I think it’s time I shifted gears and got back on the adoption track. After all, this blog is based on my book.
I’ve been asked one question in particular during my radio interviews : “What part should the father play in the adoption process?”
This is a VERY sticky situation. This is a VERY sensitive topic to discuss. But I will try from my unique perspective.
Personally, as a man and as an adoptee, I think the father should be involved in the adoption process. I think the father should know about the pregnancy. I say this, because I don’t think a woman should be left alone when she’s pregnant to face the difficulties, the health issues, the financial aspects, the emotional upheaval that will come from being pregnant.
Far too many men in our society take off for the hills when they find out their girlfriend is pregnant. And let’s face it, it’s usually (not always) a single woman who gives up the child for adoption. But men freak out and are suddenly absent when this occurs. It’s a terrible indictment of our society and, especially, of the male gender. I have always been furious and embarrassed for my sex because of the irresponsibility of so many men.
But so many questions are inherent in this difficult situation. First off, determining paternity. In order to be realistic, it can be difficult in some situations to determine paternity. This can be the case in situations regarding prostitution or promiscuity. I’m not indicting the woman by any means–hell, we men are total whores sometimes. But, if a large number of anonymous paramours have been around and are now no longer to be found, how does one determine the father’s identity? If there is a way, I would love to know.
However, even if the paternity of the father is known, how can you force him to accept responsibility? How can you force him to be there for the woman so she does not have to endure the embarrassment of being pregnant and alone? (And let’s be honest, there are still Puritans out there who LOVE to wag their finger accusingly at unmarried, pregnant women.) How do you force him to help financially? What if he can’t pay? Should his wages be garnished? Should his family be brought into the mix?
And then there’s the issue of the actual birth. What if the mother wants to abort? Frankly, I’m not completely educated on abortion laws in all fifty states. But it’s my understanding that the mother has the final say. What if the father wants the child to survive? I’ve read of fathers who have sued to prevent abortions and sued to prevent adoptions.
Feminists and the pro-abortion lobby will argue that it’s a woman’s choice. Christians, conservatives and the pro-life lobby will argue that the father should be involved–that is, if it means saving the child. I often wonder what the Right would argue if the father agrees to abortion? Or what would the Left argue if the father convinces the mother not to abort.
For years I’ve heard that women oftentimes have no recourse because so often the father is absent–this is why abortion is seen as the best option. Otherwise the mother and child will most likely face a life of poverty and reliance on social services. However, in the case of each side, are they thinking about what’s best for the people involved? Or are they thinking about what’s best for their political views?
So where do we go? If the mother wants to abort, but the father wants the child, which path should be chosen? Do I have the right to choose that path for them? Does anyone?? Do I have the right to demand that the mother put up with nine months of back pain, morning sickness, water retention, swollen ankles, mood swings while “dad” watches “Duck Dynasty” and swills beer? Yes, I know that’s a simplistic view. But the point is made.
Nevertheless, doesn’t the father have any rights? I mean, it takes two to tango. Two people decided to do the horizontal bop without protection and now a huge responsibility is thrust onto them with the requisite huge decisions. If the mother wants the father to participate and the father wants something the mother doesn’t, then what is the point? Is the woman asking for carte blanche to do what she wants while the father watches helplessly, his desires ignored?
I’m not suggesting that two people should get married for the sake of the child. Truthfully, how often does that work out? But two people were involved in the creation of this child; shouldn’t two people be involved in the future of this child? Again, this is assuming that the father is known and can be contacted.
And what if the father wants nothing to do with his child? Should the woman be left to face everything along? Granted, if the father is an abusive, alcoholic shyster, she might not want him around. Nevertheless, his financial involvement at the very least would be helpful.
But if he refuses all attempts at involvement, shouldn’t the mother have the right to demand help? If the baby is born and she keeps it, the father can be ordered to pay child support.
But what about before? And that begs yet another question…what if the father wants to abort and the mother doesn’t? Is the father’s wish based an a desire to keep his money and refrain from responsibility so he can keep horn-dogging around?
You see, I ask these questions because they were huge in my life. As anyone who’s read my book knows, I was adopted and I wrote a book about it–This is My Lemonade–An Adoption Story. In my story, my father tried desperately to keep me. He was an Italian immigrant, unfamiliar with the language and laws. He found out his girlfriend (my mother) was pregnant and was preparing to leave British Columbia for Oregon to give me up for adoption. He tried to confront her where she was living. He was arrested. He was jailed, tried and convicted for trying to keep his family intact. He was Italian. They love their families.
This was 1958. He had no rights. He had no say, no voice. Plus he was a swarthy, emotional Italian. An immigrant. He was beneath everyone else in polite, white society.
It’s hard to believe now, but at that time, Italians were at the same level as Mexicans are today–discriminated, hated, marginalized. He had defiled a pretty, auburn-haired Canadian (who, by the way, jumped into bed with him willingly). What would have happened had he been given a voice?
Mind you, I am by no means saying that I wish he had prevailed, married my mother and kept me. What’s done is done. I had a wonderful life and for that I literally thank God constantly. And there’s a part of my God-centered belief system that says things work out for a reason. But what if fathers had more say, more rights? Would that mean that the “reason” was being thwarted?
I understand that these questions are far beyond my political pay grade. We are looking at something that would have to be addressed by state legislatures. But will they do so? Will the Right and the Left work to get their own agendas considered and passed while pissing on the people they claim to want to help? Do state legislatures have the balls to pass legislation that would address this issue? If they do, does anyone believe that they’ll do it without the imprimatur of millions of dollars from the Right and the Left?
I’m not a fan of the nanny state. I’m not a fan of government intrusion. However, I’m intelligent and cognizant enough to understand the necessity of government in maintaining order and writing laws for society as society advances forward and new issues present themselves.
And I know that I’ve written mostly questions for an issue that defies simply answers. I ask them because they must be asked if this issue is to be addressed properly. I don’t claim to have all the answers. I have opinions–but my opinions, along with the opinions of everyone else would have to be considered if any type of determination is to be granted to the rights of fathers.
I know that there are other questions, many that I can’t even conceive of at this juncture. If any type of legislation were to begin, others with their input would have different, fresh takes on the situation. I do believe fathers are crucial in our society, just as mothers are crucial.
Our laws over the past generation or so have tended to focus on individuality. The rights of the individual. I tend to agree with that. However, individuality has a cousin and it’s called “society”. We can’t merely ignore society while focusing solely on the individual because the individual exists and functions in society. I could easily go onto a different tangent here, but once again the point is made.
I think more and more of my birth father every day. We had a horrible relationship, very unhealthy and very dysfunctional. Yet there was still a draw there somewhat. He was the victim of a system that didn’t recognize his rights. His situation took things to a ludicrous conclusion–his arrest, jailing, trial and conviction. But, if my book or any of my writings resonate, perhaps his experience will not have been in vain.