The Florida Adoption Act: A Masterpiece of Absurdity

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Published Date Written by Erik L. Smith

I had always considered Franz Kafka to be the king of absurd fiction. Not any more. I now nominate the Florida legislature for the top honor. Its masterpiece is the Florida Adoption Act, a law purporting to balance the rights of all parties in adoptions.

 

The Act starts by stating that the mother can conceal her pregnancy from the father and defraud the court.[1]Consequently, simply because he had sexual intercourse, the father has a duty to file with the Florida putative father registry. [2] To register, however, he must swear to be the father of an existing child. [3] The registry then tells him he can revoke this sworn paternity claim only before the birth of the child who may not exist.  [4] If the child turns out to exist, but the man realizes after the birth that the child is not his, he must execute an "irrevocable affidavit of nonpaternity" to eliminate the father status he earlier had a duty to claim. [5]

 

To balance rights further, the Act tells the mother that before the child is three (or so) days old, she may, for any reason, keep all names secret when surrendering the child for adoption so the putative father registry cannot be searched. [6] As long as the child is unharmed, her right to anonymity is "absolute." [7] The adoption petitioner must then investigate missing person reports, "whether or not the child is missing." [8] If no report exists, the petitioner need not search for the unknown father. [9]Instead, the registered unknown father must find the anonymous child. [10] Only when the father finds the child, or somehow becomes known, is he entitled to notice of the petition to terminate parental rights, [11] whereupon the absolutely anonymous mother becomes known because the father knows who she is.

 

Where a father is known and locatable, the adoption agency petitioner may give the father notice of the adoption plan, even before the birth. [12] The notice must tell the father that he needs to file a paternity claim with vital statistics within 30 days and a pledge of commitment with the court. [13]But the agency does not need to tell him about the putative father registry per se. [14]After hearing his arguments, the court will terminate his rights as a matter of law if he did not register before the adoption petition was filed,[15]which can be three days after the birth. [16]

 

The legislature calls this "a method for absolute protection of an unmarried father's rights." [17]

 

Release me.

 

63.063(3) "The Legislature finds no way to remove all risk of fraud or misrepresentation in adoption proceedings and has provided a method for absolute protection of an unmarried biological father's rights by compliance with the provisions of this chapter. In balancing the rights and interests of the state and of all parties affected by fraud, including the child, the adoptive parents, and the unmarried biological father, the Legislature has determined that the unmarried biological father is in the best position to prevent or ameliorate the effects of fraud and, therefore, has the burden of preventing fraud."

 

63.039(2) "If a court finds that a consent to adoption or an affidavit of nonpaternity taken under this chapter was obtained by fraud or duress attributable to the adoption entity, the court may award all sums paid by the prospective adoptive parents or on their behalf in anticipation of or in connection with the adoption."

1.
FLA. STAT. 63.063(3).  
2.
63.088(1); 63.054(1). 
3.
Jurat to Putative Father Registry Form DH 1965. 
4.
63.054(5); Instructions to Form DH 1965.  
5.
63.062(4). 
6.
63.0423 referring to 383.50.  
7.
383.50(5). 
8.
63.0423(3).  
9.
63.0423(4).  
10.
63.0423(6). 
11.
63.0423(4).  
12.
63.062(3)(a)(b).  
13.
63.062(3)(a).  
14.
Id.  
15.
.088(1); 63.062(2)(d).  
16.
63.213(b). 
17.
63.063(3). 

The Ohio Putative Father Registry–the WHAT?

I am a single man. Yet I had been in Ohio for over a year before hearing of the Ohio Putative Father Registry, and then only in a Probate Law class. The professor was covering how a child could be adopted without the birth father's consent. "ORC 3701.061: A man who has sexual intercourse with a woman is on notice that if a child is born as a result and the man is the putative father, the child may be adopted without his consent pursuant to division (B) of section 3107 of the Revised Code." That section required the man sign the Putative Father Registry within thirty days after the birth to get notice of the adoption.

 

Ohio Putative Father Registry: The Basics

Unwed fathers are entitled to notice of petitions to adopt their biological children. Yet many fathers lose this right by not registering timely with the Ohio putative father registry (PFR).1R.C. 3107.062. Because adoptions are probate proceedings, lawyers practicing juvenile, domestic relations, or traditional probate law may not understand how the Ohio PFR applies.  At initial consultations then, attorneys may omit counseling fathers about the registry and refer them to attorneys with more specialized experience. But the strict registration deadline, and often unknown deadline date, demand that the father register immediately. Thus the attorney should consider counseling the client about the PFR and help him register that day before referring him. This article gives the information needed to do that.

Preventing Your Infant Child From Being Adopted Without Your Consent

Summary

Consult an adoption law or family law attorney. Otherwise: An unwed father has no absolute right to veto an adoption. You must take action to preserve your rights. Whether the mother is considering adoption or not, an unwed father should, as soon as possible and preferably before the birth:

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