David Crosby’s son James Raymond

While David Crosby was preparing for his liver transplant in the ’90s, he discovered that the child he had given up for adoption in 1962 had been searching for him. Crosby finally reunited with his long-lost son, James Raymond, and as fate would have it, he’s also a musician. Raymond is a successful keyboardist and composer. 

Crosby was in his early 20s when Raymond’s mother became pregnant. “She gave him up for adoption and didn’t tell me he existed,” he says. Raymond was born when his father was young. Crosby declines to identify the mother with whom he had a fleeting relationship, but he admits they put their son up for adoption immediately. Crosby never forgot the son he gave up.

When Raymond and his partner were about to have their first child, his adoptive parents suggested he might want to track down his biological parents. “So he went to check and he sees my name there and he thinks: ‘Nah, couldn’t be.’ So he checks first names and middle names [Van Cortlandt] and realizes, yeah, it is me. He’d already been a musician for 20 years when we met up – “so anybody who tells you it’s not genetic, you tell them come talk to me.”

As his health deteriorated while he waited for a new liver, David Crosby’s thoughts drifted to the boy. “I was in the hospital dying, and I knew that I had a son out there someplace,” Crosby told The Baltimore Sun. “I had been beating myself up for years about not being there for this kid.” Crosby says, such reunions end up in animosity. “But James did a wonderful thing, man. He gave me a chance to earn my way into his life.” How did he do that? “By making music with him.”

Raymond had already made a name for himself in music, having pursued classical and then jazz from a young age. He was the musical director for a successful Nickelodeon series and a sideman for acts including Chaka Khan. From an early age, Raymond knew he was adopted, but he didn’t seek out his birth father until he was living on his own. Discovering his dad was David Crosby came as a shock. 

The father-son duo got along well from the start. “He was this nice, decent young guy, and we became friends immediately,” Crosby said. “We write spectacularly well together.” He says the final song on the album, For Free is Crosby’s favorite. It is I Won’t Stay For Long, which was written by Raymond. The album came out July 23, 2021 and was also produced by Raymond. Crosby says, “Imagine how I feel about my son being that good a writer. I wear it like a garland of flowers on my head. It’s just fucking wonderful.” They began playing music together and soon they formed the jazz-rock band CPR (Crosby, Pevar & Raymond). By January 1997, CPR was touring and performing.

On his website, Raymond talks about his work on the album – “Lyrically, where I started was this visual of agricultural workers in the Central Valley of California, truck drivers, laborers starting their workday early in the cold of morning … knowing that it would get hot as hell as the day wore on,” Raymond said. “I wanted to speak of their resiliency and spirit and that of so many other working folks across the USA.” Crosby added his storytelling and voice, and the results are an iconic father-son collaboration. 

James John Raymond is a musician, songwriter, producer and film composer living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I discovered on his website LINK>James Raymond that the composer contributed some additional music to one of my all time favorite movies – 2007’s August Rush. If you want to know more about him and his craft here is a somewhat technical explanatory YouTube.

I can’t help but think of my youngest, musical genius, son. This is the kind of YouTube, my son might make someday regarding his own compositions. My son does things like this YouTube with his Geometry Dash gameplay. He frequently composes music on his computer and posts it online, as well as playing it for us – his family.

Tragic

Angel and her Grandmother

Hers is a clear case of all that is wrong with foster care and the family court system. Monica Dunning, Angel’s grandmother, had successfully completed the foster parenting classes and background checks to become a licensed kinship foster care home. Dunning was seeking to be named her granddaughter’s guardian.

Angel’s mother died in a car crash on Halloween 2016. Dunning said that Angel was placed into child protective services in Tennessee the very next day because of a “no contact” order with her father. Dunning said her daughter was divorced from Ahearn at the time of her death. Allegations of domestic violence led to the court order that prevented him from seeing Angel. The girl passed through eight to ten foster homes in Tennessee over the next few years. Instead of being placed with her grandmother, Angel’s father was awarded custody of her on May 3, 2021.

“It’s heartbreaking that I feel like me and my family were absolutely robbed from the time that my daughter passed away. We just, we had very, very limited contact. And there was absolutely no reason why she couldn’t have come here,” Dunning said. After her father gained custody, she was no longer aware of Angel’s whereabouts until she got the call on October 18th that let her know that her granddaughter was dead. 

