allowed off the hook to begin with. The man with the real permanent father child relationship should be the one with the real permanent financial obligation. The step father’s involvement should end if the marriage ends.

          Go further and continue to recount the benefits of step child adoption. What else does the child gain? So far everyone has named 1 thing that the kid could continue living with the step father in the event of the mothers death and that could be accomplished without the adoption AND AND AND the kids would still have the right to support from their estranged father even if it is only $100 a month that would help offset the Step Father’s costs of raising them on his own.

          • If the mother died there isn’t a guarantee a stepfather would keep custody even if the child had a very strong parent/child bond. It would be up to a judge and state laws. If the stepparent adopts, they are guaranteed to keep custody unless found unfit. Also, a biological parent could have a stepparent adoption done for legal reasons while still providing the child with all the information on their biological parent and other known biological relatives should the child wish to seek them out someday. Not everyone who does a stepparent adoption will pretend the other bio parent doesn’t exist.

            • Thank you Rebecca. I have a file of all the information I know on her father, which unfortunately isn’t a whole lot but it is hers to do what she wants with it when she is older. Both of my parents are adopted my Mother in a similar case to this and she is pro adoption, never cared to find her biological father because she had a dad(my grandpa) and her biological father never had anything to do with her. My daughter definitely has a choice, when she is old enough to handle that choice. Thanks for your input!

              M I said she wasn’t a financial obligation to her new father. You are right I did get pregnant and I did bring her here, which is why I do provide for her. She is absolutely my responsibility for the rest of her life. I don’t have emotions in it, I was not in love with this guy I don’t even know his last name. Not my finest moment, I met in at a bar and that was that. I told him I was pregnant not to get financial support from him but to let him know he would be having a child. Which is when I found out he has another child that he has nothing to do with either. but yes my daughter deserves more than to be a part of that lifestyle which is why I am providing that for her. I am not “poisoning” her against him he does that plenty on his own. I will always tell her exactly what happened when she has questions I will answer them. I will also help her outweigh the pros and cons of the consequences(good and bad) that can come from finding him. I will also ask her to contemplate what a “father” is and who she feels plays that role in her life. I understand everyone comes from different backgrounds and that is fine. This is my background and why I’ve made the decisions I have. I have worked hard for what I have in life and it is good ethics for her to learn to do the same. I will provide anything she needs and I can control that. I can’t control if someone I don’t even hardly know all of a sudden comes across some great fortune, which is extremely unlikely to happen. I would rather teach my child that she needs to work hard for the things that she wants in this life and she shouldn’t sit around waiting for a handout that might never come. She is her own person, when the time comes she will be able to choose what attitude she would like to have on this situation. I am doing everything I can with what I know how, isn’t that what every parent does? I understand crap happens in life but I am not going to base my daughters financial stability and emotional wellness on a “chance” that I might die earlier than expected. I’m not going to wait around for anything to happen that I cannot control, or push our happiness to the side, I will live in the now.

            • Right. Imagine (and I hate to speculate like this with real people so imagine a hypothetical like the real facts) if the mother died and the step-father hadn’t adopted. The child could end up losing both relationships because there’s no protection for the step-father’s relationship with the child after the death of the mother. I do not have sufficient confidence in judges to just assume they’d do the right thing. And indeed, if the mother’s sister were to seek custody there are plenty of judges who, based on genetics, would pick her over the step-father. Even if there was absolutely no existing social relationship between aunt and child. These things do happen and it’s really only responsible to secure the step-father’s rights for the good of the child.

        • Permanently incapacitated does not end the marriage like death does.

        • Right–this is the flip side–not only should the law take into account that the genetic parent has abandoned the child (by deed, over a long period of time here, which to my mind makes it an easy case) but also the law should protect the relationships the child has formed. If the step-father has performed the role of father for a significant period of time then the law ought to protect that relationship. This ensure children a degree of stability and security in those crucial relationships.

      • Ki what are the benefits of adoption here? Recount them for me.
        What if the father never changes? She’s still going to deal with that pain and rejection from him. Having been adopted by her step father won’t ease an ounce of that pain at all not one little bit because people don’t replace one another. Being wanted by her step father won’t take away the hurt of being unwanted by her father.
        What are the benefits of step adoption? What will she gain by being step adopted that she would not already have by being his step child?

