Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), along with U.S. Senators Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK), today introduced the Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2013 in the House and Senate. The bill would establish an automated National Responsible Father Registry to help place children in permanent homes more quickly, and protect mothers' privacy and safety, possible fathers' rights, and the interests of adoptive parents by defining a legal process for a father to claim rights to his child.
Under this legislation, a father would register within a certain period of time after the birth - as determined by each state - and if he chooses not to, a family wishing to adopt can do so without fearing that a biological father will come forward years later and reverse the adoption. Responsible Father Registries currently exist in 34 states, including New Hampshire.
"As a former adoption attorney, I know firsthand how important a fatherhood registry is in helping families to adopt and provide a stable environment for children," Rep. Kuster said. "By establishing a national father registry, this legislation will protect fathers' rights, while ensuring families have a smooth and successful adoption process. I am pleased to join my colleagues from both chambers and both parties in leading this important effort."
"I am pleased to join with my fellow Members of Congress on this national effort to promote secure adoptions," Rep. Hartzler said. "Every child deserves a loving mother and father and adoption is a great way to unite a child who needs a home with a loving family. It's important that adoptive families have the assurance the adoption will not be interrupted in the future. That's why we are establishing a National Responsible Father Registry where men can assert their rights to fatherhood in the event of a future adoption. This court-tested procedure will ensure fathers' rights are protected while also ensuring adoptions proceed without fear of future disruption."
"We honored the important role fathers play in the lives of their children this past weekend. By establishing a national registry, we can better ensure that any father has the chance to be involved in the life of a child he may have fathered," Senator Landrieu said. "Currently, many proceedings involving child placement and adoption cross state lines, but states have no mechanism to cross-check their registries to identify possible fathers in other states. This bill would also provide protection to families going through the adoption process by preventing a father who did not register his interest from disrupting the placement of a child into a loving family."
"The role of the father in the family is something we, as a society, need to reaffirm and protect. This legislation promotes the rights of the fathers in our country who feel a responsibility to provide for and play a role in their children's lives. I am pleased to join Sen. Landrieu in this important endeavor to protect the parental rights of fathers everywhere," Senator Inhofe said.
The legislation would encourage all states with existing registries to provide their data to a national registry, as well as allow men who live in states without registries to register directly with the national database. This would allow men to receive notification of court proceedings in any state.