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Who is the putative father in an adoption case?

It is not uncommon for couples in Ohio who hope to adopt a child to endure long waits as they prepare for the arrival of the child. In some cases, individuals may believe that they have been matched with a child only to find out later that the child, for one reason or another, will not be allowed to enter into their family. A common cause of failed adoptions is the emergence of putative fathers.

A putative father is a father who alleges to be a child's father and who is not married to the child's biological mother. While it is clearly easy to identify a child's birth mother from the child's birth certificate, a mother may not name or may not know exactly who the other party to her child's conception was.

After a child is born, an unwed father may take steps to demonstrate his interest in being a parent to the child. They may petition to sign their child's birth certificate or may provide financial and emotional support to them. They may work through the courts to show that they are paternally linked to their child. If a putative father appears and has a legal claim to retaining their parental rights over a child, an adoptive family may lose the opportunity to bring that child into their home.

It is not always possible for a birth mother to identify the father of a child. However, prospective adoptive parents should take steps to prepare for the possibility of putative fathers placing challenges in their paths to adopting children. Individuals who face this and other issues may need to get more information about their options during the adoption process.

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