Both families who wish to adopt and prospective birth mothers often have questions about the role the birth father potentially plays in the process. Without following the proper procedures, there is a risk that the birth father will later appear and contest the adoption, which could be a traumatic scenario for the adoptive parents as well as the child.
If you are in the process of arranging an adoption, do not rely on the birth mother to take care of dealing with the father. This can be a difficult situation that she may lack the knowledge or capability to handle. Instead, provide appropriate support to her and work with your attorney to ensure proper follow-through of the process.
When a father’s consent is necessary
Generally, South Carolina law provides that both biological parents of a child must consent to adoption unless one or both of them had their parental rights terminated by order of a court. However, the situation can become more complex if the parents of the child were not married at the time of pregnancy and birth.
Under the following conditions, the law requires an unwed father’s consent for an adoption to proceed:
1. The father openly and continuously lived together with the child or the mother for at least six months prior to the adoption placement; and
2. During this time, the father openly acted as the child’s father and acknowledged himself as such, or he paid pregnancy costs, birth expenses or child support; and
3. The placement of the child for adoption occurred fewer than six months after the child was born.
Simply having a relationship with the child is not enough; the biological father must have had at least some part of the financial responsibility for the child. Generally, to give the father the right to provide or withhold consent to an adoption, the law requires him to actively seek out the child and involve himself in his or her life, including the provision of financial support.