Fathers' parental rights protected by state law


I am writing in response to Tyrone Henry's editorial "Men deserve equal rights when raising children" (Feb. 3). As a woman who recently placed her newborn child for adoption, I have to differ with a few things stated in this editorial.

Mr. Henry seems to have the impression that a woman can place her baby for adoption without the father having any knowledge that she was pregnant in the first place. To be blunt, this statement is nothing short of outright wrong. Though the laws are relatively new, all states now require that any potential father must be notified of a pregnancy should the woman be planning an adoption. (To show how young these laws are, the law for the state of Arizona requiring notification was only passed in July of 1994.)

Now, that is a law in all states. As for the details, I am only knowledgeable in the Arizona law. In Arizona, a biological mother planning on placing her baby for adoption is required to show a diligent effort to locate and notify all possible fathers. Anything short of this is considered perjury and the woman will face charges. I know from my own experience, I had to swear on legally notarized documents that there was no doubt who the father of my child was, and that he had been informed of the pregnancy and agreed to relinquish his parental rights.

The father has 30 days after he receives notification to come forward and either consent to the adoption plan and legally relinquish parental rights to the child or assume full and total responsibility for the child himself. If he does not come forward, he relinquishes his rights by default.

In fact, there is much irony in some of Mr. Henry's statements. It is true that the father does not have a say if the mother decides to get an abortion. It is true that the father has no say in a woman's decision to keep and raise his child. In fact, adoption planning is the only pregnancy option that the father does have a say in. Arizona law also says that if a man has sexual relations with a woman that might result in conception of a child, he can register with the Department of Health Services as a potential father for any child that is born to that woman within ten months of the encounter. If the woman does have a child, he will be informed and can choose to accept parental responsibility or relinquish. This gives men a chance to claim their child even if the woman doesn't want him to know and loses contact.

Gee, Mr. Henry, it doesn't sound like men have no rights in adoption proceedings to me.

In conclusion, I would like to quote a friend of mine with Arizona Children's Home: "It is not a problem with the laws. It is a problem with the people involved, with honesty."

Danielle (Dani) Ketker

Physics Junior and Birthmother

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