Putative Registries & Adoption

Finally back from a long hiatus.

NLS has posted a glib and typically outrageous note indicting Tim Kaine for a policy for which NLS clearly has no understanding.  What’s worse, his follows on an equally uninformed column by the generally well-respected Marc Fisher. So I felt compelled to explain how important Virginia’s “Putative Father Registry” is and how non-controversial it would be to anyone who truly understood it.

To begin, a Putative Father Registry simply is a voluntary registry to a confidential database where an unmarried man may claim to be the father of a child. Nobody is required to register. The registry simply prevents the child from being adopted without a proper hearing on the issue of paternity. However, the registry is not the only means by which the man may claim paternity and prevent an adoption. The normal mechanisms for establishing paternity are still available. The only thing the registry does is put the burden on a father to make their own effort to assert their rights. Most of us can agree that we shouldn’t expect anything less from someone who expects to rear a child.

The central focus of our law in Virginia, as well as pretty much every jurisdiction of the United States, as it concerns children – whether the issue is adoption, foster parents, custody, visitation, or any other issue – is the Best Interests of the Child. Our society has made the clear choice that, ultimately, the desires or interests of parents are inferior to the interest of an innocent, defenseless child. And understanding this core standard is key to understanding the value and necessity of the Putative Father Registry.

Prior to the enactment of such registries (in Virginia and the majority of the remaining jurisdictions in the United States) adoption authorities were burdened by the task of tracking down putative fathers who might be long gone with little or no information with which to track them down. Turning our Department of Social Services and courts into investigative units was not only absurd due to its impracticality, it was an unfair punishment to the children.

This system essentially left these children caught in a bureaucratic limbo every time a father was not present to give his blessing for an adoption. And since single mothers are often the parents in the position of placing a child for adoption, this reality has ensnared and tripped up many children from achieving their right to live in a stable, loving home.

Finally, the previous system diverted resources that could have been trained on finding great homes for children. And the indirect consequence of a resource-starved adoption processing system is that delays discouraged potential parents from undergoing what looks like an overwhelming ordeal adding stress to what is already an emotional rollercoaster for parents pursuing an adoption.

I hope this diatribe is helpful information to anybody confused by the irresponsible ranting of NLS and Mr. Fisher.

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One Response to “Putative Registries & Adoption”

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