Break The Cycle

Early on in my education regarding all things adoption (which includes foster care), I became aware of a lot of valid evidence that trauma is passed down through families. I could see how this happened in my own family.

Take my parents (both adopted) original mothers. My dad’s mother lost her own mother only 3 months after her birth and went on to endure a truly wicked step-mother. My mom’s mother lost her own mother at the age of 11. Being the oldest, she inherited younger siblings to care for, the youngest not yet one year old. Her father never remarried, which might be just as well, but I have heard now what I suspected – he was a hard man, who without his wife, didn’t know how to love. There is trauma, particularly for a daughter who loses her mother.

There are my parents who were both torn from their mothers and surrendered to adoption. My mom’s mother was exploited in her financial duress by Georgia Tann in the 1930s when social safety nets didn’t exist. After months of resisting their pressure, my dad’s mother gave in to The Salvation Army and surrendered her son to them, which eventually led to his own adoption. I’m entirely convinced that had my grandmothers had sufficient support and encouragement, they would have raised their children. It is entirely possible that had their mothers been alive, they would not have relinquished.

My parents found each other in high school. Though they both shared the backhole void of origin information as adoptees, they were not of the same perspective regarding their adoptions. My mom confided this to me because she couldn’t talk about her yearning to locate her original mother to my dad who warned her against opening a can of worms. They were good enough parents. We knew we were loved but they were strangely detached as parents. I only know this as an adult observing how other parents generally feel a long-term involvement in their children’s lives.

With me, I knew they expected me to leave as soon as I graduated from high school and so, I married and a year later had a daughter (for which I am eternally grateful). The marriage was flawed by the time I was pregnant with her and by the time she was 3 years old, I was no longer married but also unable to support us as my ex-husband refused to pay any child support (since it was my decision to leave him). Eventually, he ended up raising her. She ended up with a stay at home stepmother and for the most part, it seems to have worked out for the best – for her – but never for me. I still struggle with coming to terms with having been an absentee mother over 60 years later.

Both of my sisters gave up a child to adoption. One, considering it quite normal (and now the truth be known there was an extremely complicating factor – the father was a good friend of our dad’s), always intended to relinquish. Shocking to me was that our own mom, who struggled with having been adopted herself, pressured and guided my other sister to give up her baby for adoption – and she tried to get the support of the social safety net that existed in the late 70s, early 80s but was refused because she was sheltering with our parents while pregnant and their financial strength was used against my sister’s request for assistance. That sister also lost her first born in an ugly custody case brought by her in-laws when she divorced that child’s father.

Mostly, these children of ours are breaking the cycle and are wonderful parents. One has struggled with failed marriages but has remained solid with his own son. I hope these recent successes continue on down our family line.

Increasingly Frequent

This is not the first story that I have read where a man didn’t know he was the father of a child until the court contacted him prior to allowing his biological/genetically related child to be adopted by strangers. And in fact, there are two instances of such fathers who didn’t know in my own family – my nephew who my sister lied about the responsible man and my dad, whose father was married not to my grandmother and since she simply handled it quietly herself, the man never knew.

However, in modern times now, there is a new push to make sure a father doesn’t want his child – even if the mother wants to relinquish. Hence, today’s story (comments in parentheses are my own) –

My foster daughter is 17 months old and we’ve had her since birth. Her biological mom signed away her rights. She said she’ll never be the mother our little one needs. She doesn’t want our daughter growing up in foster care.

Her biological mom wants her to be adopted by us. Her mom is 19 years old and is a former foster care youth who aged out of foster care. She knows we’re the best parents for our daughter (according to this foster mom who hopes to adopt). She made the selfless decision to put her child’s needs before her own.

Everything was going well until the courts said our little one’s biological dad showed up. The courts had to find the biological father. I don’t think this should be allowed. We were so close to adopting our daughter. I may be a little selfish here but I want him to sign away his rights so we can adopt.

(Note the possessiveness) This child is very much our child and we’re the only parents she knows. Losing her would be traumatic. Her biological dad didn’t know he had child until he was contacted. If you don’t know you have a child, then you shouldn’t get custody of the child. (What kind of argument is that ? Self-serving ?)

The only dad our daughter knows is my husband. She calls him daddy. He IS her daddy. We might lose our daughter to a man who is being selfish. Just because he shares DNA with our girl. Why can’t her biological dad see our daughter is settled and better off with us ?

Her dad works at Burger King. That’s not a real job to raise a child. Her biological dad can’t even take care of himself. Who will help him raise our daughter ? It’s selfish for her dad to fight for our child, instead of doing the right thing and signing away his rights (from this foster mother’s perspective of course). He’s putting his needs above hers.