        • I agree adoption doesn’t cancel out the hurt of rejection; i’m speaking mostly of practical benefits that this man will have a legally protected relationship with the child.

          • I knew someone had said this. I agree and at the same time, I’m not sure I see that the adoption would aggravate the hurt of rejection. Maybe it would provide relief for anxiety as it ensures that the child won’t experience that a second time?

        • She will gain a permanent and protected relationship with him–even if the mother dies or if the couple here splits up. She will gain access to benefits like social security and perhaps health care. She will have the reality of the world she lives in–where he functions as her parent–validated. He will have a right to give consent if she needs medical care if her mother isn’t around (which is good for her).

          As you can see, some of these things are practical and some are more than that. But there are actually a host of things to be gained from securing legal recognition at the relationship.

          As I think someone else has said, the paid and rejection remain, of course–however much of them there is. What happened in the past (abandonment) has happened and cannot be changed. The adoption is forward looking. It doesn’t fix the past, but it secures the future.

          • Exactly! I think you captured a lot of where I am coming from. Whats past is past and she needs a positive future. I think we are at this end of the law as well because she never even had a relationship with the biological father, I’m not taking that away from her. I’m not trying to break up something that isn’t there neither him to her nor her to him. I really like how you mention the reality of the world she lives in. Thank you for putting it into words! The laws are difficult to make as you have stated before because every single situation is just so different from the next.

          • She will gain a permanent and protected relationship with him–even if the mother dies or if the couple here splits up.

            “She will gain access to benefits like social security and perhaps health care. ” Julie, genuinely and sincerely, were you aware that the law recognizes a person’s step family as their kin so long as the marriage remains intact and that any medical benefits extended to a person’s children must also be extended to their step children and that if a person is supporting their spouse’s dependent minor when they die that dependent minor will receive social security death benefits or military death benefits until they reach 18 just the same as if they were that person’s biological child? It is set up to recognize the reality of step children being dependent upon their step parent’s for support. You may not also realize that people have the legal right to obtain copies of their step relatives birth marriage and death certificates to the same extent that they can obtain those records for their actual family so long as the marriage remains intact. A person can also claim their step sister or step-niece or step mother as a relative dependent on their tax returns if they are taking care of them just like if they were base model family. Step parents can sign consent forms for doctors appointments but they are acting on behalf of their spouse because their connection to the child is through the spouse and not independent that’s all. It is reality that the connection is through the spouse and not directly with the child. Why would you be so resistant to having that reality reflected accurately in that person’s title and authority? Are you concerned that they’ll develop a bond that should be treated as if it were directly with the child rather than through the parent?

            • I don’t think the law is a clear or as uniform as you suggest with regard to step-parents. Even where it is, on the death of the spouse the marriage ends and step-parent can be left completely out of the picture.

      • This is essentially why I think the law must, at least at some point, take into account the way things really are for the child. If the man is really not performing anything like the role of a father then the law should recognize that failure. This is essentially why the legal doctrine of abandonment exists and I think it is a good thing that it does.

    • Abbey if she’s adopted by her step father and her father does not change and remains a dead beat drunk, she is still going to be dealing with that rejection of him never having done anything for her only it will be 10,0000 times worse that he was willing to sign a paper giving her up completely. If he refused to sign the paper she will always hold that refusal close to her heart and think he wanted her he was just to addicted and incapacitated to get it together and take care of her. If his hand is forced in anyway regarding this adoption if you fight his family in any way shape or form, your perfectly good relationship with your child will be fouled by resentment over that.
      Kids just want to be loved by both people that made them, want to be important to both people that made them. She’s not you and won’t be looking at it through your eyes as a woman dealing with a man with so many problems uncaring and irresponsible, she’ll be looking for any glimmer of love or concern from him and his family and she’ll be mad if you did anything to suppress their attempts to forge a relationship with her. If their attempts are doomed for failure let him fail let them fail all you can do is physically protect her like I said if he has a history of being convicted for beating children of course get a restraining order require supervised visitation but have that upper hand of never being blamed for severing their ties. Just saying it is in your hands you are the one doing all the work and so is your husband it would be nice if your child looked at that and gave you credit for that 30 years from now. All that hard work gets glossed over and disregarded if you do anything to prevent the father from fulfilling his obligations or anything to prevent contact between the child and his family…watch, you’ll see.

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