January 24th, 2008
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I was recently contacted by a noncustodial parent who needed help in their situation, they wanted to know how to go about willingly terminating their parental rights to a child of theirs. This particular situation is not one that most people would think about when they think about a parent giving up their parental rights in a stepparent adoption.

Most stepparent adoptions are possible because a parent willingly decided that parenting was not for them, and abandoned their child with the custodial parent, however this situation is a tad different, and goes like this;

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who loved each other very much, and were planning to get married. They lived together and acted daily as a married couple, but had yet to make everything official. Then, due to past traumas on both sides, fear began to set in, and the two began to drive each other away. After finding out that she was pregnant, and knowing that her relationship was not stable, the mother fled with her unborn child, never telling the father that she was pregnant, moving out of state and dropping contact.


Several years and a phone call later, he learns of his now young grade school aged child, and is presented with an offer to become involved, have visits, pay child support, share custody, or…give up his parental rights and allow the man that the child has grown up knowing as ‘daddy’ to do a stepparent adoption. The man wrestled with the decision, talking with his family, friends, and reflecting on the situation. When it came down to it, he couldn’t bring himself to disrupt his child’s life. He knew that the child was happy, healthy, and had a stable family, and felt that introducing himself, his wife, and other children into her now quiet life would be too upsetting. He saw to peaceful homes being torn apart, and made the decision to sign over his rights. He has asked that the child know about him, that the adults stay in contact with each other, and that his child know that they are welcome in his home when they come of age and are ready to meet him. He did his best to make the fairest decision for his child, out of the most unfair of situations.

This is not often the side that we think of when we think of noncustodial parents and stepparent adoption. We see people who walk away from children, we do not stop to think about those who wrestle with the decision, and ultimately sign away their rights out of love for their child, and wanting them to have an easy and peaceful home life.

23 Responses to “Is It Always Abandonment?”

  1. John says:

    The Mom hides the pregnancy, keeps the dad in the dark until she wants something, his TPR so that her husband can adopt this man’s child. Mean and cruel, Dad doesn’t even get to know his child, just pay up a huge amount of back child support or sign here. I think there is a special place in the afterlife for people just like her, it is warm there. Thank goodness the child has one caring parent. What a sad story. John

  2. Deb Donatti says:

    Why does this father feel like he has no place in his child’s life? Because the mother created the situation by hiding the pregnancy?
    Personally I think a child CAN understand, and love two fathers, I see it in my own family every day. Asking this man to stay away and sign away his evolvement sounds like what is comfortable for the mother and not necessarily best for the child (and father.)
    I would encourage this father to get to know his child and not allow this mother to continue to make him believe he has no value to his child.

    • latinwoman says:

      I have a similar situation the difference is that at the time I got pregnant it was between two guys and they both knew but I thought I was sure it was one of them so he signed the birth certificate and everything but come to find out he wasn’t so now my son is ten and i got intouch with the other guy and i told him and my son looks just like him so there is realy no doubt he saids he doesn’t want to change things and have my husband adopt him I was ok at first but he his married and my son is not the only child he had show up years after the fact he recognized his daughter but not my son it bothers me people tell me to get child support from him but I am not sure what i want to do cause basically he wants nothing to do with my son what should I do act like i never found him or make him do his responsability.

  3. John says:

    Great solution Deb. A lot better all the way around than just walking away. John

  4. tiftif68 says:

    Ok-my question is regarding the child – did the child have to know he/she was adopted before the adoption could happen or was this child considered too young to know?

    My situation is kinda like this – except bio knows about child, refuses to do right by child, my ex husband is the only “dad” my child has known. Now at 12 my ex is wanting to adopt and we have to tell my child. I think this will cause emotional drama – any advice?