A third-party caller claiming to be Rachel Hollifield’s aunt said in the 911 call that for the past year her niece had repeatedly tried to run away from Leonard. She was not sure what triggered the shooting incident. The woman’s aunt told the dispatcher – she heard a scream in the house followed by gunshots and then it got silent while she was on the phone.

In his Georgia home, Leonard Ahearn first killed his daughter, Angel Ahearn, who had just turned 12. Then he shot Rachel Hollifield, his girlfriend, in the hand. Finally, he turned the gun on himself. Angel died at the scene. Leonard and Hollifield were transported to a hospital. Leonard later died from his injuries. Hollifield is expected to recover. 

Dunning was particularly frustrated because she had invested time and money to undergo the process to authorize her to care for Angel, in a home where Angel would have been safe. She said it seemed as if the officials in charge of Angel’s case “would place [Angel] with anybody” but her maternal grandmother.

Fathers And Custody

One of the cultural changes that has come to pass is fathers asserting their rights when faced with the loss of custody for their child. I am happy today because one battle has finally been hard won. It had been a 6 month battle that cost over $35,000 in legal fees. The judge awarded sole custody of the baby girl to her dad. Everyone is over the moon happy for him.

Today, I read about another father who was lied to about his child. I wonder how often this might happen, more often than I once thought. The way his father found out his daughter was alive was when an adoption agency lawyer called him to ask if he knew about his daughter’s birth. His ex had told him the babies (she had been expecting twins) were stillborn. DNA test results were that 99.9999% she is his daughter. The judge sided with the hopeful adoptive parents who have a 5 bedroom house with a pool, backyard and front yard plus grandma and grandpa living there too. His parental rights are due to be stripped and he will never get to meet his daughter. He mourned the death of twins he thought were stillborn for a year. Now he will lose his daughter again, after never even meeting her.

In more conventional custody situations, as of 2018, nearly 4 in 5 custodial parents were mothers (79.9%). But the statistics go deeper than that: Not only does the mother get custody of the children more often, the parents agree in more than half the cases (51%) that the mother should have custody. However, the number of children living with their father has more than quadrupled from 1% in 1968 to 4.5% in 2020. Many divorced fathers would prefer to have custody of their children but are not actually awarded custody. 65% of the time the female parent is awarded custody.

Personal confession – I was awarded custody of my daughter in my divorce case. However, due to financial hardship (with no child support asked for nor rendered), my daughter was raised by her dad and a step-mother. It was simply an agreement that to the best of my knowledge was never court ordered. It was not an easy role in the 1970s to be an absentee mother. Thankfully, I continue to have a good relationship with my daughter and her assistance to me when my parents were dying can never be adequately repaid but continues a source of deep gratitude for me.

Within the legal family court system, women are viewed as generous, trustworthy and friendly and there is a belief that they will have more time to spend with their children but this is not the reality in either single mother families or in families where both parents work. As of 2015, joint-custody arrangements were more common than sole paternal custody but less common than sole maternal custody. With regard to joint-custody arrangements: occurrences of domestic violence on the part of husbands was reduced.

It is surprisingly easy to find stories of fathers having to fight for custody against adoptive or foster parents. In a case I had looked at before, which was ruled just this 2022 year, the father had sought custody in a divorce petition filed in Iowa before his then-estranged wife gave birth. A judge ordered DNA testing and prohibited the child’s permanent placement or adoption. She gave birth in Michigan and a judge terminated parental rights of the birth mother and father, who was considered a non-surrendering party because he failed to respond to a generic legal notice published in a newspaper. The Michigan Supreme Court justices said the case presented challenging legal issues, with some concerned about the father’s due-process rights. Even so, the state’s Supreme Court sided with the adoptive parents of the nearly 4-year-old boy whose birth father had sought custody. That court reversed a decision by a state Court of Appeals panel that said the birth father’s parental rights were wrongly terminated, which provided the birth father with a chance at gaining custody.

