The courts do not want a parent’s relationship with a child to be terminated unless another adult is willing, able, and ready to provide the support and love the child is entitled to, the courts want a child to enjoy the benefits of two parents. When both parents agree, in some cases, one or both parents’ legal relationship with the child will be terminated to make the child available for legal adoption. In some cases of child abuse and neglect, the child-parent relationship can be terminated against the will of one or both parents. Even if there are not any adoptive parents, the state will sometimes terminate parents’ rights when they have abused or abandoned the child.
THE “PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRY”: In the highly publicized custody battle known as the “Baby Richard Case,” an unmarried mother told the father a lie, informing him that his baby had died before birth. Despite being told that the child had died, the father searched public records and hospital records for confirmation of the death. Two months after the birth of “Baby Richard,” the father discovered that the mother had actually given birth and she had then given the baby up for adoption. The father filed suit against the adoptive parents in order to obtain legal custody of his biological child. The case was exploited by the media and ultimately, the child was taken from the only family he had known – his adoptive parents – and given to the biological father, a virtual stranger, as the nation watched the news footage.
In reaction to the heartbreaking scene, the Illinois’ legislature developed the “Putative Father Registry.” The registry is intended to provide legal recognition for the father. Under Illinois law, a man who wants to protect his rights to a child and claims to be the father, must register within a limited time frame, (prior to birth, or within 30 days after the birth in some cases, there may be a means of extending the time limit). Once the “putative father” is registered, he must be notified of any proposed adoption, he will have the opportunity to object to the potential adoption, and be heard. However, if a father doesn’t sign up properly with the Putative Father Registry, the adoption can be completed without the father receiving notification.
Fathers wanting to prevent an adoption – need to register with the IL Putative father Registry and then establish legal paternity proceedings w/ in 30 days to protect his rights. OTHERWISE:
- His consent will not be required for an adoption.
- He will not be notified that an adoption action has been filed.
- He will not be notified of any adoption action hearings.
- It will be deemed that he abandoned the child and the failure to register with Putative Father Registry shall be considered sufficient grounds to support the termination of any parental rights.
- He can be barred from claiming to be the father of a child in a paternity action.