Thursday, December 16, 2010

Biological Fathers

In conversations about adoption we don't hear enough from biological fathers. It's true that the responsibility for a pregnancy lies more with the mother in a physical sense (she has to carry the child in her body!), but I don't necessarily agree with the viewpoint that pregnancy is a something a woman has a "right" to control totally. I don't want to parse words or gray areas here--I realize the issue is complex and varies case by case. My point is that I wish we as a society--in cases of adoption specifically--would give men more of a say.

Of course, I'm biased. My adoption agency did not contact my biological father for his permission for my relinquishment like they were supposed to back in 1981. And so he never knew about me. One of my cousins told me shortly after our reunion that it's a shame, because the family might have wanted to keep me. Several of my cousins grew up together like siblings as their parents shared caretaker responsibilities. Apparently my father used to pretend that his niece was his daughter when they were in public because they look alike and he'd always wanted a daughter.

Ok, I didn't mean for this to turn into my memoir. Originally I wanted to highlight this case in Ohio in which a bio father asserted his parental rights after the mother had relinquished his son to an adoptive family. The adoption agency did not follow the rules of gaining paternal consent. Once the man discovered he was the father, he spent nearly 3 years fighting to gain custody of his son. In September the court ruled that the son be granted to his bio father. The adopters initially defied the order to return him, the supreme court granted the temporary stay, then a few weeks ago the courts again ruled that the boy be given to his father. 

What angers me is that everyone's all upset that the kid has to be ripped away from "the only family he's ever known" and given to a man whom they claim doesn't deserve him because he didn't call the adopters to check up on the child and therefore he never actually cared (nevermind that he began fighting for custody immediately after finding out that he was the child's father.)

Please. Yes it's sad that the kid has to go through an uprooting, but it's not the father's fault. The adoption did not follow acceptable practices in contacting the father and gaining consent. And just because the process was flawed, that doesn't dilute the fact that the man is the child's father, period.

The adoptive family, of course, has a Facebook page decrying the "unfairness" of the court's ruling, gaining the sympathy of 6,000 fans.

I'm with the father on this one, and--for once--with the courts. Fathers should be given a choice before a child becomes a ward of the state. I suspect more of them would step up to the plate than we think.

7 comments:

Jeannette said...

There is another case happening right now with a 4 month old child in Utah. She was placed for adoption at two months old. The father was on the birth certificate, but never signed away his rights. Below is the facebook page about his story.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Give-Elizabeth-Back-to-Her-Daddy-Keary/123989397664887

Billycoakley@mac.com said...

I think that this case has been sensationalized --as many stories do that gain American press coverage --because of the made-in-Hollywood plot lines.

I can imagine that this is how the story was colored and fed to the public:

An innocent family "went out of their way" to adopt a child that they didn't conceive biologically only to have a ne'er-do-well, irresponsible parent come out of the woodwork to "demand their child back" after all of he hard work of getting the child through infancy has been done.

I am not surprised that some 6,000 people are fans of the adoptive family's cause.

I think these 6,000 folks, along with the adoptive family, should remind themselves of the benefits of adoption and also ask themselves why they fought to hold on for so long.

In my opinion, the adoptive family should always consider itself a vessel that aids in carrying the adoptee safely from childhood to adulthood.

I am not saying, however, that the family should not become the equivalent of full-blood relatives to this child.

I will assert that, if the biological parent(s) surface --the father, no less --the family's cause as vessel is trumped by one of birthright.

In that case, the adoptive family should not be wallowing in self-pity, but should go back to the well --if they have the strength and emotional reserve --to shepherd another adoptee into adulthood.

This should be the story: how many children go unspoken for, left to be wards of the state. This child is one of the lucky ones to have TWO parties wanting to care for it.

What will become of the nameless?

Christina Valencheck said...

so agree with you, Liberty!

Lisa said...

wow totally with you on this. What I don't understand is this father wanted and tried for this child early on. There is such sympathy for the AP's but didn't they know the biological father wanted him early on? As an AP I would not be able to keep my child knowing they were so loved and wanted by their bio family. Geez...This is very sad especially for the little guy. Wonder if the bio father has a facebook page with fans.

Anonymous said...

