Last night there was a story on Dateline NBC which discussed Paternal Birthparent rights. I was hesitant to watch it because I feared that it would make adoptive parents look like evil child snatchers. Unfortunately I think in this case the agency, the birth mother and or her family, and the adoptive parents acted poorly.
The story focused on one birth father who had made it clear prior to the birth of the child that he wanted to raise the child himself if the birth mother was unwilling/unable. He was 20 at the time his baby was born and he was not notified of the birth only that the birthmother had started working with an adoption agency. After several attempts to contact her he realized that she probably had the baby. He never had a chance to see his baby, he only has a few photos that the birthmother provided him. His baby was adopted by a family in Utah and the agency was from Utah.
On the paper work completed by the birthmother it indicates that she knew who the father was. She also indicated that she knew the father was not supportive of the adoption and wanted to maintain parental rights (not in so many words). The child however was moved quickly to Utah. My guess is because they knew the birthfather would fight it.
So I have a few problems with this story. The first is it seems to me that Utah is/or may become a magnet for birthmothers that want to ensure an adoption when there is a desire from a birthfather to be a single parent and raise the child. Second the adoptive family was aware of the birthfathers desires. The combination of the two sounds more like baby buying then adoption to me. What also concerns me is that there is a federal law called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. This means if we adopt a baby out of state the baby will have to remain in the state until that state determines that baby can leave the state. It sounds like in this case that the baby should have remained in Virginia as the birthfather had expressed interest in raising the child and they knew his name just not his address. I'm sure a quick search of the DMV records they could have found an address/phone #. Also clearly the birthmother had this information. Once the baby is transfered from one state to the other even if fraud is committed (i.e. the birth mother claims she doesn't have an address for the birthfather) the transfer is final and the laws of the new state apply (which in Utah is heavily stacked against birthfathers).
Birthfathers do pose a "threat" to adoption because they are not physically attached to the adoption. It is clear without a doubt who the birthmother is. As for birthfathers I must trust that the birthmother is being honest in stating she does or does not know who the birthfather is. Its always "safest" when the birthfather is known and agreeable to the adoption.
This story bothered me because the adoptive parents clearly knew the desires of the birth father. There is no reason that the birthfather should not raise his child as he desires. The birth mother and or her family, as well as the agency she worked with worked hard to keep the father from being involved. As an adoptive parent to be, I dont want someones else's baby that the birthparent/s feel they can love and raise. I want my adoption to be an act of love in which both birth parents ideally feel that we would make good parents for their child. Stories like these make adoption scary and there does need to be a cut off in which parental rights are terminated and the adoptive family can move on knowing that their family has grown by one. In this case thought it was clear from the start that the birthfather did not ever agree to perental rights being terminated unfortunately he fought his battle in Virginia too long since as soon as the baby was transfered the new states laws took effect even thought fraud took place.
I dont want to buy, steal or cheat in order to have a baby. My marital status, educational level or career success does not make me a better parent. It does make things easier but it doesn't make me better.