I just read Adoptive Parents Ordered to Surrender 3-Year-Old to Biological Father by Honey Berk at Parent Dish, and I'm sputtering mad. (http://www.parentdish.com)
In her opening line Berk writes, In what may turn out to be a nightmare-come-true for adoptive parents, an Indiana couple risks losing their son today to the child's biological father in Ohio, after fighting to adopt the boy for nearly three years. I don't know Berk or any details of her personal life, so I can't hazard a guess as to why she chose to write from that perspective rather than the bio dad's or a neutral position. Why didn't she write, "In what may turn out to be a dream-come-true for first fathers, an Ohio father may finally be able to raise his son, after fighting nearly three years to have his legal rights as a first father upheld." I don't know.
Whether intentionally or not, Berk's word choice demonstrates an anti-first parent bias - especially first father bias - that I believe lurks beneath the surface of adoption today. That's a topic I'll tackle another time. For now, I hope you will read Berk's article. I am interested in your reaction.
Here are a few details from the article that I found particularly upsetting:
Bio mom wasn't required by law to provide bio dad's contact information to the adoption agency. (Why not? His DNA matters as much as hers.)
Within 30 days of his son's birth, bio dad registered with the Putative Father Registry in Ohio, which was weeks before the adoptive parents filed for adoption. (So bio dad asserted his paternity before the adoptive parents filed for adoption.)
Seventeen months later bio dad was awarded custody in Ohio court. That decision has been upheld by the Ohio Court of Appeals and by the Supreme Court of Ohio.
The voice of the law seems clear. Bio dad should get his son back - three years ago!
Parts of Berk's article made me physically ill. Those would be the quotes from the adoptive parents, e.g.,:
Quote #1 "He's never contacted us directly. He's never asked how the child is doing. He's never sent a birthday card." If I believed that someone essentially stole my child from me, I don't know that I'd contact them directly either. Perhaps he had legal counsel in that regard or was afraid of how easily he could be labeled a stalker, menace, obsessive, etc.
Quote #2 "What they'll say is they've litigated this from the beginning, that he filed a paternity action in the very beginning; that he's done everything he can do." And hasn't he? Hasn't he litigated it from the beginning? Didn't he file a paternity action in the very beginning? Hasn't he done everything he can legally do? Yes. YES! How can you feel good about keeping this man's child?
Quote #3 "We want him to have contacted Grayson and to have supported him, and our position is he has not done that." Excuse me? Really? So, if bio dad had contacted Grayson and 'supported' him (whatever that means), then what? You'd be happy to return his son to him? Doubt it! And besides, who are you to decide what hoops he or any other bio dad has to jump through to 'prove' his love for his son? The position of the Ohio courts is the one that matters in this case; not yours.
Quote #4 The adoptive mother is worried about how to tell her two other children. "There's absolutely no difference. He's our child, and he has been since the moment I held him." And this is where I cry, because Lady, I understand that feeling. I have felt that feeling. But feelings don't erase paternity. Feelings don't change wrong into right. I can not begin to imagine the pain of having to tell either of my kids that their sibling isn't going to be part of our family any more. The idea is devastating. But... you shouldn't have been allowed to raise him as your child to begin with. He was never relinquished for adoption by his biological father. And that sets up a situation where everyone loses.
Bio dad has lost the earliest years of his son's life.
The adoptive family is scheduled to lose the boy they have loved for three years as a son and a brother.
And Grayson loses everything. Absolutely everything. His parents, his siblings, his home, his world. He loses security, peace, belonging, and faith. Everything. Absolutely everything.
To those of you who think that Grayson should stay with his adoptive family, I agree that his loss will be tremendous and devastating. Enormous. Life-altering. But I have to ask, if someone took your infant child without your consent, how long would you fight to get him or her back? At what point would you say, "OK. It's enough. Just keep him. It's not worth the fight." Honestly?
Instead of bashing bio dad for wanting to raise his son (his son), why not bash the laws and regulations and protocols that make it ridiculously easy to delete bio dads from their children's lives? Why not work for adoption reform that values fathers as much as mothers?
Both my kids' birth mothers recognized the importance of fathers. Both realized that was something they couldn't give to their children, and that's why they asked my husband and me to adopt their babies.
How can anyone deny this bio dad the privilege of raising his own son?
What do you think?
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