MFAR Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Fathers' Adoption Registry?
The Fathers' Adoption Registry is a record of putative fathers who voluntarily register any time before their child's birth or within 30 days of the birth. It applies to children born on January 1, 1998 or later, but not before then. If adoption proceedings begin for the child, and if the father has placed his name on the registry, the court can find the father so he can participate in the adoption proceedings.
What does "putative" mean?
The dictionary definition of putative is "generally regarded as such; supposed; reputed." In this context a "putative father" means a man who may be a child's father, but who:
- is not married to the child's mother on or before the date that the child was or is to be born; and
- has not established paternity of the child in a court proceeding.
How does a man sign up for the registry?
To register with the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry, a father must complete the MFAR Registration Form (PDF) sign it and return it to the Minnesota Department of Health. There is no registration fee.
MFAR Registration Instructions and Information or contact:Fathers' Adoption Registry
Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 64499
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0499
Call toll free: 1-888-345-1726
Why does the registry exist?
- to provide unwed "putative" fathers a way to protect their interests in preserving a parent-child relationship when that child is or may be placed for adoption
- to promote stability in adoptive placements by ensuring that a child's adoptive placement is not disrupted by a putative father initiating late or untimely legal proceedings.
Are men required to do this?
No, there are other options available to a man to identify himself as a father. For example, the mother and father can jointly sign a Recognition of Parentage form. The completion of this form identifies the father of a baby born to an unmarried woman and places that father's name on the birth certificate.
Also, if the father is known to the court, he may be recognized as a father and given notice of a pending adoption if he:
- substantially supported the child;
- was recently married to the child's mother;
- is openly living with the child or the child's mother;
- has been established by a court as the child's legal parent; or
- has initiated a paternity action within 30 days after the child's birth if the action is still pending,
However, the Fathers' Adoption Registry gives the father the opportunity to identify himself and ensure that the court knows he is a putative father and will send him notice of the adoption. If he fails to register with the Fathers' Adoption Registry within 30 days after the birth of his child:
- He may not be notified of any court action for the adoption of his child.
- The court may rule that he has given up any rights he has as a father in the adoption process.
- The child may be adopted without the putative father's consent.
What happens if the child is being put up for adoption, and the court contacts the father?
When a father is notified of plans for adoption, he will receive forms to complete and file. He may choose to pursue his rights as a father or he may choose to deny that he is the father and consent to the adoption. Information about the forms and filing requirements will be included with the notice of the plans for adoption.
If the father chooses to pursue his rights as a father, he will also be required to initiate a paternity action to legally establish that he is the child's father.
How will this affect the mother?
The woman named by the father in his registration will be notified by mail within two weeks of his registering. The registry will not affect her safety, and cannot be used to locate her. The only information about the mother in the registry will have been provided by the putative father. The registry cannot be a source of 'new' or previously unknown information about the mother and it is strictly bound by all data privacy laws.
How does a man file for paternity?
A paternity action is a legal proceeding and must be filed in court. The man may also be asked to take a paternity test. To find out more information about initiating paternity actions, call your county Bar Association or your area's legal aid office.
What if more than 31 days have passed since the baby was born, and the father didn't register?
If the registry was searched 31 days after the birth of the baby, and no father was registered:
- the father will not be notified of any court action for the adoption of his child unless he has identified himself to the court in another way;
- the court may rule that he has given up any rights he has as a father in the adoption process;
- the child may be adopted without the putative father's consent.
If the father registers more than 30 days after the birth of the baby but the search of the registry isn't requested until after he registers, he will be identified in the search. It will be up to the court to decide if he has met the filing requirements. If there is no adoption, the information may be used to contact the father about financial support for his child.
How many men will this affect?
An estimate of how many men will be affected can be calculated by looking at the number of births to unmarried women where the father's name is not reported on the birth certificate. Nearly one-fourth of the approximately 60,000 annual births in Minnesota are to unmarried women. Approximately 40 percent, or 6,000 of those births, do not report a father's name on the birth certificate. Many of these infants will not be placed for adoption, but the father may or may not know that.