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U.S. | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

Equal Rights for Fathers?
by Harvest McCampbell
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 8:42 AM
Fathers have begun resisting the tactics of private adoption agencies, which broker incentives to women for giving up their children at birth. The rights of birth mothers, wealthy potential adoptive parents, natural fathers, and the profits of the adoption industry are at odds. As members of a democracy, as human beings, it is time for us to understand what is at stake in these on-going heart wrenching dramas.
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If—as a society, as a country—we believe in equal rights and equal laws for men and women, and if we believe in the legal right for a woman to relinquish her rights to her unborn or newly born child to the potential adoptive parents of her choosing; to have those potential adoptive parents present at the birth of her child; and to allow those potential adoptive parents to leave the hospital with that child without any notification to the putative father, nor any need for him to legally provide his consent nor to formally and voluntarily give up his rights to the child, then we must, under the idea of equal laws for men and women, also believe that a putative father has the right to relinquish his rights to his unborn or newly born child to the potential adoptive parents of his choosing; to have those potential adoptive parents present at the birth of his child; and to allow those potential adoptive parents to leave the hospital with that child without any notification to the mother, nor any need for her to legally provide her consent, nor to formally and voluntarily give up her rights to the child. Think about it. Fair is fair. Equality under the law is what we believe in, is it not?

Logistically it would be easier for a woman, who has an inkling that a man might have this in mind, to avoid the outcome than it is for a man to avoid having his fatherhood thwarted under current law. As we know, the unborn child is carried in the mother’s womb and if she suspected the man’s intentions, she could remove herself from his influence secretly and use an assumed name. Now, however, when a woman (and the private adoption industry) is perpetrating a similar and often successful scenario against a man, he is most often a helpless victim with little recourse under the law.

If a man were to perpetrate this sort of scenario against a woman, he would need a vast network of collaborators and supporting laws. However, if we should decide to give men equal opportunity, here in our country, to be able to perpetrate the same legal scenario against mothers that women, and the private adoption industry, now have the ability to perpetrate against men, I believe that the very lucrative private adoption industry would rise to the occasion and build the network of infrastructure, laws, and support systems to allow this to happen. In fact, it is the private adoption industry that finances the support systems and lobbies for the laws that now allow this scenario to be perpetrated against men.

I am not actually suggesting that we put this ugly shoe on both feet. I am not suggesting that we give men the same rights to arrange for the termination of the mother’s parental rights as women (and the adoption industry) now have to arrange for termination of the father’s rights. I am not suggesting that at all. What I am suggesting is that we change our thinking about the very powerful, lucrative adoption industry and the laws that have been passed to protect the incomes created by trafficking in children.

These laws have been passed at the expense of the rights of men, of putative fathers, of natural fathers who long for their children. I believe that men and women should have equal rights under the law. They should have equal rights to parent their children and equal rights to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. But I do not believe that men or women should have the right to arrange for the termination of the other parent’s rights; at least not without a fair hearing into that person’s fitness to parent or to have visitation, whether that visitation is deemed to best be supervised or unsupervised. I believe that all natural parents have a natural right to parent their natural children, to the extent that they are able and prepared to do so. And I believe we, as human beings, should do everything we can to support these rights. Because the alternative delegates children to the category of products that can be bought and sold; this, figuratively, is exactly what fuels the economy of the private adoption industry.

Just say no to unequal laws. Just say no to child trafficking.

No adoption should ever be considered until both parents have been identified and have had adequate time and support to consider for themselves whether they wish to seek custody or visitation or to voluntarily give up their rights to the child. Before any child is ever adopted by strangers, every effort should be made to find a suitable adoptive parent from within the child’s family, community, culture, or tribe, or the child’s or his or her parent’s religious group, as is already provided for—and largely ignored—by many state laws.

Let’s put our heads together and do what we can to make father’s rights equal to mother’s rights under the law.

