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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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Dual Systems of Adoption in the United States

Dual Systems of Adoption in the United States

(p.279) 13 Dual Systems of Adoption in the United States
Cross Currents

Sanford N. Katz

Oxford University Press

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court set in motion the first fundamental change in American adoption laws in many decades. Ironically, this transformation occurred in a passing reference in a footnote in a dependency case. In that footnote, the Supreme Court mentioned that an unwed father should be afforded notice and an opportunity to be heard in his illegitimate children’s custody or adoption proceeding. By including adoption in the sentences it overturned longstanding adoption law, which did not require the consent of a father if his illegitimate child was to be adopted, nor entitle him to notice of the proceeding. The Court may not have realised that the immediate effect of a footnote in its opinion could delay adoptions in Illinois, and prompt even state legislature to revise its adoption statute, to provide some kind of notice to putative fathers who had met certain requirements like registering with a state agency. Voluntary relinquishment and involuntary termination of parental rights resulting in adoption have given rise to dual systems in the past forty years.

Keywords:   United States, Supreme Court, adoption, adoption law, custody, Illinois, fathers, voluntary relinquishment, involuntary termination, parental rights

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