Monday, July 11, 2011

President Obama's mother making an adoption plan? Unthinkable.

President Obama
Before President Barack Obama was born, his parents may have considered putting him up for adoption reports Sally Jacobs, author of The Other Barack, The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father. The senior Obama told immigration officials that he and his wife, Ann Dunham, would “’make arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away.'”

According to Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s former press secretary “’The president did not know about the adoption question … and he did not believe his mother ever seriously considered it’” (The New York Times, 7/8/11).
When Obama was born in 1961, though, it’s likely that well-meaning people counseled Denham to relinquish her son. Having a half-black child—visible evidence that a woman slept with a black man--branded a woman as loose or something worse. Add to that, Dunham was 18 years old and single when she learned she was carrying Obama. Obama senior had a former wife (or maybe a current wife) and two children thousands of miles away. The prospects for the child Dunham was carrying would not have seemed good. Today, however, we recoil at the thought that Dunham would have considered adoption for her son.

Sarah Palin
In 2008, when 17 year old Bristol Palin revealed her pregnancy, her mother Sarah was running for vice president on the Republican ticket. If Bristol had made an “adoption plan” for her son, the public would have been outraged. What kind of woman would allow her grandson to be raised by strangers?

Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United StatesSpence-Chapin, the New York based adoption agency with the finishing school name, and others in the adoption industry would like to transform our views of mothers who surrender their children. They and their allies including diverse groups such as the National Council for Adoption, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Center for American Progress seek to elevate adoption to a reproductive choice, the reasoned decision of women choosing from a menu of options, rather than a sad event forced upon “resourceless women” (Ricki Solinger, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States, 2001).

Spence-Chapin and its partners in the Adoption Access Network look to a time where mothers giving up their children would no longer be stigmatized as “selfish or irresponsible.” The women would be respected for making “the best possible decision for their offspring and for themselves.” (Jessica Arons, The Adoption Option, Center for American Progress, 2010).

Fortunately Ann Dunham and Barack Obama senior and Bristol Palin and her family did not fall victim to this twisted logic. 
 ____________________
Here's the post Jane referred to in the comments re Obama and adoption: Pres. Obama, Adoption is not only available, it's being crammed down our throats

17 comments:

maybe said...

The original cast of "Teen Mom" is back for a new season...recall that Catelynn and Tyler were the first parents on that series who gave up their baby. I'm following this series because as it has progressed we are seeing the difficulty that adoption creates in the family - they are still struggling with their own emotions regarding the loss of their baby, including the impact on their extended family.

MTV is airing this week a "16 and Pregnant" adoption special that is supposed to cover this topic from multiple angles. Will it succeed at presenting a realistic view of adoption, or will it turn into another opporunity to make adoption seem wonderful, ala the groups you mentioned in your post?

I think it's important for us older mothers to keep an eye on these media representations of adoption because of the influence on young mothers. Who knows, maybe MTV would someday consider a panel of mothers who have lived the adoption story for 20, 30, 40+ years.

Lori said...

I wonder, especially since there is little that people won't say, exactly how many of these stories are true. At the same time, having grown up in the 60s and 70s and having had a biracial child, I can see that it might actually have been pushed....

The whole thing is just sad.

caleigh brooks said...

Wow! That's a great article, Jane! I don't have time to talk. I just want to say I'm learning so much here at First Mother Forum. I've finally met my ilk. I've been alone so long in my grief! Thank you all for being here! BIG THINGS AHEAD! THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT! Education, education, education.... I must be armed for THE nemesEs [plural] that I will undoubtedly encounter in the media! Thanks to all of you! You put a pep in my step!

Also, all of your comments, and my comments, are grooming me for what's to come! I must know how to intelligently ask for what I want - without alot of emotion! Yes, it's our time!

maryanne said...

In the 60s and beyond, until white babies got really scarce, a mixed race baby was almost as unsaleable as a pure African-American one. Had Stanley Ann surrendered her baby in 1961, his fate would likely not have been adoption, but years of being tossed around in foster care, then possibly being adopted by bottom of the barrel adoptive parents. Most dark and mixed kids were not even that lucky, but eventually aged of foster care and were on their own.
See Ricki Solinger on the difference in how black and white moms and babies were valued,counseled and treated back then, and that often did extend to white women carrying a mixed race baby.

This was brought home to me vividly when my second son whom I raised was born, and I was attending a low income prenatal clinic. I was in my mid 20s, but met a group of much younger teen moms, white girls whose babies had Black dads. I started talking to them about what had happened with my first child, the pressure to surrender, and they said they experienced none of that, the social workers they saw were just fine with them taking the baby home! I went...hmmmmmmmm........

Barack Obama is very lucky his Mom was from a liberal family, and born in Hawaii where mixed race has always been much more accepted. Had he been surrendered, his fate could have been much more terrible than adoption, and his mother would never have known until she searched for him. I know birthmothers in this situation, one found her son dead, a suicide in his teens after years of abuse.

theadoptedones said...

