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S. 939: National Putative Sexual Activity Registry

S. 939, a bill introduced to the Senate by Mary Landrieu, is one of the odder pieces of legislation I’ve seen in some time. It establishes a national Putative Father Registry, assembled from all the 50 states’ own Putative Father Registries. What’s a Putative Father Registry, you may wonder? S. 939 defines it this way:

(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this subpart, the Secretary shall establish and maintain an automated National Putative Father Registry that contains the information described in section 444(c)….

(7) PUTATIVE FATHER- The term ‘putative father’ means a man who has had sexual relations with a woman to whom he is not married and is therefore presumed to know that such woman may be pregnant as a result of such relations.

…the registry established or modified and maintained under subsection (a) shall contain the following information:

`(1) The name of the putative father (including any other names by which he may be known).

`(2) The date of birth of the putative father.

`(3) The Social Security number of the putative father.

`(4) The State of issue and driver’s license number of the putative father, if any.

`(5) The home address of the putative father.

`(6) The telephone number of the putative father, if any.

`(7) The name and address of the employer of the putative father, if any.

`(8) The name of the mother (including any other names by which she may be known).

`(9) The last known address of the mother.

`(10) The date of birth of the mother, if known.

`(11) The Social Security number of the mother, if known.

`(12) The race or ethnicity of the mother, if known.

`(13) The State of issue and driver’s license number of the mother, if known.

`(14) The city and State where possible conception took place.

So a putative father registry is like the nation’s very big little black book, a database of out-of-wedlock sexual activity. That’s really weird, and I don’t know what to think of it. On the one hand, I understand from the legislation why it exists — this is a way for men who’ve had sex with women to be put on the record as possible fathers of those women’s children, so that if those children later are removed from the mother’s custody (or if the mother dies) the putative fathers might be able to step in and claim the kids; secondarily the database exists so that kids who are on their way to being adopted can have that practical path smoothed by contacting absent fathers to formally sever their parental rights. On the second hand, this is a database into which a man voluntarily places his sexual history, so it’s not exactly like a Big Brother operation in that sense. On the third hand, the nature of sexual activity means that the sexual activities of women are entered into this database, involuntarily. And on the fourth hand, this means that the United States government is assembling a big nookie database, which frankly makes me nervous. Not personally or anything, mind you, but then again, if it did make me personally nervous it wouldn’t be, shouldn’t be any of Uncle Sam’s business.

What’s your opinion of “putative father” sexual history databases?

12 comments to S. 939: National Putative Sexual Activity Registry

  • Landrieu Pandrieu

    My opinion is that Mary Landrieu is absolutely insane. Is this a bragging rights database? What if a man wants to say that he had sex with a woman when he didn’t? Would Landrieu send out the sex investigators? Weird, weird, weird.

  • H Saxton

    Oh, calm down. This is about the right of a child to know both his mother and his father, and to facilitate the adoption of the child if his first parents are unable or unwilling to raise him.

    Pretty ineffective as a “bragging rights” venue. It’s not like this registry would be published in the NYT. Only those with a vested interest — the child’s guardians, for example — would have access to the information.

    • This registry can be a help, but it won’t live up to its billing. As I understand it, the potential father registers in his state, which registratiion is furthered to a federal database. The sex = duty requirement is just to avoid any excuses for not registering. But I cannot see how the national registry will work for states that have no registry. For example, Utah is a problem state regarding interstate adoptions, and it lacks a traditional registry. A father must file a paternty suit in a Utah court before he can register with the state of Utah. So if a man registers in Ohio, which has a direct administrative registry, how does that protect him in Utah, where adoption petitioners search its registry for claims filed in its state courts? Utah must either change its laws or decline the federal funding. I predict it will do the latter. Hopefully, I will be talking with someone from the National Council for Adoption this week, when I can ask them some tough questions.

  • Jacob

    Sounds like a waste of time. The people that would need to be found are people who probably wont self report one night stands… This is worthless government spending

    • Jared

      this isn’t about one night stands. you’re not naming every person you’ve had sex with. all your information is confidential, and in my case I KNOW that my ex GF is pregnant with my child. This would certainly help me in my Legal Battle right now. read further down for more about my situation

  • Jacob

    the only way this would work is if you implanted a sesor in evry mans tallywacker and one in every womens huhaha and when the sensors got close to each other an automatic report was generated… of course, my tallywacker is never getting one placed in it…

  • melissa

    This list is already available on a state basis. The national list would link up with other states in the case that a pregnant woman moved or gave birth to a baby in another state.

    I currently know of someone who adopted their son one year ago. They are now in a contested adoption court case with the birthfather. The baby is one year old. Had this list national list been in place, the birthfather would have linked up and could have contested the adoption before the birth, or shortly thereafter. And the adoptive family would not be facing the absolute agony of fighting for their child.

