Its a shame that this article doesn't paint the issues of natural parents' rights a little more clearly in the state of Utah. Utah and Florida are both horrid states when it comes to adoptee rights and unwed parental rights.
Here is the story.
Forgotten fathers: In an unexpected pregnancy, unwed dads don't get much say
BY LISA LARSON
When a crisis pregnancy happens, three lives are immediately changed forever - the mother's, the unborn baby's and the father's.
Statistics show men are typically less involved, if at all, in the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy, leaving the woman to make all the decisions regarding her future and the life of the child. But some men are breaking that trend by staying involved and dealing with questions that seem to have no easy answers.
David*, 23, found himself facing the tough questions a few months ago when his girlfriend found out she was pregnant. His initial reaction was one of shock. Then his mind started looking toward the future.
"I wasn't as much like 'oh crap' as I was like, 'what's going to happen now?'" he said.
Even though David knew a lot of men would immediately split after hearing the news, that wasn't what he wanted to do.
"I know that wouldn't be the right thing to do, just to leave your kid," he said. "I know what it's like to grow up without a dad. That's the reason I fought so hard" to stay involved.
The couple planned to get married a few months before the baby's birth but their relationship was not working out. David called off the wedding but told the baby's mother he still wanted to be involved.
The baby's mother declined to comment for the story.
Since then, David has been included in some of the milestones of the pregnancy such as feeling the baby move and going to the ultrasound.
"We're just trying to be civil and be mature towards each other and be on the same team," David said. "She's been really mature about this. ... Everything I've wanted to do she's been really mature and let me have a part in it."
Ultimately the power lies with the woman.
"I think it's all up to her and I just have to go along with it," David said. "That's what the mom gets. She's carrying the baby. She can tell me."
It's a position not all men relish, in fact, some would like a little more say.
When John* was 29 he was in a crisis pregnancy situation and learned how little input he, as the father, actually has.
"It can be really tough," John said of his experience with his child who was placed for adoption by the birth mom.
Because of circumstances surrounding their relationship, John was only in contact with the mother of his child every month or so and the contact was usually made through someone else. When the baby's due date drew close he contacted her again and found out she'd already had the baby and placed it for adoption.
"I felt a little left out," John said. "I would have liked to have been involved in selecting the family."
What many people don't know is that men need to register a commencement of paternity with Utah's Office of Vital Statistics within 24 hours of the child's birth in order to have a legal say in adoption decisions. Otherwise, it's up to the woman.
By taking court action, the man is saying he wants to be the parent instead of opting for adoption, said Jeff Duncan, director for the Office of Vital Statistics in Utah.
Some women will avoid that road block, however, by simply giving birth in another state, Duncan said.
"I think because of the fact that the woman is carrying the baby it is so much easier for the natural father to detach from the situation," John said of the many men who don't stay involved with the mother or the child.
Not all men want to be so detached.
"The gentleman in the situation gets a bad rap," said Maria Chavez, office specialist with the Utah Office of Vital Records. "Not all these dads are bad."
Chavez's comments are based on the number of children placed for adoption in Utah - at least 150 per week according to Chavez's records - and the slight increase over the years in the number of men filing for a commencement of paternity. In 2003 just 23 men filed for the commencement of paternity. Last year 44 men filed. While the increase is small, Chavez said it's an upward trend she expects will continue through this year.
"I think it's great that these dads step up and are trying," she said.
In David's case, since the mother plans to keep the baby, how involved he will be in his baby's life is a decision he and the baby's mother will have to work out. Regardless of their decision, David knows his life is forever changed, not only in his responsibilities but in the way he is perceived.
"I feel really judged by girls now. 'Oh he got a girl pregnant, he's a monster,'" David said, quoting the kinds of things he thinks other people are saying.
Some of the major stresses for David stem from the desire to provide financial support for his child.
"Money is the only thing that stresses me out," David said. "Love, effort and time I have, money I don't."
His family has been supportive from the beginning but he knows some people see his decision not to get married as an indication that he's not taking responsibility.
"I am taking the responsibility because it racks my mind and puts a weight on my shoulders that I can't take off," he said. "It's on my mind more than it's not."
There are days when he wakes up excited about the new life that will soon join the world, but other days he feels overwhelmed by stress. Either way, he recognizes things didn't turn out how either he or the child's mother planned.
"It was stupid and irresponsible what we did," he said.
His suggestion to anyone in an intimate relationship is to think before you're in the heat of the moment about whether you care about the person enough to take on the responsibility if the situation results in a child.
"It's something you have to think about because it might happen," he said.
* To respect the privacy of the men in this story, their names have been changed.