Exclusion zone

You are here

Primary tabs

    There are multiple accounts in adoption literature of fathers being deliberately excluded from decisions about the future of their infant. In some instances the mother's parents forbade her from maintaining contact with the father of her child, once the pregnancy was revealed. In other cases, after the birth the father was banned by hospital staff from seeing the mother and their child. There are examples of social workers intervening to prevent the father participating in discussions about the infant's future. His consent for the adoption to take place could be and was often dispensed with, because it expedited the process. In such situations, it can be argued that the father was forced to be absent.
    An adult adopted person searching for their father may be stymied by the omission of the father's name from the original birth certificate. The son or daughter, unaware of the background, may assume wrongly that not only was the father too uncaring to register his name, but also, by extension, he does not want to meet and to know his progeny. (To prevent this outcome, I had my name added retrospectively to my son's original birth certificate.)
    Misconceptions about the father may have snowballed within the adoptive family. The social worker perhaps chose to record only information that he or she felt was important and this is what would be passed on to the adoptive parents, who in turn may have selected what they shared with the adopted child. It is unlikely that the reputation of the father was enhanced by this serial censoring. In many cases he is likely to have disappeared from the narrative altogether.
    It is well to remember that the absence of the father from the birth record may represent his exclusion by others from the adoption process, rather than how he felt at the time about the mother and their child.


    During the era of forced adoptions, the placement of the child with adoptive parents was expedited if the father was deliberately excluded from the process. The absence of the father may be misinterpreted to mean that he was and is uncaring.