    For those of us in the adoption world, this is an absolutely essential list. It protects birthfathers, as well as all involved in adoption. On the surface it my sound “worthless” but there is so much more to read up on.

    Jim needed to do a little more research before writing such a careless opinion.

    • Anonymous

      Melissa, I am sorry to hear of your friend’s circumstance. That is terrible. However, the national putative list does not guarantee that your friend’s adoptive child’s father would have been notified. No list can do that!

      Not to mention that he might not have registered or known about the list.
      How can a father protects his rights without knowing about a putative father registry, which by the way more than half the nation’s states do not have.

      With that said, I hear other people talking about this list as a protection for adoptive parents and fathers, but at what cost.

      • Jared

        @Anonymous: how about the cost of missing my sons ENTIRE LIFE? how about the cost of NOT EVER knowing what happened to my child? I’m obviously not the only one facing this issue. I’ve retained an attorney who has dealt with multiple cases similar to mine. I’m not taking any chances. Whatever it costs… I’m not about to lose my child BC the mother wants to be spiteful.

  • Joe

    It is a bit of a joke.. Thing is, women need to be held accountable for naming the father. Period.

    And furthermore, adoption agencies need to be going to all measures possible to make sure the father is giving his permission before the child is put with an adoptive family, unless he truly is unidentifiable or unwindable. Right now, if the father is ‘unfindable’ they get by with a notice in a major newspaper. A contested adoption after living in a home, is tragic. Perhaps they should be required to hire a private investigator to discover who and where the father is.

    There are major issues with the putative fathers registries. Besides the obvious mentioned on this post (getting all men to register each time the have sex with a different woman), there is a major lack of awareness about the registries. Most men don’t even know they exist, and in fact, few people in the states health departments know they exist.

    A man should not loose his right to fatherhood just because he didn’t file some document. And that’s why anytime a mother doesn’t name the father, and the child is somehow adopted, the mother needs to be paying the fathers lawyers fees when he tries to get his child, plus face further criminal charges if she clearly kept the father and child apart intentionally.

    Still, it is currently the way it is.. So an expecting father should file if he thinks he might need to. Again, it would be terrible if you lost your child because you didn’t file. I’m in a bit of a situation right now, I’m an expecting father. But I don’t know where the mother is. So I got all the documents for all fifty states. And built the unofficial national putative fathers registry.

    it’s here:

    http://www.nationalfathersregistry.org

    Oh but hey,

    If we’ve got to register for each girl we have sex with,
    we should be able to just send a text message with her name,
    and have it logged into our ‘WHO I HAVE LAIN WITH’ journal.

    • Jared

      i didn’t read through all of these posts n replies. but here’s my deal and why i support it. I had “relations” with a woman that i was not married to. we went to our prenatals together and ultrasounds together and everything. I’m having a boy. things didn’t work out. so now the mother (my now ex GF) is hiding EVERYTHING from me. I no longer have any contact with her. I don’t have a mailing address, a place of residence or even a phone number for her. She “disappeared” as she tells her sister. I am completely capable to and want to raise my child. She does not. She’s not intending to inform me when she goes into labor. She’s not intending to tell me when the child is born. And she’s not intending to tell me where she’s intends to give birth. SHE IS INTENDING TO DROP OFF THE CHILD AT A RANDOM HOSPITAL, UNDER SAFE HAVEN LAW. This much she made sure she informed me of. This woman HAS STOLEN any chance that I have of raising my child. I’m from PA, and PA does not have a state level Putative Fathers Registry.
      I’m not like i’m listing my entire lifes sexual activity. I have one incident in which I NEED this type of protection from a woman who wants to ABUSE something intended for protecting infants from infanticide and abandonment.
      DO YOUR RESEARCH, the information given by the fathers is only released to the state level when “Diligence Searches” are performed. Meaning a child was put up for adoption or dropped off under Safe Haven Law and the “other” parent isn’t notified or is “unknown”.(In my case I was informed my ex intends to put Unknown on the birth certificate) So the state performs the diligence search and the first place they look is… YOU GUESSED IT!!!!!! THE PUTATIVE FATHERS REGISTRY!!!!! at which point I’ll be notified of any child turned over to the state/adoptive services that was born within a 90 day time frame of the date of birth. Once notified i assert my rights as the father, meaning informing them that i believe it may be my child and then take a DNA/ Paternity test. Once that is resolved, I have to go through the adoption process with my own child. BUT I don’t really care so long as I get to care for my own child instead of the mother spitefully giving away the child COMPLETELY DISREGARDING MY RIGHTS AS THE FATHER to which I would never know my child. Shes Due in December 2011. I want this to PASS. I need the help. without this bill passing I WILL lose my child. And I’m NOT ok with that. Dubbing this the Putative Sexual Activity Registry is completely degrading. In may scenario… THIS BILL IS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED.

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