  5. mike74 says:

    I am not sure where to actually post this comment/question, but I hope that someone may be able to help me get in the right direction for answers. I have a beautiful little 6 year old girl, that when she was 3 months old her biological mom walked out. The last time she saw her was when she around a year old and her biological mother and parents acted as though she was a burden. I am now married to the only mother my daughter has really ever known and we were trying to get information on my wife adopting her because I am in the military and may be deployed soon and we wanted to make sure that if anything happened to me that my wife would have no problems later on. Now, after almost 6 years of no calls or mail or any contact, my daughters biological mom decides to call out of no where and start making demands on seeing my daughter. I amnot sure of what to do. I know that she has some rights, but im affraid she is just going to tear my daughters world apart and cause problems for her if I allow her to come around. She has already started lying to my wife and yelling at her on the phone. I would really prefer that she didn’t come around or call at all. I am lost as to what to do. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated in this matter.


    • katy24 says:

      i know how u feel i’m a stepmother wanting 2 adopt my 10yr old stepson but my husbands ex-wife is causing problems constantly cussing me out sending me nasty messages on myspace & she even took family photos off my page so heres my advice DO NOT under any circumstances let the bio mother back in she knew what she was doing when she walked away (just like my husbands ex knew what she was doing) parenting is a full time job not just cuz u feel like it that day,& my guess is if u take her 2 court 2 sever her parental rights (thats what we’re in the process of doing) once u have her parental rights theres nothing she can do & by the way tell ur wife not 2 listen 2 the garbage ur ex spouts because if shes confidant that shes a good mother & she loves ya’lls daughter then she has nothing 2 worry about, somebody once told me something it went, Why do i keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when i stop. ur ex is ur wifes hammer just like my hubbys ex was mine but now i’m just gonna let the courts & our lawyer handle it u should do the same & be sure 2 keep a record of every time she calls & what she says either 2 u or ur wife

  6. clodb says:

    My daughter is weeks shy of turning 16, i am
    and i am now Happily Married and with two other daughters from my Husband, the Biological father, has been in and out of her life speridocally for many years i married when she was 5 my Husband and I have taken care of her together since then. He and I are now trying to have my Husband legally adopt her, according to him she needs stability and his last name, it turns out my Daughter had been wanting this for many years, she wanted this for a long time, to my surprise it was her that asked me to do something so that DAD and I can all finally be a family and all have the same last name. My husband adores my Daughter and naturally my Daughters loves her DAD! The Bio he is extremely upset refusing to sign anything, and not wanting to give up his rights, but he doesnt understand that she is not a baby, and he has never financially taken responsibility for this girl.

    My Husband has been her Father all these years that is all she’s known, and that is all she wants why cant the Bio Understand that. A man can get a woman pregnant but that doesnt make him a father! it’s what my Husband is doing for her that has won her over.

    What do you think i should do? i am going thru the grinder with this deadbeat father.

    • bayo1 says:

      clodb, my story is very similar. Only my son is 7 years old. His Bio has only seen him 4 times in the boy’s life. I tried for many years to get him to be a part of his son’s life without success. Now, my husband wants to adopt him and give him his last name, but the Bio will not give up his rights. Anyone have a suggestion on what to do?

  7. sooz1972 says:

    Clodb, your story sounds very similar to mine. My ex got caught up in alcoholism & drugs right around the time our daughter was born and ended up leaving when she was 4 months old. At first he was living in the same town and would take her for a few hours once a week–until I caught him driving drunk with her twice. He moved 300 miles away, and we divorced. He visits her about once a year and on very rare occasion do I receive anywhere near the full amount of child support. I remarried a little over a year ago but my daughter has known my husband since she was about 7 months old. She calls him daddy and my ex is referred to as “her other daddy.” He pays her health insurance, helps with discipline, potty training, tucks her in, reads her books, etc. In every way, he is her daddy. My ex is more like some uncle she rarely sees. She’s almost four and she knows who he is and knows that he is a daddy too. I can see how much it hurts her that he doesn’t come to see her. She’s old enough to talk to him on the phone and it’s heartbreaking whean she says “I haven’t seen you in a long, long time.” He says he’ll come see her and then for one reason or another, he doesn’t. He just served me with papers to try to get his child support reduced, saying he doesn’t work in the same field and wants to cut his pay in half to work at a gas station 30 hours a week. I could fight it, but I brought up to him that my husband would like to adopt her. He agreed right away with the stipulation that our daughter always knows that he still loves her. (Of course I never tell her any different.) I told the ex that he is still welcome to phone contact and visits once in a while, just for my daughters sake since she remembers him. It will be up to her when she’s older if she wants any contact. I hope that’s the right thing to do and not just totally cut off contact. My biggest fear is that if something were to happen to me, she would go to live with him and he is a hardcore alcoholic, a diagnosed manic depressive, and lives with an abusive girlfriend and their new baby. He can’t hold a job, handle a simple bank account or keep himself sober. Deep down he’s a good person, but he is just simply a mess. He (quote) “enjoys living on fringe of society.” I would hate for my daughter to lose the only family she’s ever known, my husband and his wonderful family. Anyway, have any of you been in this situation and what do you think about letting him still have contact? Good/bad idea?
    (Sorry for the novel!)

