Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Love child' is preferable to 'adopted child'

Lorraine
I admit to a certain sympathy for the women who bear the children of married men, famous or otherwise. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revelation that he fathered a son with one of the household employees, Mildred "Patty" Baena, more than a decade ago is making front-page news, even in gray lady of journalism, The New York Times.

The boy, now thirteen around, is being called a "love child." Interesting, I thought, when teenagers fool around and have sex that results in a pregnancy, they "get caught," but only when the father is married is the baby called a "love child." No one has forgotten John Edward's love child, Quinn, and her mother, Rielle Hunter. What I think about when these revelations make headlines is that: At least the child was not put up for adoption.

BirthmarkCertainly my sympathy for the mothers comes from my own experience: I was a woman who had a "love child" with an older man, someone established and successful in my chosen field of journalism. At 36, he was the bigshot political reporter on the newspaper where I worked when I was 22 and fresh out of college. Ah, the times were different then, back in 1966, and as you all know, our daughter was given up for adoption and the rest has led me here today (and told in detail in Birthmark).

I asked my husband this morning what is so different than having an affair outside of marriage without a child, and one with a child: all the difference in the world, he said, surprised that I would even ask. There is a child, he said, as if no further explanation was needed. I get it, I do; in cultures where concubines are tolerated, or second and third wives live together with First Wife the order of the children and who they are born to makes all the difference. In China, for instance, the first son of the First Wife sits closer to the father than the second son, or any son from anyone other than the first wife, at their appointed places at table. But I digress.

My love child, Jane
You can read this same attitude about the overriding importance of progeny in the comments of Maria Shriver, the betrayed wife in the current drama: "As a mother, my concern is for the children [her own, certainly not the bastard boy, and that has to include "their" reputation as well as inheritance]. "I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. [I mean, goodness, hubby had an affair, the kids have a sibling, I know you are horrified, and while your kids may be surprised, finding out they have a half brother is not going to ruin their lives or damage their fragile psyches. Elizabeth Edwards had the same can't-take-it-attitude and apparently never forgave John, even on her deathbed, if the tabloids are to be believed.]

As for myself, the "other" woman pregnant with a love child in the Sixties, I hung onto the hope throughout the pregnancy that Patrick, Jane's father, would leave his marriage as he promised to do, make an "honest woman" of me in the parlance of the day, and we could keep our child. I remember thinking: all he has to do is tell his wife I'm pregnant. He did not. I did not call her either to break the news. I do know she eventually learned about Jane, but by the time he did leave the marriage, three years later, I was married. Without question we would have ended up together if I had not been. But that's another story.

As for Schwarzenegger, it turns out that this child may be the second one fathered outside of marriage; a boy, Tanner, was born to a stewardess on his private jet some years ago and is now in college; wags suggest he looks very much like Patrick Shriver Schwarzenegger. 

The ex-gov and musclebound movie star is hardly alone among politicians who fathered a love child. Besides Edwards, there is the late Strom Thurmand, the avowed racist in the Senate who fathered a child with a black maid in his household when he was 22; Jesse Jackson; the recent gubernatorial candidate in New York, Carl Paladino; the former president of France, Francoise Mitterand, and possibly President Grover Cleveland.
Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland, a maybe baby daddy

Cleveland allegedly had a son with a classy store clerk, but pre-DNA, this was never proven for sure. The son was eventually sent to an "orphan asylum" and the mother to an institute for the mentally deranged; when she tried to reclaim him, she was denied, which led to her kidnapping him. However, he was taken from her again, and recommitted to the orphanage, "from which later he was adopted by one of the best families in western New York, in time becoming a distinguished professional man," according to a 1933 biography of Cleveland. "He thus disappeared from Cleveland's life." Where are his progeny now, inquiring minds wonder. We add here that there was some speculation the child was fathered by Cleveland's friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, who was married, as the son was named after him--Oscar Folsom Halpin. Cleveland eventually married Folsom's daughter.

So what about you, Dear Readers, love children and baby mammas? How do you feel about the revelations of Schwarzenegger et al? I do feel empathy for these women. And I'm glad that in this day and age many of them do not feel compelled to give up their children to adoption.  --lorraine

18 comments :

  1. Adopted away child is the reality.

    That was your choice - not your love child's. Lots of love children were raised by their mothers even in the 60s.

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  2. After 46 year's I was finally reunited, with my son, who was given up for adoption. We were reunited on April 27,2011 .What a "Special Gift" I received on that day.