If the topic interests you, you may wish to read this analysis – LINK>The Strange Life of Stanley v. Illinois: A Case Study in Parent Representation and Law Reform provided by the NYU Review of Law & Social Change – Legal Scholarship for Systemic Change. Thankfully, there has been dramatic and important growth of parent representation in child protection cases. In Stanley, the Supreme Court addressed Peter Stanley’s efforts to regain custody of his children from the Illinois foster care system after the death of his partner, Joan Stanley, to whom he was not married. Stanley became a canonical case regarding the rights of unwed fathers, and, crucially for the child protection field, it included a broader holding that only parental fitness can justify state action to remove children from their parents’ custody.

Culture and Identity

I am going to try and summarize a complex situation which could apply to others who might be reading my blog.

So a 17 year old got pregnant. A relationship that had lasted almost 2 years had broken up about a year before she got pregnant but they were still ”seeing each other” on and off. He wanted her to terminate, citing that he had a very traumatic childhood and was not ready to bring a child into the world, much less with someone he no longer wanted a relationship with.

She decided against it because she had previous losses and suspected infertility due to PCOS. As soon as she saw her baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, she knew she didn’t have it in her to terminate. That child is now 4 years old and carries the woman’s maiden name.

So the father then shamed her for her decision and told her she would regret it, tried to convince her to “at least put the kid up for adoption so it has a chance at a good life” and she honestly heavily debated doing that as they weren’t the only one to shame her and try to convince her she couldn’t be a good mother. She was very lost, confused and scared but ultimately decided she would keep the baby and try to give it the best life that she could, prepared to do it all on her own.

Before giving birth, she met someone. She had a gut feeling that she was capable of having a healthy relationship with this man. He there for her throughout the pregnancy, cut the umbilical cord and helped name the baby. After getting married to him, she discovered that she was again pregnant. She thought about changing her first daughter’s name but wondered if that was the ethical thing to do because she technically had another parent.

Recently, she reached out to her daughter’s estranged father and discovered that they had both changed exponentially. However, the father still does not think it’s a good idea to have contact with his daughter. He thinks his presence would somehow “mess up” her life because he still has personal issues he needs to work on. Her father is indigenous and this mother doesn’t want her daughter to grow up not knowing half of her lineage. She feels that her daughter is missing out on the rich and beautiful culture that she descends from. She says that he is not a bad person at all.

One commenter said – You are asking the right questions. You’re approaching this with humility and a desire to uphold what is best for your daughter, even if there are “easier” solutions that others are pushing for. Consider allowing her to decide when she is of age, whether she would like to be adopted by her stepdad. Adoption can be a good choice WHEN the adoptee’s needs, desires, and AGENCY are fully recognized and active. It’s as big a choice as marriage (perhaps more so!), and it is a decision that no adult should make for her, especially since she may want to consider tribal affiliation in the future.

He Did Not Give Birth

There is some push back on calling him the “birth” father. After all, he didn’t give birth. Often, the father isn’t actually known or is misrepresented by the woman giving birth. I know of situations where these kinds of circumstances exist.

Birth father has commonly be used to refer to a man who’s child is being or has been placed with an adoptive family. The actual man is certainly the genetic father. Some adoptees will derogatively refer to him as their sperm donor and that is accurate too. Others refer to him as their biodad. More than one will say simply that he should be referred to simply as “dad.”

Throughout history, men have had the easy path in human reproduction. Their contribution takes almost no time at all, whereas a woman must devote as much as 9 months of her life for a completely new human being to emerge into the world. Technically, what is referred to as a birth father is one who pays no child support. Often an adoption is finalized without the birth father’s knowledge or consent. If you are not married to the mother of your child at the time of birth, you are considered a ‘putative father,’ meaning reputed to be.  Often a genetic father denies he fathered a child until forced to do a paternity test which proves the truth (or not) of the situation.

And realistically this – being called birth father or bio father does not diminish what you as the birth mother have gone through. And this came up repeatedly – it really is up to the child what they chose to call their father. Also, the birth mother who started this was reminded that she needs to be very careful whenever she expresses disagreement because her relationship with her child could be snatched away, at any time – for any reason, that the adoptive parents see fit to do that. Don’t risk it over this because if she gets cut off her child will experience yet another loss. She does not get to be a gatekeeper regarding her child’s relationships. Her issues with her child’s father shouldn’t become her child’s issues. It doesn’t matter when his relationship with his child started because at least he has one now.