  8. hereshoping says:

    I am also in the middle of a step-parent adoption. My ex and I went back and forth for months about him seeing my son, who is about to turn 4. My ex would make times and dates to come see my son, but then would not show up or call. He last saw my son in June 2006. He would disappear for a few months and then pop up and ask to see him. We were ordered to mediation after our divorce, and my ex would not cooperate in setting it up, so I was sending him temporary plans so he could immediately start seeing our child, until we went to mediation to make permanent orders. I sent him the last one in December 2006, and I never heard from him again. He is almost 28, and just moved back in with his parents and called me out of the blue in January. I informed him at that time that my husband and I were starting to pursue step-parent adoption, and of course he is now contesting it, saying I denied him visitation and I refused mediation. I am in a panic about having him come back into my son’s life. He never showed an interest in him before and I believe he still is not interested now, his mother has started nagging him about seeing my son. My husband has been in his life since he was a year old, and has been the only person my son has ever seen as his daddy. He is so young, and so attached to my husband, I don’t see a way it would be a benefit to confuse him and cause him trauma by sending him with a stranger that has never wanted him. My ex is a little off, incapable of forming a bond with anyone or ever showing love or affection. Has anyone gone through this and were they successful in their step-parent adoption? My ex doesn’t drink or do drugs, he just doesn’t care about anyone but himself.

  9. adams9723 says:

    I’m so glad I found this page! It’s a relief to know that there are other people going through the same things I am! My husband and I have been together for 7 years. My oldest daughter is 8 now. Her biological father signed off his rights 4 years ago. He was $12,000 behind on support and quit coming around to see her anyways. Well, now he’s got two young sons and his fiance contacted me just a few days ago. She says that he really misses our daughter and wants to see her in anyway possible. I don’t know what to do. My brain says to give him another chance….but my heart says that he made a choice and he should have to deal with it. My biggest fear is that he’ll hurt my daughter again. My daughter knows that she was adopted and knows that her “real” daddy is the man that’s been there for her the past 7 years. If anyonce has been through something like this please let me know! I’d love to get some advice!

  10. aforrester says:

    Me and my ex-wife were married for three years. We had a daughter who was four at the time of the separation. My wife at the time was going through alot emotionally and we tried marriage counseling and she even went on drugs for her mood swings. It was not helping. The last year of our marriage was not healthy for anyone in our family. We got a divorce and she was always unavailable to let me see our daughter. Then she would state to the courts and mutual friends I was never there for her. She had a hatred in her heart for me and still 7 years later tries to ruin anything I do. I tried to keep communication open but every time I call I get continued harassment about people I’m with and what I’m doing. Stating “oh if you are doing that, I’m not getting enough Child Support”. Since 2001 she has raid my support from 85 dollars a week to 250 dollars. I pay one thousands every month and believe me I’m no money maker…between 25k-28k a year. Now I move out of the state of Florida for 2 years right after my ex-wife was married to her new husband. I told her that I was going to school and would be hard for me to contact her. She asked me when I was going to start school I told her promptly on Aug. 1st of 2006. I went to my families house over a weekend in Maryland in September and low and behold I have some mail for the Clerks office of the state of FL. In the letter it stated that there was a petition for adoption by her new father filed on Aug. 1st. I had 30 days to contest and guess what now its been 35 days. I missed my chance. So I tried calling over and over and of course my calls were ignored. I had to return to school for the remaining of the semester. When I came home this time I noticed another letter, this one stated that my rights have been removed but I still have to pay support. Still 2 years later I am paying 1k a month, now I could not finish school (money issue) and still I am working my rear end off to keep my head above water. It just doesn’t seem right. My rights were stolen from me and I have to pay. Sorry Just been a long time since I have let this out and its not a day that goes by I don’t think about it. Lawyers are going to charge me so much to resolve it, I just don’t know what I am ever going to do. I miss my daughter so much and I make so little to do anything.

