Safe Haven, Adoption and Birth Record Laws: Where are the Daddies?
Parness, Jeffrey A.
Arado, Therese A. Clarke
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An earlier version of this paper was presented by Professor Parness at the Third Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law under the title, "Safe Haven Laws: Where Are the Daddies?", at Capital University Law School on February 15, 2007. The paper explores the difficulties in American state safe haven, adoption and birth record laws, crystalized in the question: "Where are the daddies?" After briefly reviewing safe haven laws, the paper demonstrates how paternity interests are unreasonably, if not unconstitutionally, foreclosed when children are abandoned by their mothers. Comparable paternity losses due to maternal acts are then shown under adoption and birth record laws. Lost daddies are unwarranted because maternal privacy rights and interests should not easily foreclose chances for responsible fatherhood, especially where births result from consensual sex between unwed partners. There should be differences in law between abortion decisions and maternal decisions about children in safe haven, adoption, and birth record settings. These differences should reflect the differing societal interests, maternal interests, and paternal interests in protecting potential human life and in protecting born alive human life. Neither maternal decisional privacy nor maternal informational privacy foreclose expanded protections for legal paternity opportunities and rights. The paper concludes with suggested paternity law reforms.