1. Parenting

THE OHIO PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRY-THE WHAT?

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“Oh, yes. Come with me, I have to copy the form for you. You’re representing the father, right?”

“Yes.” I suddenly got it. She thought I was a lawyer. Was I the first man in the history of Ohio to walk in and actually ask to sign the putative father registry?

She grabbed a document from a bin and we walked to the copier. I sat in a nearby chair. “Say,” I remarked as she made copies, “the guard on first floor didn’t even know this office existed.” She laughed. I wondered if a judge would accept that as an excuse for belated registration (“The guard told me the office wasn’t there, your honor.”) Ms. F_____ finished copying, put the form and another loose page in a file, and handed it to me. Then she gave me a pamphlet entitled DON’T BE LEFT OUT OF THE PICTURE.

I thought, this must be the “informational materials” required by R.C. 3701.065 Information of little value to me now that I had gotten this far. I tried to remember if it was Sartre who said that giving the Nobel Prize for literature was like throwing a lifesaver to a man after he had already swum ashore.

But I had my form. I went to the library, made four copies, and returned to work. I would wait until the weekend to fill the forms out. I had time. Besides, I had to look up the girls’ addresses. I didn’t know them by heart.

That Sunday evening, I started filling out the forms. I used a separate form for each potential mother. The form was easy. First came my name, address, and phone number, then the mother‘s information. Further down was the return address Very convenient. East State Street. I addressed the envelopes before filling out the rest of the form.

But I couldn’t finish the forms today. They had to be notarized. I couldn’t find a notary on Sunday. What if a putative father’s thirtieth day fell on Sunday and he couldn‘t file the form sooner? Fortunately, I did not have such a time crunch.

Something else struck me as odd. The notary line read: “____ day of _______, 19 ____.” Had the forms not been updated in three years? I changed the “19” to “20” and initialized it.

On Tuesday, at work, I had the form notarized. I slid the four forms into one large envelope and cast a final glance at the address. I was about to lick the envelope when--

I had put the wrong address on the envelope! Or had I? I looked again at the address I had written. It was the return address printed on the form and in the attached instructions. East State Street. But I had obtained the form from 255 East Main. So the forms must be mailed there. The address on the form, like the jurat date, hadn’t been updated. Yet if the correct address was not the address on the form, ODHS would have updated the form. So maybe the form was supposed to go to a central office on State Street? Well, it probably didn’t matter. If I sent the form to the wrong address, that office would forward the form to the correct address. Right? In a timely fashion? What if the guard sorted the mail? I decided I wouldn’t take the risk.

I then recalled that Ms. F_____ had stuck a loose page in the folder. Looking in the folder, I found a flyer: “We’ve moved!!!! Please address your mail to: Ohio Putative Father Registry 255 E. Main St, 3rd Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-5222.” Thank god I hadn’t lost or discarded the flyer. But I was still cautious. Why would the Putative Father Registry Office design a whole new flyer, make multiple copies of it, then leave it unattached to the form--instead of just updating the original form? There had to be a reason. I called the Registry to ask. A woman other than my beloved Ms. F_______ answered.

“Ohio Putative Father Registry.”

“Yes, I’m about to mail in the father’s form to you, could you please confirm the address?”

“It’s 255 East Main. We’ve moved. The forms haven’t been updated.”

“Okay, thank you.” That was settled. At home that night I made out a new envelope and mailed it. It had taken me longer than expected to get the forms filled out and mailed. But I went to bed feeling good that I had grasped my opportunities. I needed do nothing more until my next sexual encounter. Then registering would be easier because I had a blank form and knew the address. I could do it all by mail. From here on out I would never need even converse with anyone from the Putative Father Registry Office.

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