Serving a named father with notice of an adoption is always the safest course of action. If an expectant mother is not willing to identify the father, prospective adoptive parents have the options of accepting the risk or passing on the opportunity to adopt.
In our experience, few men who are served with notice, actually respond, in spite of what they may have said to the mother. The disadvantage of serving a man with notice is that it gives him a road map of how to challenge. The advantage is that if he fails to challenge within 30 days of service, the risk from him disappears.
The other risk in not serving the father is that if the birth mother has second thoughts about the adoption AFTER she signs her consent, she may attempt to use the birth father as her puppet to challenge the adoption. In fact, nearly every bad adoption story you have read about in the newspapers, came about in this way. Another risk is that a mutual friend of the birth mother and father will inform him of the adoption. The reality is many, perhaps more than half, of the expectant mothers with whom we work do NOT identify the father, and even if a mother identifies a man as the father, we have no way of knowing if he is, in fact, the father.
What a mother has to say about the father is also factor to consider. If he has other children he does not support or has a criminal history, it is unlikely that he will challenge. If that type of man were to respond to the notice, the prospective adoptive parents would have the option of attempting to prove that he is “unfit” and that even though he responded to the notice, his consent to the adoption is not necessary.