Open adoptions have increasingly become the norm in Illinois, bringing the topic to the forefront when, historically, discussing the process openly was far less commonplace. With such an increased awareness of adoption, many biological fathers are asserting that they should be more involved in the entire process. When adoption is the final goal, fathers have been largely left out of the equation.

Sometime in the 1980s, open adoptions began to rise in popularity. Unlike so-called closed adoptions, birth mothers often keep in touch with adoptive parents in open adoptions. The level of involvement differs from family to family, with some birth mothers receiving regular letters or pictures, and others actively playing a role in the child’s life.

However, biological fathers have largely not been privy to this option. The 1970s did boost birth fathers’ opportunities by finally recognizing unmarried men as parents, but the adoption process was still largely left to women with little or no input from the father. Of course, in current times, fathers may play an integral role in the adoption and may even choose to parent the child alone without the help or support of the mother. Unfortunately, if the parents are unmarried, the burden of proving paternity is on the father, and obtaining custody from the point where paternity is established can take time, and sometimes even occurs after an adoption has already taken place.

Some birth fathers claim that tight deadlines for contesting an adoption are exceptionally difficult to meet when the process for establishing paternity can take a considerable amount of time. However, difficult does not necessarily mean impossible. Indeed, a considerable number of fathers in Illinois have successfully contested adoptions and gained custody of their child.

Source:, “Birth dads still fighting for bigger role in adoption process”, Leslie Mann, Dec. 31, 2015