Anytime a child is adopted in Illinois, the court must confirm that the biological parents’ rights have been terminated or voluntarily waived. But what if the father is unknown and he has no idea that an adoption proceeding is pending? The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services formed the Putative Father Registry to help address this problem.
A “putative father” is a man who may be a child’s father, but who was not married to the child’s mother before the child is born and has not established the fact that he is the father in a legal proceeding.
The Putative Father Registry is an online resource that the putative father must register to show that he is the legal father of the child and that he wants to have say in the adoption. The Registration Form asks for your name, address, Social Security Number, birth date, and other information about you, and as much information as you can provide about your child and the child’s mother.
After a father registers with the Putative Father Registry, the court will make sure he is notified if the child is the subject of a pending adoption. When the father receives the “notice of pending adoption,” he can then appear before the court in the adoption to assert his rights.
The timing of registration and further legal action is critical. In order to receive notice of a pending adoption, the father must first register no later than 30 days after the birth of the child.
Additionally, fathers who register with the Putative Father Registry must also begin legal proceedings to establish paternity within 30 days of registering.
While the Registry is easily accessible online, consulting with an attorney well-versed in the rules related to the Putative Father Registry and adoption law can make a tremendous difference in effectively establishing your parental rights.