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  3. I always wondered about why some children were love children and some not. I remember reading that the origin of the term was to be another way of calling someone a bastard. A bastard I am. A love child....not all we adoptees fit that category.

    Very interesting post lorraine. :-)

    Amanda

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  4. Anon: I never have claimed that I did not have a choice. I know some women did keep their babies; I did not have the strength to do so.

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  5. And to the other Anonymous--What a great gift--you are right! Many happy days I wish you.

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  6. I have a problem with the use of the word "choice". From what my first mother told me and what I have read there was enormous social pressure on white, middle class women to give their out-of-wedlock "love" child up for adoption. Without strong family support and the ability to say "Eff you" to society I don't see how an unwed mother back in the day could have kept her child. I know that I never expected my n-mother to buck all of society to keep me (though I know now she wish she had). It must be very hard for first mothers to hear stories like that of Rielle Hunter and John Edwards and how she was able to keep her baby. Giving it up for adoption probably never even crossed their minds.

    I think "love child" was meant as a derogatory term although using the word "love" it doesn't sound so bad.

    As for Arnold's love child (or children) the child's mother was married and passed him off as the child of her husband. I'm sure there would have been no consideration of giving the boy up for adoption since they were a married couple. I wonder though if he looked like Arnold or had his mannerisms and if anyone noticed. I also heard that in California he is entitled to the lifestyle of his father. If I was him I'd be saying "Where's my lap of luxury, daddy?" :)

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  7. Robin, some white unwed mothers always kept their children, in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Most surrendered, but not all. There was some choice, but not much, and many of us did not know we had any choice. Some well-off daddies secretly supported their kids, and some were more or less blackmailed into it. Some brave and tough single moms made it on their own, but with great effort and often pain and scorn from their community. That was not just a myth, that being a single mom was hard back in the day.

    I always thought the term "love child" indicated that there was some love involved, not a one night stand. I never associated it with the children of married fathers especially. I could not stand that song, "Love Child."

    I feel bad for Maria Shriver, for Arnold, for their kids most of all. I can imagine how painful it is for all this to be public, the down side of being a celebrity.

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  8. I was not a "love child". I was the product of an affair that lasted a few weeks. My n Dad was married. I also think the term "love child" is being used in a sarcastic way in these stories.

    While Im happy that the child wasn't given away, he's certainly not what I would call "lucky". His 13 yr old face is now being sold to the highest bidder, and he will never be a "real" kid to his siblings, or to society.

    I would have the same reaction as Maria. I would be concerned for MY children. I think that's human nature. Arnold should have kept it in his pants. That sounds bad, considering my own bastard status, but my children come first.

    I have been cheated on. It sucks. I would have never wanted any child that could have been the result to be relinquished, and would have made sure that did not happen, but again, my children come first. Extra kids by another woman was not in my marriage vows, and not part of my plan.

    Im glad the kid(s) weren't separated from their Mothers, but their Mothers, along with their father, shouldn't have been messing around with other people.

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  9. I am surprised that you were not aware of the logic behind the "love child" statement. A "love" child is one born of a man that is supposedly committed to a marriage, but not in love with the wife. He manages to impregnate the usually young woman of lower station and they have a child. Often, in cases where a great deal of money is involved and the young woman is amenable to being kept in the proverbial cottage out in the middle of nowhere and keep her mouth shut, it wasn't unusual for the moneyed father to simply "keep" the child and mother... even if he didn't bother to do more than pay the bills.

    The bastard was a child born to a base woman and whom was placed away from the father and usually the mother. With no knowledge of who or whom one or both of the parents were. This term was born of the need to legitimate one child as the "heir" and to negate other claims to inheritance, usually done within royal family lines.

    We, ladies, are considered "base" born. This gave some form of reality to the need to protect our poor babies from the stigmatization of being a bastard.

    It wasn't to protect their fathers, but to keep the child away from the base born women that brought them into the world and had the audacity to do it without permission of a man.

    Anon (5:41 p.m.) - You don't have a frakken clue what "choice" is.... give up already.

    I love to look up terms, find their origins and read the evolution of the words and their uses.... this is one that was born a long time ago.

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  10. Knowing how much Lorraine wanted Jane, Jane wanted Megan, my own n-mother wanted me and how so many of the first mothers who post comments here wanted their children, all I can say is there must have been some pretty powerful stuff going on to convince you all to give up your children to strangers.

