The set of players that have come to be most associated with adoptions might typically be listed this way. The party of the first part might be the adoptee child. The party of the second part would likely be the child's biological mother. The party of the third part would be the adoptive parent or couple.
But you would be mistaken if you think that list is complete. Though these days the availability of artificial insemination means that sometimes a natural father isn't in the picture, most births don't happen that way. That means that there often is a legitimate party of the fourth part.
The question that deserves to be asked then is, in an adoption environment where a father may well be overlooked, what should a man do to be sure his interests are protected under the law?
Certainly, the first thing that should be done is for the father to consult with an experienced attorney. That's the best way to be certain about what legal obligations may exist and what steps can be taken to exercise his rights. In addition, here some additional thoughts from some who have direct experience in this area.
- Young birth dads should be willing to seek guidance from their parents.
- Don't go it alone. There are support groups you can join for help.
- Understand that if the birth mother is married, the courts in Texas presume the husband is the legal father unless specific documents are filed.
- Consider submitting to a DNA test, but expect it to take time.
- If you want to assure contact with a child, register with the father registry in your state and those nearby, but be aware that time is often of the essence.
It's clear that situations involving unmarried parents can present unique challenges. But that doesn't mean they can't be met with skilled representation.