In Roe v. Reeves, the adoptive parents appeal a family court’s decision where the birth father claims his consent was necessary prior to another couple adopting his child. The family court agreed with the father; the Supreme Court reversed stating that the father did not undertake sufficient good faith effort to assume parental responsibility and comply with the law.

The Supreme Court determined that the father paid or attempted to pay the mother about $100.00 toward the benefit of the child over the course of her pregnancy; during the same period he was spending $80.00 per month on tires. This is a no-no if you want to protect your rights. In addition, one of his initial text to the mother after she told him she was pregnant was to get an abortion and leave him alone. They determined that $100.00 was not sufficient to meet the statutory requirement needed for the father’s consent and relinquishment to be taken.

In making their ruling, the Supreme Court stated  that "[i]t is not enough that the father simply have a desire to raise the child; he must act on that interest and make the material contributions to the child and the mother during her pregnancy required of a father-to-be…" to make his consent necessary prior to the adoption of his child.

This case put meat on the bones of Section 63-9-310(A)(5)(b) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended . This section states that the consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption is required of the father of a child born when the father was not married to the child’s mother, if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents six months or less after the child’s birth, but only if the father paid a fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability, for the support of the child or for the expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy or with the birth of the child. We now know that $100.00 and his latent interest after his initial rejection of the mother and the child is not enough to require a man’s consent.

The Supreme Court is clear and rightfully so that an unwed father must  demonstrate a full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood by coming forward to participate in the rearing of his child in order for this relationship to obtain constitutional protection and the necessity to have his consent taken.

Action not words is the theme of this case. 

  • Sometimes the best evidence in a contested adoption case can be the refusal (over a long period) to pay child support for other children that the birth father has had.

    Great post!