Thank you,

Harvest McCampbell
Retired Family Specialist & ECE Program Administrator

Photo courtesy of photographer Tracy Dunaway--Father & Son, Kenneth & Robert Wulff.
by Harvest McCampbell
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 9:06 AM
I love this concept of turning the tables on the rights issue. It is just ridiculous that we do not consider fathers as parents when it comes to consent for adoption. Just ridiculous.
The private adoption industry has crossed the line and is taking children from loving, fit and willing parents. For every adopted child taken from a family that wants them, there is a foster child that won't get a home. An adoption industry designed to serve the wants of adoptive parents rather than the needs of the children is taking homes away from children who are truly in need and leaving them to languish in our broken foster care system. Veronica is only 1 of many children who have been taken from birth father that was fit and wiling to care for their child. “An estimated one in three American babies are born to unwed parents, and many are put up for adoption. While the mother’s parental rights are automatically assumed, the legal status of unwed fathers is vague and shifting. Indeed, this is such an ignored area of law that no statistics exist on how many fathers seek to raise their own children when the birth mothers relinquishes parenthood. Advocates for men’s rights complain bitterly about a rampant anti-father bias in the adoption system that often allows women to adopt out their children unilaterally. In theory a known father must sign away custodial rights before an adoption can proceed. In practice, agencies often make no effort to include a father who is not palpably present.” ( http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/unwed-fathers-and-parental-rights#ixzz2fvzXn2AP). It’s time for laws to change to protect our children. We need laws that will aid in the preservation of natural, biological families when possible. So that there are more potential adoptive homes available to the nearly 400,000 foster children that really do need homes.

In our existing laws, birth mothers’ parental rights are presumed just by virtue of being the birth mother. Birth mothers need not prove they paid for or even that they received prenatal care during their pregnancy. They don’t have to prove that they notified the father or kept contact with him about the pregnancy. They don’t have to prove that they properly nourished their bodies with healthy foods or supplements for the pregnancy. They don’t have to prove that they purchased even a single item for their baby to be. They don’t have to go register with their local government to establish their maternal rights. Parental rights are just given to them, just because they are the mom. Requiring a father to do any of these things in order to establish his parental rights is gender discrimination. The 14th amendment of the Constitution specifically states that “No State shall….deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Fathers and Mothers rights to their children must be protected equally. If a mother is given the opportunity to choose and meet with potential adoptive couples, then the father must also have that right. If a mother must provide a written, informed consent for adoption before a Judge, then the father must also provide a written, informed consent for adoption before a Judge.

If a mother does not actually know, or claims to not know who the father is then the father should have 6 months after the petition for adoption is filed to establish paternity and contest the adoption. If it is determined that a mother lied or falsified information about the father on adoption paperwork, she shall be subject to a monetary penalty. If an adoption agency or attorney is found to have been given correct information by the birth mother but they failed to contact the birth father and obtain his consent as well as allow him to meet and participate in the selection of the potential adoptive parents, they shall be subject to a monetary penalty. If an adoption agency or attorney has repeatedly failed to obtain proper consent and participation of the father they shall be subject to formal charges including potential loss of their status, certification or licensing as an adoption agency or attorney.

