Do Birth Parents Have to Put Their Names on The Birth Certificate?

Regardless whether a pregnancy is planned or unplanned, the issue of clear parentage is crucial to the child being placed for adoption. The question of whether both birth parents have their names on the birth certificate, and any consequences thereof, is one that an adoption agency like The Adoption Alliance can help you with.

An Emotive Issue

As a married couple under Texas law, the husband is automatically assumed to be the father of any children in the relationship and will be named on the birth certificate. For couples that aren’t married, this can cause a dilemma. It can be hard deciding whether to put the father’s name on the birth certificate and there can be lots of reasons for this; abusive relationships and bad breakups are frequent reasons for wanting to leave the father’s name out of things.

What Does the Law Say?

Each state has their own laws regarding which names names appear on a birth certificate. The child’s name of course is added and the birth mother’s full name is always a requirement. In Texas, a mother’s maiden name should be listed on the birth certificate as well as her race, age, occupation, birth place, residence and marital status.
A father’s name on a birth certificate can be added or changed only after a court legal acknowledgment of paternity form has been signed and submitted. A father’s name can be removed from a birth certificate only if he is acknowledged as not the biological father or his parental rights have been formally and legally terminated.

What Are A Father’s Rights in Texas?

At The Adoption Alliance we like to encourage birth fathers to become involved in the adoption process. Steps can be taken to ensure a trouble-free legal adoption.
In Texas, there are several criteria which affect a father’s rights in relation to an adoption. Where the following applies, he is presumed to be the father and assumes parental rights:

  • Child is born during marriage to the birth mother or within 300 days from the end of the marriage
  • He acknowledges paternity of the child in writing
  • He consents to be named on the birth certificate
  • He promises – in writing – to support the child, or is ordered by a court to support the child
  • He has continuously lived with the child for the first 2 years of the child’s life and openly acknowledged the child as his own

For children born outside a marriage there is an established Texas Paternity registry for fathers to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. There are several exceptions to this including where he is unable to care for a child through mental illness and has voluntarily terminated his parental rights, among others.

Pros and Cons

The issue of whether to add the father’s name to a birth certificate is about more than how it affects the birth parents. The primary issue is the impact it has on the future of the child and how it can affect adoptive parents. The growth of the genealogical search industry is proof of how your genetic heritage shapes and molds you. The need to know where we come from is one that can tell us who we are and where we fit into the world.

A child who is adopted may at some point in the future wish to find out more about their birth parents. State law is careful to balance out this desire with the wishes of biological parents to retain their anonymity. However, there are certain instances where it could be essential to know more about a child’s biological heritage and the law allows a lessening of the privacy rights of birth parents for medical reasons. This is helpful for adoptive parents and older adopted children who wish to learn about any hereditary or congenital illnesses for example, in order that correct treatment or information can be obtained. Even so, the state still places restrictions on what information about birth parents can be accessed.

Another thought to consider is about the Texas Inheritance Rights issue. If a biological parent gives up a baby or child for adoption, but fails to ensure their parental rights are legally terminated and they die without leaving a will then in theory that adopted baby or child could inherit from their estate. This is why if you are thinking of placing your baby or child for adoption you should do so through an established adoption agency who can explain the legal issues around terminating your parental rights and ensure that all the necessary legal steps are taken.

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