Friday, June 18, 2010

Fathers Day 2010: Unmarried Fathers Who Fight for their Rights to be a Dad


This Father’s Day let’s raise a glass and toast John Wyatt, Ramsey Shaud, Jon Klaren, and all the other childless fathers who took on the system and lost. And let’s make another toast to those fortunate fathers, Otakar Kirchner and Dan Schmidt, who beat the odds. And finally let’s toast Erik Smith, the Ohio paralegal working with fathers all over the country in danger of losing their children to the rapacious adoption system.

Unmarried fathers Wyatt and Shaud are the latest in a string of men victimized by Utah’s relaxed residency laws, allowing the State to become a safe haven for would be adopters. Utah laws, reflecting LDS Church doctrine of eternal togetherness for sanctified families (father, mother, and children) and oblivion for unsanctioned ones (father and child or mother and child), are a God-send for unscrupulous segments of the adoption industry.

Wyatt’s baby was born in Virginia and surrendered by the baby’s mother to a couple who took the child to Utah. Shaud’s baby was born in Utah where her mother relocated from Florida, apparently induced to do so by a Utah adoption agency. Both men took every step required by their homes states and Utah to protect their right to nurture their child; nonetheless, Utah trial courts upheld the adoption of their children. Both cases are on appeal. We told Wyatt’s story here.

Shaud’s story as reported on The Daily Bastardette:
“Shaud filed a paternity claim in Utah and a notice in the Utah putative father registry five days before the birth. Shaud’s notice was mailed on January 12, 2010 and marked received by Utah Vital Statistics on January 14. The mother consented to adoption on January 19, and an adoption petition was filed.

[Vital Statistics did not process Shaud’s paperwork until January 20, making Shaud’s filing one day late.] Moreover, the date of receipt on the envelope had been altered from January 14 to January 20. The adoption was then ordered without Shaud present.

[Through an attorney, Shaud] filed a motion to intervene in the adoption …. A judge ruled that Shaud had preserved his right to due process. For unknown reasons the judge was replaced by Judge Robin Reese, who reconsidered the matter. Reese refused to admit … evidence about Vital Statistics activities and denied Shaud’s intervention.”
The State of Utah is not alone in its zeal to separate fathers from their children. Other states also have laws cleverly designed by the adoption industry to screw unmarried fathers. Klaren lost his son in left-leaning California because his attorney failed to tell him about an important deadline.

As we wrote in our post about Wyatt’s case, prior to 1972, unmarried fathers were legally dead when it came to the adoption of their children. (Of course very much alive if the state wanted them to pay support.) In Stanley v. Illinois, the US Supreme Court held that unmarried fathers had the right to nurture their children. States immediately adopted laws designed to give the appearance of  recognizing fathers’ rights while denying them in fact. To the horrors of the adoption industry, however, fathers actually asserted their rights and in a few cases, they prevailed. Thanks to well-financed public relations campaigns by the would be adoptive parents and allied adopters in the media, two of these cases, Baby Jessica (Dan Schmidt) and Baby Richard (Otakar Kirchner) made headlines. "No More Baby Jessica’s" and “Save Baby Richard” ranted the press as though the children were being sent to where the wild things are rather than to the loving arms of their fathers. (Jane will have a review of Baby Richard: A Four-Year-Old Comes Homein the coming weeks.)

Adoption industry lobbyists and legislators, contending they were motivated by “the best interest of the child”, worked overtime to shutter fathers’ all-ready small window of opportunity. Whether this commitment to the “best interest of the child” was based on narrow religious views or the need to keep children – and money -- flowing into industry coffers, the result was the same: more traps for unwary fathers to navigate.

An irony in all this? These state laws fly in the face of a national priority articulated by the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: “Supporting fathers who stand by their families, which involve working to get young men off the streets and into well‐paying jobs, and encouraging responsible fatherhood”.

Now that is a policy we can get behind. Let's hope the White House sinks some teeth into that initiative.
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Here's a book on birth fathers and their experiences.

8 comments :

  1. I'd like to toast to my father, Bill Parker, who in 1969 had a daughter that he was never informed about.

    The State of California bastardized me and relinquished his rights to be my father, without even telling him that I was born.