The Putative Father Registry should be continued to be used to assist adoption agencies and attorneys with identification of fathers in case a mother provides incomplete or inaccurate information. However, a father’s registration with the registry shall be optional and the absence of registration will never be used to deny or terminate parental rights. The Putative Father Registry should be expanded to a Putative Family Registry. The registry shall be made available for the self-registration of ANY biological family member of a child whom may potentially be placed for adoption. The family member must provide the birth mother’s first and last name and the child’s expected due date. Adoption agencies must directly notify any family member registered on the Putative Family Registry with Notice of Adoption if the birth mother contacts them to place the baby for adoption. This will then allow the birth family to petition for adoption of their unborn relative.
Laws need to be enacted to provide further protection of parents in the military due to the implicit duress of serving active duty for our country. A child with a parent on active duty military orders shall not be placed for adoption without the express, written consent of the military parent before a Judge. Because duress is implicit with serving active duty a revocation period of 90 days shall be granted to all consenting military parents. This 90 day period shall not include any deployed days. If the military parent is deployed when their consent is given, they shall have 90 days after their deployment ends to revoke their consent. If the military is deployed during the 90 day period, the 90 day period will pause during the deployment and resume upon the ending of the deployment period.
by Kay Springsteen
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 9:37 AM
If not for a father's contribution of DNA, a child would not exist. And while I feel a woman indisputably has the right to decide whether or not she carries the child to term or aborts, that the father should have no input into either forcing her to carry the baby or forcing an abortion, once that child is born, whether the father wants it or not, he is responsible for child support if the mother keeps the baby. He has no say - the ball is in the mother's court from conception. No, I am not advocating he abandon his child and become a deadbeat dad. But with responsibility must come rights. Fathers are not merely contributors of DNA - they are not "sperm donors," as some are disrespectfully referred to. They are people, who, whether through a one-night stand or a long-term engagement had a relationship with the mother. To equate this relationship with collecting sperm in a cup for the purposes of artificial insemination, in which he has signed away his rights and responsibilities before a child is conceived is to downplay his role in the creation of the child. BUT, that is how the adoption industry would like all fathers to be thought of. Because if unwed father is considered synonymous with "sperm donor," adoption attorneys and agencies only have to schmooze ONE parent, the mother. The father is then considered a throw-away item, only useful in terms of delivering his sperm at the correct time. Until it is made mandatory that fathers be identified and the adoption agreed to by both parents in front of someone who is certain they are signing away their rights with full disclosure and understanding of the consequences, fathers will be stripped of their rights as though they were no more than the test tube in which the sperm is stored to create the next adoptable child. A father has a basic human right not to be dehumanized by relegation to the role of sperm donor. Moreover, because a child has TWO parents, any child who is acquired for adoption by schmoozing the mother and deceiving the father is a child whose fundamental right to his/her biological family is violated.
by Tracy Dunaway
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 10:51 AM
Children need their fathers just as much as they need their mothers. The father played a part in creating life for the child so why wouldn't we give them a voice in the raising of a child. I understand that some men don't want to step up and be a dad, I have a child in that situation. I also have 3 other children who couldn't imagine living without their daddy. Every child should have the chance to be raised by their father (or another family member) before being given up for adoption. Fathers should have a say in the adoption process if both parents decide that is the route they want to take. There are way to many cases that the father wasn't given a chance.
Jake Stickland attended doctor's appointments, included the mother of his child in family gatherings, even though they weren't together, and his family even threw her a baby shower. That didn't stop her from putting his child up for adoption. He didn't know that baby Jack was born until she told him that he was put up for adoption, even though they were texting regularly.
Brandon Owen , a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, is another case only this time he knew nothing about the pregnancy. After the relationship ended abruptly, he didn't hear anything from her until she told him about being pregnant and giving his daughter up for adoption without his consent. He is now fighting for a DNA test.
In Justin Woods case the mother severed all ties and her family even went out of their way to lie to him about the baby being born. He is fighting to bring baby Jerrad back to Oklahoma so he and his family can raise him.
I won't even go into the Dusten and Veronica Brown case because we are still all a little sick to our stomachs on how that played out. I guess money wins over blood in that case, or as it stands right now.
These are only a few cases, there are plenty more if you actually look into it. Fathers are fighting to raise their own children. Strangers are being given this option and the father isn't. Why are we ok with that? I have two sons and I don't want to have to fear for my future grandchildren's rights. If the laws aren't changed that's exactly what may happen.
James Latimer is fighting for custody of his daughter from an ex boyfriend of the mothers. Really? An ex boyfriend? That's exactly what I thought. I have NEVER heard of an ex boyfriend with no legal or blood ties to a child being given custody over a father. What is this world coming to? We have mothers lying about having a miscarriage, giving birth to a stillborn, or just saying the baby didn't make it, so they can put these babies up for adoption. I think not only do we need to look into more rights of fathers but we need to look into the adoption agencies who are ok with giving babies away without both parent's consent.
by Julie Schneider
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 3:00 PM
Great article regarding father's rights. The whole question that has come to light for me is; why do we have such a mish-mash of definitions, laws, time limits, and requirements surrounding a fathers right to raise their own child? I certainly understand that we have individual states jurisdiction within family laws, however, just how did these laws become so, so very different? Upon researching the various state laws regarding "what/who constitutes a father", how a father goes about establishing himself as a father, the time frames to do so, coupled with the lack of ANY information regarding these said laws; one can only come to the conclusion that it's all pretty purposeful. I say this because - what any logical adult would "guess are the laws, suspect are the laws", or even think "some might consider this to be a reasonable law" regarding a fathers rights laws....are not to be found in most states. So, who benefits from laws that are nearly impossible to comply with, further nearly impossible to prove compliance with within the time frames, especially within the time frames and given that most people don't even know these laws exist? As we all know that it is BEST for the baby to be raised within her/his family (parents first, extended family next), who benefits from being able to cut fathers out of the picture without difficulty? Private Adoption Agencies benefit and potential adoptive couples who want infants benefit.
We all can now agree, I think, that adoption should be for those infants and children who have NO family (both sides, parents, grandparents, extended family, even close friends/people within their culture, heritage should be considered first, second, etc. until there are no options left among these people) who are able or willing to raise them. This being agreed upon, why is ICWA the only law in our country to address and require this very thing? As it is proven that babies and children fare BEST when raised within their own families, extended families, heritage and culture, who benefits from having the ability to "offer" babies and children to people outside of the family? Private Adoption Agencies and potential adoptive parents who want infants and children.
Yes, the laws need to change to protect fathers rights, mothers rights, and to protect infants/children's rights to their extended families, culture and heritage.
by Kellie Christensen
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 3:44 PM
There was an interesting article in the NY Times on Tuesday the 24th titled, "To Address Gender Gap, Is It Enough To Lean In?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/business/economy/for-american-women-is-it-enough-to-lean-in.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) The article reported on how women's advances in the workforce have stalled. The following quotes are from the article, "The way we view women changed radically". "The way we view men not at all." "Only when child care is accepted into the set of things that men do along with women will Americans achieve equality at work."
In my opinion, this goes hand-in-hand with the laws that currently restrict fathers rights in cases of adoption. Not only are we letting the adoption industry sell our children, they are restricting womens rights for equality in the workforce by the very laws they lobby to restrict men's rights. And let's not forget they restrict children's rights by restricting their fathers rights.
We are chaining ourselves, both men and women, by allowing these insidious organizations to exist.
by Crystal Sage
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 4:30 PM
While I am not a tribal citizen, I have defended the ICWA adamantly in Veronica's case because I feel it is the only law in our land that protects children's best interests. Why don't we have any laws that try to preserve a chlld's connection to biological family before they are allowed to be adopted out to strangers?
by Kym
Saturday Sep 28th, 2013 4:36 PM
I support children's rights, as described by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which ashamedly, the US has not joined the rest of the world in ratifying.