    Ok I’m sorry if this is in the wrong post but I just had to say something for so long.

  11. jmoran1 says:

    I have a complicated situation and would love to hear any insight as to how to go about getting it straightened out. I have a 9 year old daughter. Her bio father knows of her and has taken a paternity test. He is a Canadian citizen and moved to Taiwan when she was 16 months old. He has never had anything to do with her let alone support her in any way shape or form. I am married now and we have a 11 month old. My husband wants to adopt my oldest child making us one complete family in every way shape and form. I know that the process could go into a default under abandonment, but getting it there is the problem. I am getting the run around from different people. Since the bio father is not a us citizen nor lives here there are hardly any people willing to take the case. They all say it is too complicated and the red tape will drag it out forever. Is this wrong? Couldn’t it be farely simple? Any replies are appreciated.

  12. jmo1978 says:

    I don’t know where to start this and or if this is the right place to try to find some sort of help here. I am a mother of a son who lives with his father. We have shared custody/rights and responsibilties. I pay my ex child support and i am ok with this. My son is thriving and healthy and is happy. However the problem I have is this. My ex refuses to go along with our court order and visitation schedule. This has been going on for almost 3 years now. I have only seen my son when the time seems to fit their needs not mine. Also the visits are only for a few hours and never what our court order states should happen. Anyway, I was approached from my ex with a solution if you will that his wife adopts my son and we establish a new visitaion schedule, I have to basically give up my rights to him so this could happen. I am very uncomfotable with this. I don’t want to give up rights to my son, but I want to see him. I just don’t understand why we can’t go back to court and have our case looked at again. I know that a judge would question why I never faught this but my ex continued all along to tell me that my son wasn’t ready to see me, but everytime that we do see each other he is glued to me and doesn’t want to leave me. I’ve tried talking about setting up new visitaion with my son, however my ex always says that my son is too busy and stuff like that, my son is 10 by the way. I just need some advice on this. I do not want to give up my rights as his mother. How is that process done, I keep in contact with my son, however most of the time no one answers the phone or its through emails…what should I do????

  13. mmswdsmjs says:

    I am the stepparent trying and wishing I could adopt my step-daughter. I have been in her life since she was 6mos old. Her bio-mother abandoned her when she was 13mos. Her father and I married the following summer in hopes of proceeding with the adoption process as soon as we had been married for 6mos. We filed as soon as we could and we got a hearing date. Of course her bio-mother would not sign over her parental rights, she suddenly wants to be in her life. (small side note: this woman has 4 biological children and has never raised any of them, she has had them all taken from her!!) The courts took her parental rights for abandonment (1yr) and nonpayment (never paid support). The next hearing was the best interest hearing and we lost this battle.. Soon after the courts then proceeded to grant her weekend visitation everyother weekend. This little girl had only ever known me as her mother, and now we get to explain to this little angel baby at the age of 3 that she has 2 mommies. Our daughter was also diagnosed with reactive atachment disorder from the lack of bonding and neglect she had as a direct result of living with this woman for the first 13 mos of her life.!! It is horrifying how all this destroys the childs life, any chance of a “normal” upbringing. So guess what, her bio-mother visits everyother weekend for about 2 yrs, and suddenly disappears again, BIG SURPRISE!! So we are 6 weeks away from having another year of no contact, and I have every intention of filing for adoption AGAIN, and our daughter gets a letter from her in the mail today!!! I can’t stand this! She was just starting to get better.. She struggles in every area of her life, she has a hard time in school, with her siblings (we also have 4yr old twins), with us, everywhere she goes she has a hard time fitting in and adjusting, we were just starting to see major improvements in her emotional maturity and recovery from RAD and BAMMMMM, here we go again.. Is there help for us, for her???????