The Fathers’ Rights Movement

Approximately 46 years ago, my daughter ended up in the non-legally mandated custody of her father. When we divorced, I explained it to my 3 yr old daughter – you still have a mother who loves you and a father who loves you, we just aren’t going to be all living together again. As a bit of a feminist, I truly believed BOTH parents are important and I still believe that. As a mom, with what I have learned about in utero bonding, I do lean towards mothers in the early years more than it did then. I never intended for my ex-husband to raise our daughter. I didn’t leave her with him when I went in search of a method to make enough money to support the two of us. I left her with her paternal grandmother who had cared for her from 3 months of age while I went to work. But that is how she ended up being raised by her father and a step mother. Was it perfect ? No but I didn’t have a better option to offer her at that time either.

I recently donated to a legal fund through my all things adoption group for a birth father seeking custody of his soon to be born (may have already been born) child. His mother is assisting him. The birth mother has decided unilaterally to adopt out her baby to a wealthy couple and has cut off communication with the father. I just feel that a birth father with his mother’s support (much like my own daughter had) is better off there than with strangers who want to adopt her.

I had never heard of the Fathers’ Rights Movement before today. I know with my two sons how critical their father is in their lives as a genetic mirror for them. I am glad to be their mother and I know my nurturing of them matters. I am glad to have discovered, after feeling like a failure with my own daughter, that I am capable of being a “good enough” mother.

There has to be a good middle ground that supports the rights of BOTH parents. That is my view. My dad’s father likely never knew about his son. They would have been great fishing buddies. I don’t know what his reaction may have been had my paternal grandmother told him she was pregnant. He was married and as the self-reliant woman she was, she simply handled the situation.

So, I am simply sharing my new found knowledge of this organization for anyone who might need their support. The Fathers’ Rights Movement.

MIA Fathers

In adoptionland, it seems that most of the attention is on moms. Birth mothers, adoptive mothers, women who are mature adoptees. Certainly, the gestation of a baby is a huge bonding reality that is severed, if a child is removed from their mother or adopted out after birth.

It is hard to locate as much information about how men feel if they lose their fatherhood. Lots of stuff about men’s fathers dying but less about the impact on men, if they lose the opportunity to parent their children. Lots of stuff about the negative impact of absentee fathers on their children.

I did find one man’s blog in which he describes that since becoming a father himself, he now judges the value of potential friends based upon how they treat their own children. I did find that interesting. I do believe that men do care about their children – my children have different fathers. My daughter has the father that I married at the end of high school. I have written in the past how he ended up raising her with a step-mother, though that was never my own intention.

My two sons have their father because he wanted to be a father badly enough to accept a novel means of conceiving them. Because he was ready to be a father, he has been awesome in his role in the boys’ lives. I believe that readiness is an important factor is whether a man is successful at becoming a father (and in that case, regarding the likelihood of a divorce severing him from his children). I believe readiness is an important factor in determining how willingly a man goes the extra mile for his children.

You may find this blog by CJ Nigh, who writes as Undead Dad, interesting. He describes himself as an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. He describes his blog as being about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I think you may enjoy reading this offering – Finding Out Your Friend is an Absent Parent – for Father’s Day.

It would also be worthwhile to read this piece in Psychology Today – Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger – subtitled – The vital importance of paternal presence in children’s lives. I totally agree – parents are forcefully removed from their children’s lives, as daily caregivers, by misguided family court judgments. We have laws and policies that devalue the importance of parents in children’s lives and parental involvement as being critical to children’s well-being. In most cases, children benefit from having access to both parents—and parents need the support of social institutions in order to be there for their kids.

Ukrainian Twins

Lenny and Moishe

Straight off – I am NOT a fan of surrogacy. There was a mom in my mom’s group who used a surrogate because she was actively undergoing treatment for cancer. I remember the two of us sharing that we were using reproductive assistance for our husbands. She did pass away about the time her boy/girl twins turned 2 years old. After years of trying, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law finally were successful in bringing a son into their lives.