    And I agree with Linda, that this boy isn't really lucky. I had heard just yesterday that the mother and child were going to maintain their anonymity to protect the child. He will have a tough row to hoe and certainly not his fault.

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  11. For those interested in the Grover Cleveland history, I added this to the original post:

    We add here that there was some speculation the child was fathered by Cleveland's friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, who was married, as the son was named after him--Oscar Folsom Halpin. Cleveland eventually married Folsom's daughter, after Folsom died.

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  12. Hmmm, well I can't really say that I feel sympathy for women who bear children of married men. I mean, if you choose to have sex with someone (protected or not)...a pregnancy can result.

    Do I feel sympathy for a woman who feels she has no choice but to place her child for adoption? Yes, my own birth mother included.

    Do I feel badly for the "love child"? Yes.

    About the Shriver/Schwarzenegger case, well, this one's a whopper. Of course Maria's main concern is for her children...but maybe one would actually have to have given birth to and raised children with a husband to really understand what she must be going through. As far as the impact on their children, I think it will be huge. This child, their sibling, lived right under their noses for YEARS and yet they were denied the right to know him as a sibling...not to mention everything they have felt and known about their father has been partially a lie. Since this "Patty" worked in the home, this was a daily betrayal that left Maria (and the children, imo) being played the fool for years. Not psychologically damaging? How could it not be?

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  13. ""It wasn't to protect their fathers, but to keep the child away from the base born women that brought them into the world and had the audacity to do it without permission of a man.""

    Thanks Lori...yep...totally agree..."the audacity to do it without permission of a man". Man equaling a paternalistic society.

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  14. Lisa in WV:

    I feel some sympathy for the women who have the babies of married men because of the way they are treated in spotlight they come under--the attitude towards them is very condemning, while towards the man generally it is not as harsh. Old misogynistic attitudes are still with us, and never so much as in areas regarding sex, babies.

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  15. I thought we were all "base born" in the USA, having gotten rid of the monarchy with the American revolution:-)

    I think the term " bastard" goes back much further than "love child", and royal and noble bastards often did inherit and/or gain power due to their father's influence. Some were taken in by the father to be raised by his wife and servants. Some were kept with their mother, as the "love child" scenario proposes, Some were given to the Church to be brought up to be monks and priests.Even some Popes saw that their bastard sons became Cardinals! Sadly, infanticide was another widely practiced option.
    Adoption as we know it was not in the picture in those days.

    See the book The Kindness of Strangers: Child Abandonment in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance (1988) by John Boswell for more on this topic.

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  16. Maybe there was no love involved with Arnold and the housekeeper. Having a child with a wealthy married man could certainly be a strategy to improve one's social/financial position. Let's face it there is plenty of birth control around. She could have insisted he use condoms.

    Obviously, no one but the two of them really knows what was in their hearts and minds but this scenario could certainly be a way for the woman to have it "made in the shade".

    Interesting update: Patty's separation/divorce papers state that there are no minor children from the marriage. Sounds like her husband knew for a long time that the boy was not his.

    I do feel badly for Maria and the children. They were played for fools. And it brings back that old saying...."Always the last to know".

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  17. Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the union maid.

    A little-reported fact of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case is that his accuser is a union member – with rights the IMF opposes:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/
    cifamerica/2011/may/24/dominique-strauss-kahn-unions

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  18. Maria B. Halpin was date-raped by Sheriff Cleveland, whose subsequent ill-treatment towards the mother and child eventually drove her to drink. Immediately after birth,Cleveland took the child away from her, concealing baby's whereabouts probably in an attempt to claim abandonment by establishing that there was no contact between the mother and child for a statutory 6 months so that Cleveland would be free to offer the boy for adoption. She could never kidnap her child, as the child was never taken from her under legal process. She did take the child from the orphanage, but she likely had full legal right to do so. They never took the child from her again, for they couldn't find either mother or child. Eventually, her brother-in-law persuaded her to give the child up. Prior to this, she had engaged Milo A. Whitney, Esq. to press kidnapping and false imprisonment charges against Cleveland, and he had gone so far as to write Cleveland to never interfere with the mother and child again. It was Cleveland who named the baby "Oscar Folsom". Charles Lachman has a book coming out about this in August. Finally, someone will "Tell the Truth"; and that truth is infuriating. That Cleveland was honorable is probably the worst whitewash ever passed along in American History. Maria Halpin was a good woman, a good wife, and a good mother, and her children were remarkable people. God bless them.

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