The Contractual Nature of Adoption

Published Date Written by Erik L. Smith

Defined generally, adoption makes the child the legal child of the persons adopting him, and they become his legal parents with all the rights and duties between them of natural parents and legitimate child. The natural parents, in turn, are relieved of all parental responsibilities for the child, and they lack all rights over the adopted child or his property. [1] Adoption is complete legal substitution of parents. [2]


In 1938, the Oregon Supreme Court held that, "The relationship created by adoption, although governed by statute, is contractual." [3] An Oregon Appeals Court amplified that 60 years later: "To the extent that an agreement between one party to relinquish a child for adoption and another party to adopt a child may be viewed as a contract, it is a contract with terms strictly prescribed by state law. [4] Adoption has been called "contractual relinquishment of custody." [5] In 1980, the Ohio Supreme Court held that: "An agreement by a child's parents or legal guardian to surrender a child to the permanent custody of a certified association or institution described in R.C. Section 5103.15 constitutes a contract where accepted by such association or institution and when voluntarily made without fraud or misrepresentation." [6]

See, for example, Birth Mother v. Adoptive Parents, 59 P.3d 1233 (Nev. 2002), par. 32.  
Andrews v. Andrews, 338 S.E.2d 809 (N.C. Ct. App. 1986), disc. rev. denied, 345 S.E.2d 385 (1986), par. 1 citing Crumpton v. Mitchell, 281 S.E.2d 1 (1981); 2 Am. Jur. 2d Adoption Section 83 (1962). 
In Re Hayes' Estate, 86 P.2d 424, 87 P.2d 766 (Ore. 1938), par. 10 of syllabus.  
 Does 1-7 v. State of Oregon, 993 P.2d 822 (Or. Ct. App. 1999), pars. 9-12, rev. den., 6 P.3d 1098 (2000). 
See, In re Adoption Mays, 507 N.E.2d 453 (Ohio Ct. App. 1986). 
In re Miller, 61 Ohio St.2d 184, 189, 399 N.E.2d 1262 (Ohio 1980). 

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


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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