  14. scarllettbegonia says:

    I want to throw a different light on things for all of you. I was 4 when my mom left my loser dad. I was 8 when her new husband adopted me. Life went on. When I was 17 I made contact with my bio dad. When I was 21 I formed a relationship with him, he grew up and wasn’t a loser anymore. We grew very close. (Side note, if the parent has abandoned the kid, you can avoid making them sign rights over by running newspaper publications in cities where they may live, if they don’t respond, the court automatically erases the rights) My step-dad that adopted me, we were not close and he and my mom divorced after 12 years. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time. My bio dad inherited a large sum of money. He began sending me money every month that, literally, saved my and my son’s life. He died very suddenly of a stroke. His will left all to his girlfriend. He knew she would follow his verbal wishes that she continue sending money. Guess what! She isn’t speaking to me anymore!!! Imagine that. I have ZERO legal rights to contest the will because in the eyes of the law I am not his child. An option to adoption? Have the last name changed instead. That costs maybe $100.00 and it becomes the kids legal name. You don’t even need a lawyer! Just something for everyone to think about from a different standpoint. You never know what the future holds and you never know what your kid is going to feel or think when they are no longer kids.

  15. elting7243 says:

    Ok so I have a six year old almost seven. Her father is not on the birth certificate and there has been no paternity test done. Thank goodness I say because I am like most women on here who have had abusive men in there lives. I got a protective order against him 3 years ago and he was only in her life 3 months prior to that and has maybe seen her 6 times at the most since then cause he has been in and out of jail for alcohol/drugs, domestic violence, etc….. I am engaged and will be getting married in a few months and my soon to be hubby would like to adopt her. She calls him dad and calls her father by his real name and does not like him or want to see him. Do I have to get him to terminate his rights, or can we just have my fiance adopt our adorable little girl???? Help I never want to deal with this man again?

  16. carcar1967 says:

    When I met my wife, she was three months pregnant with my step-daughter. The biological father refuses to have anything to do with herand even denies that she is his daughter. When she was born my wife did not put his name on the birth certificate. Because of this, do we have to get him to terminate his rights? I am the only father that she has known. I want to adopt her as my own.

  17. jmc6 says:

    i think you got to check with the state. I know in my state (hawaii) I was able to change my sons name because his father wasn’t listed on the BC, so I didnt need his permission. I hope its the same with adoption because my husband wants to adopt him too. My daughter who is from the same father, his name was listed on the BC so in her case we will have to get her bio Dad’s consent for adoption. I don’t even know where he is and he has not paid any child support ever for both of them, but in my daughters case we just need to wait 3 more months and she will be 18.
    Anyway, I will post here if I find out what the situation will be for the adoption.

  18. mortbanger says:

    I am wanting to adopt my fiancées little girl after we get married. She has not had any contact with the bio dad since she was 6 weeks pregnant. My Fiancée has no idea where he could possibly be. The bio dads name is not on the BC so does he have any rights to the child? What would be the best procedure for me to adopt this little girl? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


  19. missylou31 says:

    OK this is my unique situation. My daughters father left us before she was born. He gave me $250 when I was 4 months pregnant and told me I’d never see him again. He also kept his word! When I filed for support, I found out that his name was an alias. She’s 8 and “not for lack of trying” He’s still no where to be found for a DNA test. Her birth certificate reads “information not recorded” under her fathers name. Now I’m about to marry a man who wants to adopt her. Do I still need her sperm donors consent? I mean he abandoned us almost 9 years ago. What’s the easiest, cheapest way to go about doing this? Anybody know?

  20. cbarlage says:

    i have this problem, my ex-wife has not let me see or talk to my son in the past 3 yrs. due to i was a drug user. But i have been doing good,. She says since she is remarried that her new husband won’ts to adopt my son and that she would wipe out all the chid support i owe. But i still wont to see and talk to him.And she didi move out of Ohio to S. Caroline with out letting me now. So can she do the the adoption with out me saying yes or no?

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