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So my girlfriend is pregnant and says she is giving the baby up for adoption – what can I do?

When parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, only the mother’s name will be on the birth certificate unless both parents agree to the father’s name being added to the birth certificate and the father and the parents sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity of the child.

If there is a father named on the birth certificate, he has the absolute right to contest any proposed adoption of the child.

If there is no father named on the birth certificate, it is possible that an adoption could proceed without his knowledge.

A father can take action to protect his rights by placing his name on what is called the Putative Father Registry. This does not establish paternity (that has to be done in a court proceeding) but before an adoption may be granted, a check must be done of the Putative Father Registry and any father who has indicated an intent to assert his rights as a parent for the child to be adopted must be given notice of the pending adoption.
A father may place his name on the Putative Father Registry even before the child is born.

In Missouri, the telephone number for the Putative Father Registry is (573)751-6378.

The father’s name being on the birth certificate or on the Putative Father Registry gives the father no rights except to be notified of an adoption proceeding.

Situations involving unmarried parents can be complex and getting legal advice from an experienced family law attorney at the earliest possible time can make all of the difference.