    If anyone knows a Bill Parker who is in his mid-60's to early 70's and was in Buena Park, California in October of 1968, please tell him that he has a daughter and I am looking for him.

    Thanks,
    Mara
    (born: Christine Monahan 1969)

    ReplyDelete
  2. And I'd like to toast my first dad, Jack Reese. Nobody told him about me either until 1999 when I did. He had no idea. Jack is a very special guy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And here's another toast to my son's first father Fred Hiller who has been deceased since 1988, the year before I found our son.

    I did tell him and he was less than enthused and told me he wasn't ready to "settle down" He also was afraid his parents would disown him.

    I was disappointed but Fred redeamed himself by keeping in touch with me over the years, apologizing over and over for leaving me in the lurch and told me he would help me find our son. He was young and scared, but I learned he was a good and contrite man.

    Happy Father's Day Fred!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Her's to Marley's Dad, and to my kids dads. Mike's dad was not the best at the time, but he made a great baby:-) And is not a bad guy, and I know he has suffered the loss too.

    My husband has put up with me all these years and deserves a medal for that, plus being a great dad to our kids.

    And God bless the memory of my Dad, who was just the best. His yearbook picture quoted Shakespeare, "I dare do all that becomes a man; who dares do more is none." He was a great father and grandfather and is very much missed.

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  5. I wish I could say something nice about my daughter's father. I thought he was a prince and was much in love with him when she was relinquished in 1966. He was married, his family was very Catholic, he had other children, there were a lot of pressures on us to give her up.

    He did not abandon me then, and we did what seemed necessary at the time. But he disappointed me gravely and crushed our daughter when he refused to meet after she and I were reunited. I tried several times over the years to just get him to meet her. It was always "not now." He had a difficult time handling anything emotionally messy, drink was an issue too.

    And then he died. Despite that, I was able to give her some of his things--jazz albums, a few books, a hat and vest, his chess set--and they meant a great deal to her. Though they never met, she mourned for him and together we visited his grave. One can not really downplay the pull of blood ties.

    Now could we convince all the legislators of that simple, basic, inexorable fact?

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  6. When my son's father tried to make a legal paternity statement so that he could get his name on the birth certificate, they actually told him that an un-named person was the father and they would not let his name be on the birth certificate. He walked because he believed their lies.

    When our son was 10 years old, he tracked me down and begged for forgiveness. He told me that he was finding out about all the lies that fathers were being told to chase them away. He found out about the reunion registry and he wanted to help me to find our son.
    He promised never to abandon me or our son ever again.

    I forgave him and he has kept his promise.

    We found our son together.

    My son's father flew his family to the other side of the world to see our son who was living near me at the time.

    My son has since moved back and is living near his father. They have even gone camping and skiing together. They really are peas in a pod.

    My son's father is now helping me to get his name onto our son's OBC - the document that he was denied to be named on.

    The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that all fathers have that right. The Premier of Ontario has just informed me that he has now passed my request onto the Minister in charge of this. I hope for a positive outcome - it will bring closure for all the terrible things they did to split us apart.

    Here's to my son's father who said he was sorry and who was there when we found our son as well as helping me fight this final fight in our quest for justice.

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  7. I went today to see my friend Craig, who has fought Missouri courts for five years (ever since his son's birth) to keep his rights. Craig has won unanimous appeals from the Missouri Western Circuit Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court that he never relinquished his rights, paid support, etc but the local court is determined to grant strangers custody of his son.

    Right now Craig is battling for his life after being hit by an idiot who crossed the center line and hit him head-on 3 weeks ago. He was in a coma but now his eyes are at least open- he faces months of rehab if he can ever get out of ICU!

    The efforts he has gone to, the obstacles the corrupt Kansas City courts have put him through, are staggering (not to mention the legal fees!) His next appellate brief is due Monday, and we are hoping the appeals court will grant a continuance!

    The local court has ignored appeal court and supreme court opinions time after time. He finally gained visitation rights but only after years of appeals.

    There is a stench of corruption around the way Jackson County Family Court has operated in this case; I have to wonder how many other cases like his have occurred, but the birth parents did not have the resources to continue the fight.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Please sign my petition:
    "A Father's Right To Parent":

    http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_your_legislator_to_writeenact_a_fathers_right_to_parent_bill

    Thanks!!!
    -Mara

    ReplyDelete

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