Recent cases that awarded custody to the birth father of a child have prompted state legislatures to reform adoption laws that were originally intended to secure permanency for children who had lost both parents. Contemporary cases often involve unwed fathers who are not given the opportunity to approve or object to the adoption. However, judgments that favor the birth father in such cases cause the separation of the child from the only parents he or she has ever known, causing attachment disruption and other difficulties. States attempted to remedy the situation by either expanding their justification for the termination of rights of absent fathers or by providing an opportunity for substitute caregivers to assume long-term custody in lieu of adoption. Both strategies have the potential to disturb the stable living arrangements of children. This article reviews these legal responses and proposes that states permit an open adoption system in which birth parents have visitation rights. The process would encourage the stability of adoption, while providing opportunities for parental birth parent contact and visitation. Constitutional issues are considered.
Family Ties: Solving the Constitutional Dilemma of the Faultless Father.
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