“I am almost twenty years old and my daughter just turned three. I am writing to ask you how or what is the whole process with getting her father’s rights terminated. I have talked to him and he agrees with giving up his rights. He hasn’t been in the picture for almost a year and before that it pretty much went month to month with one lie after another.”
If another parent is willing to step in and become the legal parent, then most states will allow a voluntary waiver of parental rights as part of the adoption. Otherwise, the law generally focuses on holding parents responsible, having them support their children, and giving them the opportunity to visit and create a relationship. In some states, you wouldn’t be able to sue for termination of his rights, although the state social services agency may do so. In other states, you would have the ability to sue for termination on grounds such as abandonment, abuse, etc. You should consult an attorney to see what law says in your state.
First, please consider how your daughter’s life will be affected by having her father’s rights terminated and losing that connection. Such cut-offs can be very traumatic for children and have long-lasting impact. Before going to the extreme step of denying your daughter the right to a relationship with her real father, I’d suggest that you find a mediator or counselor to sit down with the two of you and have a conversation about what you both want for your daughter and how to get it. Put aside any leftover feelings about your relationship with your daughter’s father as a significant other and focus on your daughter and your relationship as co-parents. Ask him to do the same. Though you’re young (and he may be too), it is time to be mature adults and focus on what’s really important: the long-term welfare of your daughter. If your daughter’s father won’t come with you, see a counselor to learn the best ways to compensate for his absence in his life. Find ways to nurture healthy relationships with his side of the family. Remember, your daughter is not yours. She is a separate person who was created by two people and will have connections to and characteristics from both.