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Congress considering law on birth fathers' rights

A rare but notable issue regarding fathers' rights is adoption challenges and notification of birth fathers when the child's mother is relinquishing the child. Dallas residents may be interested to hear that a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would connect the 34-state voluntary responsible fatherhood registries with the Federal Parental Locator Service.

Known as The Permanency for Children Act, the bill is intended to help prevent adoptions if contested by the father. Fathers now must register separately in each state to preserve their rights to contest adoptions. Earlier location of the father during the adoption process would help prevent legal uncertainty and complications for the prospective adoptive parents.

The National Council for Adoption is supporting this measure introduced by Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.). It nonetheless expressed concern over the 16 states where fathers lack access to adoption notice and that the 34 states who have these registries do not interact.

A South Carolina court case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court relates to the purpose of this bill. A father contested his child's adoption because he did not receive notice in accordance with Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines. The Supreme Court found that the ICWA provided no rights to the father. The case was remanded to South Carolina where the adoption was approved.

Advocates also call for other measures. They asked for expansion of the registry beyond the current 34 states. Additionally, that putative fathers should have the opportunity to register throughout the pregnancy and for 30 days after notification of an adoption proceeding anywhere in this country.

Fathers seeking to assert their rights may want to consult with a family law attorney. This can help ensure that their rights and the best interests of the child are sought.

Source: Chronicle of Social Change, "Proposed legislation designed to safeguard birth fathers' rights, protect adoptive families," Kim Phagan-Hansel, Oct. 9, 2017

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