My problem with surrogacy has arisen out of my gaining knowledge about the trauma of separating any baby from the mom in who’s womb the baby gestated. This is detailed in the book The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. Even though my own family has depended upon medical technology to create our sons, I am at least grateful that in our own ignorance, we did one thing right – my sons both grew in my womb and nursed at my breast. I have been able to do something with them that I wasn’t even able to do for my biological, genetic daughter – be in the boy’s lives throughout their childhood.

The Russian war against Ukraine is heartbreaking and difficult to be a witness of. So, a feel good story coming out of that country is welcome. NPR did a follow-up to this story that had more than it’s share of bumps along the way. The genetic, biological father of these twins Alex Spektor was born in Ukraine, when it was part of the Soviet Union, and his family came to the US as Jewish refugees. From experience, I do believe that boys benefit from the genetic, biological mirror of being raised by their father. 

The mother was a surrogate; and therefore, was never intended to parent these babies. His twins were born prematurely to the surrogate mother in Kyiv just as Russia began its war on Ukraine. In a dramatic mission called “Operation Gemini,” the babies and the surrogate were rescued from Ukraine in March. They dodged Russian artillery fire, drove through a snowstorm, and finally arrived at a Polish hospital where Alex met his boys for the first time.

For 2 months, the family was stuck in bureaucratic limbo in Poland. Alex’s wife, Irma had flown to Poland in early March, after the twins had been evacuated. She had stayed in Chicago to get the family’s legal paperwork in order. She arrived late at night and the next morning went straight to the hospital where her twins were. Alex and Irma have spent those 2 months fighting to take their twins home to Chicago.

The hospital said they needed to prove the twin’s paternity in order to discharge the kids. The American embassy said in order for them to get passports for the boys, the parents needed to bring their twins to Warsaw. Eventually officials needed to see the birth certificates and they were still in Ukraine. So, Alex crossed from the Polish city of Rzeszow back over the border to retrieve the documents from the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Finally, the couple and their twins were able to fly home to Chicago. Alex now says his experience with his twins has made him feel closer to the place of his birth. Because of these experiences, friends of the couple in Chicago have created an organization known as the Ukraine TrustChain. They provide medical supplies, baby formula, food and other essentials to people in the war.

Yet Another Story of Misattributed Parentage

Mark Overbay

Story thanks to the Right to Know people.

Every MPE (misattributed paternal event or misattributed parentage) story has a starting point. The discovery comes entirely by surprise for many, whereas it confirms others’ long-held, conscious or subconscious, suspicions. If there truly is one, the typical story involves submitting a direct-to-consumer/recreational DNA test yourself or being contacted out of the blue by someone who has. Mine has a little of each with an added twist.

One afternoon, a friend of mine called me with what he described as “interesting news.” He told me that he and his older sister had taken DNA tests and found something unexpected. He informed me that both had discovered the man they thought their father wasn’t. Their research afterward led them to believe that my father was their BF (birth father). Additionally, they had reached out and somehow convinced my father to submit a DNA test. The results confirmed their research findings. “We,” he informed me, “are half-brothers.” He sent me a screenshot of the DNA evidence to prove it. Because I was already aware of two other half-siblings from my father, this news honestly wasn’t that surprising. I remember laughing with him about the strangeness of our new situation.

What my friend didn’t know, however, is that many years ago, I had also taken a DNA test from the same direct-to-consumer company, primarily because I was ethnicity curious (as both of my own parents were adopted – this was originally my own motivation). When I told him about this, he informed me that I wasn’t on his match list and followed with the question, “You are the adopted one, right?” “Adopted? I was not adopted.” I quickly replied. Confused, he told me that my father had told his sister I was adopted. He must have misunderstood. I was 58 years old and was confident that I wasn’t adopted. My birth certificate listed my father and mother. I had seen it many times. I called his sister to see where this part of the story originated. She repeated her brother’s claim that my father had told her I was adopted. Further, she explained, he had married my mother, knowing she was pregnant with another man’s child.

