One of the more recent developments in Adoption Law in Virginia is the Putative Father Registry. The idea behind it is simple, but there are many difficult issues involved in how it is used.
The basic idea is that a man who has had sexual intercourse with a woman is on notice that a pregnancy might occur. For this reason, the responsibility is upon him to protect his rights with respect to the child, and not upon the woman to track him down. He must register with the Putative Father Registry in order to ensure that the adoption cannot take place without his being notified.
If his location is not reasonably ascertainable, the adoption attorney may cause a search to be made of the Putative Father Registry. If he has not registered, then his consent to the adoption is not required. The Certificate of Search issued by the Registry showing that no one has registered as the father of the child is sufficient in terms of notice for the adoption to proceed.
If his location is known, the statute allows the attorney to serve notice upon him of his duty and right to register, and if he still fails to do so, then the adoption may proceed without serving him with formal notice.
It is my opinion, however, that any time the location of the birth father is known, he should be served with notice. There have been cases in Virginia which have raised issues concerning the Constitutional Right of Due Process, which includes the right to receive notice and an opportunity to be heard before anything may be done to prejudice one’s rights. In my mind, these issues are not fully resolved, and I always serve any birth father I can find. I also always serve him by publication, if he cannot be found. Some adoption attorneys do not take this position and rely only on the provisions of the Registry.