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What is the MN Fathers' Adoption Registry? Should a man care?

Pope Francis is on the record as saying, "Who am I to judge?" His query was made in the context of the question of how to address the issue of same-sex orientation among the Roman Catholic clergy. A lot of people hailed his comment as reflecting solid Christian values. A lot of others decried it as flying in the face of church doctrine.

Regardless of one's view on that subject, the reactions generated reflect a reality that can't be ignored. As much as we uphold the ideal of not prejudging someone on the basis of suspicions, the urge to apply social norms and make judgments is strong. And in a bid to try to reinforce the ideal, laws are passed for the sake of protecting individual rights.

In this vein one might place the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry. MFAR is our legislative response to the touchy issue of balancing the interests of all the parties in adoption proceedings. It is specifically focused, though, on assuring the rights of a man who may be a child's father.

Some might be inclined to think that the MFAR is the state's attempt to hold a father accountable for child support. That could happen, but as the state's Health Department website notes, the main objective is to make sure men who may be fathers and want to exercise their rights have the chance to do that before an adoption is completed.

With the MFAR, men have up to 30 days after a child's birth to voluntarily register as the possible father. By doing this, the state is obligated to notify the man in the event a child is placed up for adoption so that he can protect his parental rights if he desires to maintain a parent-child relationship.

If no adoption occurs, the state may look to the father for child support. But there is a presumption that the man would be inclined to meet the obligation since he voluntarily registered with MFAR in the first place.

As with all family law matters, whenever someone has questions about rights and possible legal obligations, the best thing to do is to consult with an experienced attorney.

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