When I learned the adoption news, I was more than two hours from home and my laptop. I wasn’t laughing anymore. My head was now cloudy and confused. The drive home was a blur. “Could this be possible?” I asked myself, “Was I adopted?” Once I arrived, I quickly checked my DNA matches. Neither my father nor these two new “half-siblings” were there. As I surveyed my 80,000 + matches, none matched my surname. I found that it was 100% confident regarding the connections tied to my mother. However, most of my “close” matches were surnames utterly foreign to me.

It was true then; I had been “adopted” by my BCF (birth certificate father). But, unfortunately, my mother had taken her secret to the grave. My BCF had told a stranger rather than me. I found out I was an NPE from a friend who was a completely unrelated NPE (nonpaternal event, also sometimes nonparental event). My friend was right about the adoption but wrong about the two of us. We were not related. In a nutshell, that’s how my story began.

Life does not prepare you for such moments. As abrupt and shocking as it was, this revelation explained so much. My physical appearance, personality, and temperament differed significantly from my father’s. I was athletic; he was not. We had little to nothing in common and even less to talk about. We have not spoken in many years. Those who knew both my father and me well commonly joked that I must be “the milkman’s child.” My wife has known my father for more than 30 years and never once thought we were related. I laughed these comments off, but I really couldn’t disagree. The differences were problematic to me. I knew enough about genetics to know that much of what defines our identity, the sense of who we are, is inherited. I feared that I would start to see undesirable attributes of my father revealing themselves in me one day.

The realization that I was adopted lifted an incalculable weight from my shoulders. The fear that I would someday become my father was a burden more significant than I had previously appreciated. Yet, strangely perhaps, as the reality set in, this genetic enlightenment was validating and liberating for me. The truth had freed me.

You can read the rest of his happy ending family reunion story here – Mark Overbay.

Folksong by Cory Goodrich

corygoodrich.com

This is not my personal story but I do know at least one friend for whom it IS their story as well and so, I have become more interested in NPEs.

Cory Goodrich is a NPE or the recipient of a non-paternity event. This is when someone who is presumed to be an individual’s father is NOT in fact the biological father. This presumption may be on the part of the individual, the parents, or the attending midwife, physician or nurse.

“I’ve always questioned so many things about my family and my life throughout the years, and also about my own mother, who always seemed to be holding back,” Goodrich said.

“I finally decided to ask myself the questions: If a family tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to see it, do I even exist?” I do love this tree related quote !!

A promotional description paragraph sums up the book, Folksong by Cory Goodrich.

“It’s a story about the father who took her in, the father who took her away, the father who gave her away, and her 89-year-old mother, whose broken heart finally gave out while still protecting the secret to Goodrich’s identity. Sifting through the remnants of a life captured in letters and old Polaroids, Goodrich discovers a secret that sets her on a journey with life-altering consequences. In the era of Ancestry.com, DNA testing, and social media, Goodrich was able to gather together just enough pieces of a puzzle locked away for over 50 years to clearly make out the unfathomable image it depicted. Goodrich reminds that while things aren’t always what they seem, stunning fortitude and unexpected legacy can rise from the disorganized ashes of a toppled identity.”

Goodrich says, “I describe ‘Folksong’ as a memoir of love and longing, an ode to self-discovery, an emotional ballad of grief and forgiveness, and a heart-stirring look at the lengths to which a family will go to protect themselves and each other.”

Sometimes, a few breadcrumbs are all you need, as I discovered during my own family roots journey. Since my dad’s mom was unwed and she didn’t name his father on his birth certificate, I thought I’d never be able to know who my paternal grandfather was. I will admit that getting my DNA tested at Ancestry and some intriguing “hints” of some people I seemed to related to – actually were – right on target. When I finally had a last name for my paternal grandfather, the man I once contacted through Ancestry, who finally months later, wrote me – I wish I could help but none of the names you have given me seem related to me. Then, I gave him the new name – mystery solved – my grandfather was his grandmother’s brother.

Disclaimer – I have not read this book. Still I would recommend it to anyone feels they may also be a NPE.

The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say?

You’ve got a blank face, which irritates

You see dimensions in two

State your case with black or white

But when one little cross leads to

You run for cover so discreet, why don’t they

Do what they say, say what you mean

You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long but then

One thing leads to another

~ partial lyrics from The Fixx song One Thing Leads to Another