Deadbeat. Baby Daddy. Sperm Donor. These are very derogatory terms for biological fathers—sometimes deservedly so, sometimes not. Biological fathers (or birth dads) are sometimes non-existent in a crisis, forcing birth moms to make hard choices to either raise the child on her own or to place her child for adoption. Sometimes, birth dads are abusive, controlling, or involved in illegal or addictive activity. This may result in in Child Protective Services (CPS) getting involved, having the child placed in foster care. But in many cases, the biological father is a viable option for placement. Biological fathers ought to be involved in the process more. Please understand, I am not referring to cases of incest or rape or abuse. But other than that, fathers ought to be part of the discussion of foster care or adoption. Here are four reasons why.
1. Daddy Day Care
Remember the movie “Daddy Day Care,” with Eddie Murphy, where a few men got together and try to run a daycare? It was hilarious, but in the end, they got it right and became successful in what they did. It is possible that there are some dads out there who can raise a child, with help. Will Smith’s movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” is probably a better example of a single dad, battling homelessness and joblessness and becoming successful. Here’s the point: if we don’t expect much of biological fathers, they won’t deliver much for us. We should at least give them an opportunity to succeed and have an opportunity to be in involved in their children’s lives before foster care or adoption becomes a real option.
2. Biological fathers have extended family
I loved my grandparents! My grandmother was the matriarch of the family, planning trips to Coney Island, Six Flags, and Central Park in New York. Spending time with them was like having a second family. I never spent time in the foster care system, but if I had, they would have been a perfect fit. The trend toward kinship foster care and kinship adoption is sometimes a perfect fit and ought to be considered in many cases. If the biological dad is not a viable option for placement, what about his family? The biological dad’s side of the family may offer options that have not previously been considered. We sell ourselves short when we do not consider the biological father’s extended family.
3. Biological fathers deserve the option of an open adoption
I have 6 adopted children. Out of those children, I have open adoptions with two birth dads. An open adoption is a legal agreement in which the biological parents have communication with the children involved after adoption. This can come in the form of cards, phone calls, or face to face visitation. The frequency and mode of contact is spelled out in an adoption agreement. My relationship with my kids’ birth dads have been positive and have been win-win situations for all involved. Yes, it can get awkward when two daddies are in the room. But when my children see their birth dad and their adopted dad getting along and planning for their well-being, they know they are loved by many people. It takes guts for a man to relinquish his parental rights, but knowing there will be some type of communication in an adoption makes it easier. Biological dads deserve this option.
4. Biological fathers may not know they are fathers
When a child is place for adoption, the biological dad may not know that that he has a child. Perhaps he left without being told that mom was pregnant. Doesn’t he have the right to pursue raising that child if the biological mom cannot? In Arizona, before parental rights are severed, the court must proceed with a “publication.” A publication is a notice placed in newspapers announcing that the biological father has a child being placed for adoption and that if he still wants his rights, he needs to come forward. Sometimes, a biological father does come forward and establishes paternity. And sometimes that dad does a great job raising that child. This is a rare, but important option that ought to be available to men.
I love being an adoptive dad! I’ve been given the mission of caring for other dads’ kids. I wouldn’t trade that mission for anything in the world. However, if we expected more of biological fathers, we might get more. They might step up to the plate and bat a home run. Dads or their extended family could be an appropriate option for placement. Whatever the crisis, dads ought to be involved in the process and given the opportunity to have a place in the future of their children.