December 13, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) continues from yesterday.
The colloquial term “deadbeat dads” is a common stereotype and colors all aspects of men’s involvement in the adoption process. A Canadian study on attitudes of triad members toward releasing identifying information on adoptees to birthparents found that respondents were much more willing to grant access rights to mothers than to fathers (Sachdev, 1991). The author concludes that members of the adoption community share the prevailing stereotypical views of the birthfather as a “Don Juan” or “phantom father” – that is, little more than a sperm donor.
The “adoption community” of course consists primarily of adoption agencies and lawyers who make their living off of completed adoptions. Neither gets paid if an adoption doesn’t go through. It is therefore in the interest of both to complete any given adoption and doing so is made much easier if Dad isn’t involved. That’s why the “adoption community” pushed so hard for the creation of putative father registries and still does. Naturally, anyone who views fathers in the negative light referred to by the DAI report is more able to sideline fathers than would be someone more sympathetic.
That same bias seems to extend to mothers and perhaps women generally.
[T]he authors’ analysis of qualitative interviews revealed that women harbor more negative stereotypes and judgmental attitudes about birthfathers than do men. Most adults, but particularly females, also viewed the emotional attachment of a father to his child as primarily learned, whereas mothers were viewed as having an instinctive, biologically predisposed emotional attachment (Miall & March, 2003).
That of course is untrue. The same hormones that produce parenting behavior in all social mammals, including humans, exist in men and women alike. Yes, they find receptors in different areas of the brain in women than in men and that produces different parenting behaviors. And the hormone oxytocin tends to encourage men to be the secondary parent, i.e. to step back and let Mom take the primary role. But the idea that, in some way, mothers parent “intuitively” while men’s attachment to their children is “learned” has no basis in fact and is contradicted by the known science.
So how does that anti-father bias play out? Often it results in bypassing him altogether, whether legally or not.
In reality, the extent to which a man can be involved in the adoption process or a parenting decision depends largely on his relationship with the mother at that time. If she has an ongoing, positive relationship with the father, she normally would welcome his involvement; if she does not, however, she may resist his involvement out of fear, desire to control the situation, or for other reasons. The bottom line is that adoption professionals need to work diligently with pregnant women toward the goal of locating fathers, informing them of their rights, and giving them an opportunity to participate in the process.
Doubtless, many adoption agencies do just that. Just as doubtless, many do not. Again, the financial incentives are all in favor of removing the father from the process and, as with most other human beings, adoption professionals often aren’t able to resist the siren call of lucre. Indeed, several years ago, a Utah lawyer, Wes Hutchins, wired up five women and sent them into adoption agencies posing as expectant mothers inquiring about adoption. The results were unambiguous. One adoption agency employee explained,
“Birth fathers have zero rights in Utah.”
As I wrote back in 2012,
[W]hen the women entered the agencies (that remain unnamed in the article), employees with many years of experience blatantly coached them on what to say to make sure the father stays in the dark about what’s going on. In one case, the employee virtually wrote the mother’s “birth father affidavit” for her, explaining that she should say “he’s not supporting me” and “he doesn’t even tell the truth.”
Hutchins sent women into five adoption agencies, but just two of them did what the DAI says they should regarding fathers. The other three were plainly in it for the money and would cut any corner to get it.
In some states, mothers’ complete control over fathers’ parental rights in the adoption arena is a matter of explicit state law.
States differ in the extent to which they seek to protect the rights of putative fathers in the adoption process. A fundamental foundation for doing so is identifying the man, locating him, notifying him that an adoption is pending, and explaining his rights. But some states do not even require that a putative father be identified. For example, Idaho’s adoption statute (Title 16, Chapter 15) reads:
The legislature finds that an unmarried mother has a right of privacy with regard to her pregnancy and adoption plan, and therefore has no legal obligation to disclose the identity of an unmarried biological father prior to or during an adoption proceeding, and has no obligation to volunteer information to the court with respect to the father. I.C.,§ 16-1501 A(4)
The assertion, found nowhere in Supreme Court jurisprudence, that a mother’s right of privacy extends to her “adoption plan” that can then, without more, deprive the father of her child of his parental rights, is beyond astonishing. More blatant anti-father/pro-mother bias is hard to imagine.
In New York, the mother can know the father’s identity and state it publicly to adoption professionals and others, but if she does not legally name him in a document or he does not file with the registry, he is not entitled to notice of adoption proceedings. This effectively allows adoption practitioners who want to cut corners to be much less aggressive in their attempts to identify and reach out to birthfathers because it is not required by law.
To be entirely honest, it allows them to ignore the father altogether and to once again artificially and unnecessarily expand the number of children needing adoption, thereby denying other children who do need adoption the parents they so desperately need. And all of that is accomplished in the name of getting adoption agencies paid.
Adoption – it’s quite a racket.