Friday, May 25, 2007

My Dander is Up

This is a long post, so bear with me as I unload my feelings on my blog. Before I start my tirade, let me apprise you of a few facts. We were foster parents for nine years which certainly acquainted us letting children go. On top of that, we also had two private adoptions of newborns not work out, because the birth mothers changed their minds in the legal amount of time. Those are two of the most grief filled moments of my life, so I know about adoption loss and laws. You will probably be surprised which way I fall in this arguement.
Utah has some of the most adoption "friendly" laws in the U.S. The reason for Utah's reputation is that birth mothers can sign away their rights after just 24 hours and the birth father does not have to consent to the adoption. Here in Utah, if the father does not file paternity paperwork with 3 days of the birth, their rights are voided. The case I am talking about has been in the courts for three years and has gone to the Utah Supreme court. The child in this lawsuit was born on a three day weekend, so the father was not able to file the paperwork within the required time period. Now the state of Utah is overturning this law, saying it must be three business days not just three days. Kind of hard to file paperwork when the governmental agency is closed, huh?
I have some very strong feelings about the rights of birth parents. Especially because adoption has become an economic decision. Being poor, single and heaven forbid, brown, automatically disqualifies you from being a fit parent. I am so not okay with the rampant prejudice in our adoption culture. To trample over some one's civil rights, willy nilly because we think it would be "best" for the child is just unconscionable in my book.
In our local newspaper, we have had two letters to the editor in the last week, expressing horror over the birth father's selfishness and a general cry for the birth father to do what is "right" for his son. Here is the letter to the editor I wrote.

As an adoptive parent and a former foster parent, I am more familiar than most with the complexity of adoption issues. Our family has even had two private adoptions in other states overturned during the waiting period, so I know the loss of a child. Having said that, I feel compelled to weigh in on Utah's adoption "friendly" laws. Friendly for whom? Not the birth parents, that is for sure, just ask the birth father in the middle of this mess. There have been 2 letters now, pleading for the birth father to step up and do what is best for his son. What about the adoptive family? I am almost certain that they have known for the past three years that their son's adoption was being disputed. The adoption agency certainly did. Why did they not do exactly what is being called for? The unselfish act, the loving of child more than self. If this adoption is overturned, and the child is returned to his birth father, who in fact was more selfish? Who of us, if our child was taken without our permission would not go to the ends of the earth to bring our child home? If this child had been kidnapped for three years, there would be no outcry against the return of the child to his family. Children have been taken by non-custodial parents for much longer than three years and then returned to their legal guardians. I don't hear anyone saying the custodial parent is selfish or not doing what is right for the child. I feel this case and these letters show our very real prejudice against single parents. Single or not, legal rights must be upheld. Do not cast stones at a father exerting all his efforts to get his son returned to him, instead, do something about the law and an adoption agency that would allow this to happen.

Signed, Your Jo, compelled to do what is right, one child at a time.

6 Kids Who Want To Play:

Yondalla said...

Good for you.

LilySea said...

24 hours????

That's insane.

I don't think it's only prejudice against single parenets either, I think it's prejudice against "birth" parents--even though ironically this man was an unwilling one to begin with. There's such an assumption that people in a position to adopt are automatically better parents than peoplein a position to place--even when it's strictly poverty putting them in that position as you point out.

I will keep this father, the adoptive parents and the child in my prayers.

Heather said...

I have gotten s bit of a sour taste in my mouth where adoption is concerned... For lots of reasons. For starters, the cost of adoption can eliminate many families that could provide very well for that child if they didn't have the $15,000+ stumblign block of the initial cost in front of them. For another, being young doesn't make me a less qualified applicant, either. While it may be true that I have less experience than a 28-year old mother, my love for that child and desire to give them a stable home is not affected by my age. I have wanted to adopt for as long as I could remember - I never wanted biological children until I was about 15 or 16. Even then, it was more like, "Someday, maybe..." rather than, "Adoption is something I HAVE to do!" The decision to give your child "a better life," a "better chance," is the most unselfless and, imaginably, the hardest decision a person can make. But it could also be the most rewarding, fulfilling, and best. But all that applies only when it is truly a decision and not an action taken for you. The text of this law should certainly be changed. I'd say anyone who persues something so fiercely for 3 years has the strength of their convictions and he shouldn't have had to fight for 3 years for a child that was his to begin with.

While I still feel that adoption is a wonderful option to an unplanned pregnancy, I also feel that there are a lot of things about it that need to change. Cost, the invasive process of home-study, the laws surrounding what constitutes a legal adoption, etc. Adoption is an act of love... So why isn't the process more comfortable and reassuring to all parties?

The father will certainly be in my thoughts and I hope he gets his child back very soon.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for all the typos - and unselfless should just be selfless. I got caught in the moment!
- Heather

Granny said...

I'm with you.

DramaMomma said...

You will never believe what I heard in RS call you asap.

By the way the birth father got his son back this weekend.