On the extremely rare chance they contacted the Salvation Army they would have been told the small chance that an adoption would happen to a bi-racial baby in 1961, but rather he would have grown up in care.

http://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/topics/AfricanAmerican.htm

There was no market unless it was a health white baby...

joy said...

I am glad he got to stay with his mom.

Anonymous said...

"I'm glad he got to stay with his mom."
Me too. And I'm glad his mom was supported in keeping him

Mother said...

Didn't Obama and Bush want to make adoption easier.
I know I heard it in speeches.
I am sure if Obama had been adopted he wouldn't be so
ready to push adoption. Of course Bushes
were wealthy but George W was thinking adoption when he couldn't get pg. So I am sure they are Gladney supporters.
If his daughters didn't look so much like him I would wonder if they had adopted. Think there are adoptees in
Bush family.

Anonymous said...

He sends bastards onto the battlefield and lets them die for this country that wont even allow them to see their original birth certificates, and in many cases meet the woman who gave birth to them.

I wish President Obama was adopted because he doesn't give a sh*t about us. He's a typical non-adoptee who is so out-of-touch and oblivious to the discrmination against adoptees. If he was adopted, he might actually give a damn and help us.

We need to get an "out-of-the-fog" bastard into the oval office.

-Mara

Jane Edwards said...

Thanks Mother for reminding us. Yes, Pres. Obama advocated for making adoption "more available" when he spoke at the Notre Dame Commencement in 2009. We wrote about his speech on FMF, http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/05/pres-obama-adoption-is-not-only.html.

I understand one of George W. Bush's brother adopted through Gladney and was on the Gladney board at one time. Although I don't recall a specific speech, I'm sure Bush promoted adopted more than once.

Mother said...

Jane,
I seem to remember Bush speaking in State
Of State about adoption. Incensed me that he
would be promoting adoption in that type of
speech. Guess it's such a big business along
with it's own lobbyist. Commerce of baby buy-
Ing and selling. A lot of legislators adopt too.
Can you say conflict of interest there.

I think his mom was a
big Gladney supporter.

Lorraine Dusky said...

The link to the post Jane referred to:

Pres. Obama, Adoption is not only available, it's being crammed down our throats

Mother said...

Maybe,
I don't believe MTV would ever do a program
about mothers who have lost a baby to adoption.
It would be a conflict if interest I am sure there is
an adoption agency behind this scam.
The truth can't be told because the business is to
lucrative. Young women and their babies used for
ratings. Anything goes when it comes to promoting
adoption. Those young girls are us. In terrible situations
many do have the chance to keep their babies. I meant
age wise, vulnerable.

maybe said...

All politicians tout adoption as a wonderful "option" because it appeals to the anti-abortion crowd, even if the pols actually support abortions rights. It's the politically correct way to walk the abortion tightrope.

Re: GW Bush - I read that he and Laura were preparing to adopt from Gladney but then Laura became prenant with the twins - poof, no more desire to adopt.

Mother said...

Maybe,

You got both points right! Although there are
A lot of adopters in government.

Texas gov adopted two she is grandma age.
Grassley, McCain both adopters. The supreme
court justice adopted two from Ireland. Wonder
about Edwards kids younger ones don't think his
wife could produce eggs at her age when they
were born. He obviously could produce secretly
but secrets out.

Robin said...

I wonder if President Obama has given any serious thought to the idea that he could have been given up for adoption or if he just pooh poohed the idea as ridiculous. If he had thought it over he probably would be horrified at the thought that his parents could have given him away and that he might never have known that his mother was a white woman from Kansas and that his father was from Kenya. Though I do agree with this others that he probably would have remained in foster care rather than being adopted.

He probably didn't think through the realities that adoptees from the BSE live with every day, falsified birth certificates, no knowledge of their ancestry, the pain that comes from having been relinquished, etc. I wish this brush with adoption would cause him to reconsider his support for November being the national adoption month.

Jane wrote:"What kind of woman would allow her grandson to be raised by strangers?"

I wish I could agree with you but I think that Palin's supporters are the pro-life, pro-adoption demographic and might very well think that adoption was a good solution for someone as young as Bristol.

bgc said...

Please watch the "adoption special" on MTV's teen mom. As an adoptee I watched, and I cried tears - deep seated tears. I cried for the industry that does not have any understanding of the trauma that is imposed when a baby loses it's mother, I cried for the mothers that drink "open adoption" koolaid, I cried for myself at the fact that I lost my mother when I was born. I detested Dr. Drew for dismissing the genuine grief that was most obviously suffered by the mother that placed her child with an aunt and uncle, clearly regretting her irrevocable "decision." It triggered within me immense grief that had been shelved. I am grieving, I need my mother, and the rest of the adoption industry can go to hell!