For an adoption to happen, the legal parents of the child being adopted usually agrees to give up parental responsibilities. If a legal parent will not agree to give the child up for adoption, the adopting parents can ask the court to decide if the legal parent is unfit, or unable to care for the child.
The adopting parents must say in their petition why they feel the legal parent should not have parental responsibilities. There are several reasons why a court can decide the legal parent is unfit, like that a legal parent:
- Abandoned the child;
- Failed to care for the child's well-being in a reasonable way;
- Deserted or neglected their child; or
- Treated the child with extreme or repeated cruelty.
If the court decides the legal parents cannot care for the child, the court will end their parental responsibilities.
If the legal father does not agree, the other legal parent might have to go to court to complete the adoption. It is best to get a lawyer to help with this process. However, a father doesn't need to agree to the adoption of a child when he:
- Has legally given up his parental responsibilities;
- Is the father as the result of criminal sexual abuse or assault;
- Is related to the mother, and the mother was under the age of 18 when the child was conceived; or
- Is 5 or more years older than the mother, and the mother was under the age of 17 when the child was conceived.
In the case of agency adoptions, if one legal parent does not agree to give the child up for adoption, the court can end that parent's parental responsibilities if the parent will be shown at a later time to be unable to care for the child.
If the legal parent does not agree to give the child up for adoption and the court finds that the parent can care for the child, the adoption will not happen.
If the person being adopted is 14 years old or older at the time the judge approves the adoption, they must consent to the adoption.