Briefly, the UN CRC states that children's best interests should be paramount in matters that concern them (not rocket science and hardly offensive).

It also states that children have a fundamental right to know and grow up with their parents when possible. I think we all know that every human being came from both men and women, who came from their ancestors, also men AND women. Ideally, children can be raised knowing themselves from whence they came. For this reason, stranger adoption should be a LAST resort, after it is CLEAR that neither the father, the mother, nor any relatives are able or willing to raise this child.

The current adoption practices are sneaky, deceptive, and a violation of children's rights (as well as fathers' and mothers' rights). With the intense promoting and lobbying of these adoption practices by so many politicians and religious leaders, they are disregarding children, human, and parental rights of parents who WANT to and are able to raise their own children. The hypocrisy of these politicians, religious leaders, and adoption agency and child protection services is astounding in their promotion of adoption as a way to "help" children in need. Why hypocrisy? Because these same leaders let bills that would restore equal rights to adopted people gather dust for decades, say they're too busy, but if the industry of adoption is threatened, they mobilize, travel to Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea with agreements to sign to "help" children to become permanently unequal in their new families, in society, and by law.

So, yes, I support fathers', mothers', children's, and families' rights, certainly above the rights of unrelated genetic strangers to an unrelated child. Adoption policies shouldn't revolve around the deception, lies, and coercion that is pervasive at so many turns. If adoption was the ethical and just action to take, secrets would not be necessary, starting with the lifelong sealing of the original birth certificates of adopted people.

by Peter Northman
Wednesday Oct 9th, 2013 11:59 PM
As this article correctly addresses, dealing with fathers rights issues can very complicated without the proper help and support.N