My father was never notified that my mother was pregnant with his child. He left the area before she could tell him and Orange County Social Services didn't seek him out to give him an opportunity to be my parent.

Adoption agencies see relinquished children as pricey goods and have greased the adoption wheels to funnel children into their baby pimping supply house. They don't care about the rights of innocent children or the rights of their fathers to raise and parent them. All they care about is money. 5 billion dollars a year of it.

I've created a petition. If you agree with me, please sign it and it will automatically send emails to your representatives and the President.

Here's the link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_your_legislator_to_writeenact_a_fathers_right_to_parent_bill

Thanks,
Mara

scott said...

here is a question, that i really am not sure where to go or what to do. Maybe someone can offer me insight or help, or just plain feedback.
Back from 91-94 i had ongoing relationship with a female i was close with, we dated we was friends, and we was lovers. In Dec 2003 she went home out of state. While there she told me that she got into a big argument with her father, and out of anger went out and had a one night stand. Thus she got pregnant. I was there for her, supportive for her, and in Feb, i even proposed to her. I wanted to support her, to be the husband for her, and a father to the child, If it was not biologically mine, made not a difference. I had a slight thought the child could be mine, but I wanted to do what was right for all parties involved. However She didn't want to get married, and then in April 1994 she packed up and left the state. I did not know what happened, i just know she left and didn't leave me a way to contact her. So on my end life goes on
I eventually got married to a different woman in 1996, today 14 years later we are still married and have 2 sons. In April this year (2010) This girl i dated in 91 finds me on Facebook, and reaches out to me. I ask about about how she was doing and then ask about the child, and then she told me she had a daughter, and had her adopted to another family at the point she was born. It was i believe an open adoption or something like that where she has extreme limited interactions with the her daughter.
It was then she told me that she believes i am the father of the girl.
She shows me pictures, and i am surprised on how she has the same features as my mom, and my oldest son. Her daughter Just turned 16 years old.
I was ready to man up and be the father for her, back 16 years ago, but she left and never looked back. Now i have an emotional issue. The girl ( who is supposed to be my daughter) Has a good family, a mother, father. Her life is good. She is 16 years old, i am sure school, and boys and family are whats important to her.
I would be selfish, and totally inconsiderate to reach out to her parents, to let them know who i am . or anything like that.
so what do i do?
Ideally i would love to send a letter to the adoptive parents to let them know who i am, and where i fall into this, and explain from my end what happened. Assure them that I am do not want to threaten anyone or cause issues there. I just want the parents to know me, and allow (when she asks about her biological dad) her to know me.
I cant be angry at the mom, she was 20, she was pregnant, confused, wanted more out of life. I understand and respect all that.
It was her option to do what she did....and yes I was not there, and had no rights.

But I honestly wish there was some kind of option there..or some incite that I could receive to help me on this.
If anyone has ever had an situation like this, if you offer me any wisdom, I appreciate it. If you as an child who was adopted can offer insight.
Or if anyone can offer anything on this. I would greatly appreciate it
Thank you for your time, and anyone with help or advice please offer...

thanks
scott
Sfreemn6@gmail.com

Liberty said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

@Jeannette: Are there any updates about this case? It looks like the birth mother responded to your blog post saying that she is keeping the baby and not giving it up for adoption...

@Mara: Can you repost the link to your change.org petition? The full link did not show up here, and I'd like to sign it.

Dear Scott: Thanks for sharing your story. It's very sad, and I doubt I'm the only one who thinks it's understandable that you feel stuck. (Note: When you wrote "Dec. 2003" I assume you mean Dec. 1993.) It's great that you are concerned with the emotions of all parties involved, but I do NOT think you would be "totally selfish" or intrusive to reach out to the parents. Especially if they are in an open-type adoption--you'd think they'd be okay with contact from the birth parent. And it's likely they are in touch with the bio mom, no? It's interesting that the bio mom reached out to you--I wonder what spurred that. If she's in touch with her daughter, perhaps the daughter started asking questions about her father...who knows. At any rate, I say go ahead and write the letter to the parents. (A letter is usually a good starting point; most people I know begin contact with a letter.) One final note: It's impossible to be prepared for any possible reaction or situation, but some people say preparing for the worst--which might be denial of contact or finding out that your daughter is troubled or sick or something like that--is best.

Good luck. Keep us updated!