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.