(This post continues my June 9, 2915 Adoptee’s Ask column, “Does My Birth Father Have The Right To Know My Birth Mother’s Identity?” at The Door Opener Magazine Online.)
So what rights does your birth father have?
He certainly had a right to know you existed when his parental rights were terminated. I believe this right never ended and he has always had the right to know about you. And now he does, in fact, know you exist. But that is because of an accident of search, not because he received legal notice.
What about now? Does he have the right to demand the agency show him proof that they attempted to notify him? I believe the answer is yes. If the agency complied with the law this should be a “no brainer”. I think it is incumbent on the agency to prove to him that they complied with whatever the law was at the time. The agency should show him returned letters, newspaper notices, etc. that prove their attempts at notice. It harms the agency not at all and would benefit him greatly.
But does he have the right to demand the agency tell him who your birth mother is, the woman with whom he had a sexual encounter that led to your conception?
I think the answer is yes. There was a point in time that, at a minimum, he had a moral and probably a legal right to know of your existence. Had he been notified of your existence at the time of the termination of his parental rights then he would of necessity learned your birth mother’s identity. Establishing or denying his paternity would have required he be told.
I don’t think the passage of time changes this right.
It seems unfair that the agency is hiding her identity from him simply because they CAN. Had he been informed who your birth mother was when his parental rights were terminated he would have the right to share this information with you. The law would neither prevent him from telling you nor force him to do so. It would be his personal choice.
Of course this is another reason why adoptees should be entitled to access to their original birth certificates. Knowledge of one’s identity should not depend on the personal choice or whim of one’s biological parent(s) but should exist as a matter of law.
You might want to read Lorraine Dusky’s recent post at Birth Mother/First Mother Forum “What adoption records belong to whom?” as she tackles the issue of ownership of adoption records. What’s yours? What’s mine? What’s ours? We may not all agree but the conversation is critically important.
Photo Credit: Chris Potter via Flickr