How can we get her biological dad to see our daughter is bonded to us ? How can we get him to see the trauma of removing our daughter from the only home she knows ? How can we get him to see being a father isn’t in DNA ? DNA is overrated. (Of course, the genetics are over-rated to people who don’t share them with the child they want to possess.) Our daughter could care less about DNA. (Of course, she is ONLY 17 months old !!)

She knows who her daddy is. It’s not the man who’s biologically related to her. We hired a lawyer but the lawyer said he can’t do anything for us. I’m heartbroken. I’ll never recover losing my daughter to a man she has never met and didn’t know she existed.

Laws need to change to put the child first. If the biological dad doesn’t know he has a child, then he shouldn’t be contacted. DNA is overrated and isn’t the child’s best interests. Our daughter is bonded to us. Our daughter calls us mommy and daddy. We are mommy and daddy. Her biological dad will never be the daddy she needs (in the foster mother’s opinion of course). I don’t believe her biological dad understands what our daughter needs.

If we lose our daughter she’ll lose me as her mommy. She’s very bonded to us. We are her family. Every child needs a mommy and daddy to love them.

Please pray her biological dad backs off and signs away his rights. Please pray for the best interests of our child. Please pray reunification isn’t successful with her biological dad. Please pray for us. Pray for our daughter. We can’t lose our daughter. Our girl was born to be with us. God placed her with us for a reason. God knew she was our daughter. We were meant to be her mommy and daddy. Now the devil is trying to work his way in. Please pray hard for our family (and for reunification to fail ?)

(Note – it is common for God and religion to be used as a justification for tearing the natural family apart. This girl is young and she can make the adjustment. Also note the superiority and entitlement this woman expresses.  The dad will probably NOT work at Burger King all his life but there probably are dads raising their own kids who do.)

Seeking Ever More Accuracy

Years ago, the phrase NPE was coined to generally mean when the expected parent or parents weren’t.

  • NPE means nonpaternal event, also sometimes nonparental event.
  • Some folks didn’t like that term and began to use MPE, misattributed paternal event or misattributed parentage.

Of course, today, this situation could arise as a result of an adoption, a donor situation, either male or female, or the more often thought-of situation where the father isn’t who he’s presumed/believed to be based on the circumstances at hand.

There is one in my family. My sister never let on, even though I was supporting her through an unplanned, unwed pregnancy and was aware of her decision to surrender her child to adoption and was in on her thoughts as she made a decision on which hopeful adoptive parents to chose. For many years, I had a little lockbox in keeping for my nephew which I finally gave him in late 2016.

Imagine my own shock when his adoptive mother informed me that they were questioning the official paternity on his birth certificate. The DNA didn’t seem to add up. She was one of those good adoptive mothers who supported her adopted child’s search for the truth of his origins.

The actual father, proven by advanced DNA testing due to some uncertainty over which brother the father actually was, turned out to be my dad’s friend and former co-worker. What is worse is what I learned subsequently – that my sister actually did know who the father actually was. She informed him 6 months after the boy was born as though he had only just been born. Then, when the father indicated he was going to sue for custody because he never agreed to the adoption, very early in the morning on one Father’s Day, she called to tell him his son and the adoptive parents had been killed in a car accident. Imagine his father’s shock when this son turned up on his doorstep already in his 20s.

So, my sister is genuinely mentally ill. I don’t excuse this behavior even so. One can’t make these things up and it happens more often than one might think.

So, as the whole adoption related community (adoptees, original parents and adoptive parents joined by a whole host of friends and related family) seeks more accurate terminology, NPE has now been replaced by MPE – misattributed paternal event.

Inexpensive DNA testing and matching sites like Ancestry and 23 and Me are bringing truth into many adoptees lives, and in cases such as my own as the child of two adoptees, and has made all the difference in making us whole, in contact with our genetic origins and often with family members who’s lives continued to unfold, unknown to us, due to the rupture forced by adoption on the original family trees.

What’s In A Name ?

It may be true that a name is only that – a name – and not the person.  Of all the suggestions for reform in the process of adoption, I can clearly see that changing a child’s name at the time of adoption is wrong.  It is taking from the child their true identity.

Now, it does happen, as it did happen with my youngest sister’s son that the true father was not who was named on the birth certificate.  I do know she was able to coerce the poor man, who had some financial means, to pay a great deal of the costs of her developing an adoption plan for her son.  She gave him this man’s last name at birth and named that man on the birth certificate as his father.

It came to pass as this young man began to mature that he became interested in knowing more about his actual father.  DNA testing seemed to indicate that who had been named could not possibly be who fathered him.  A search for the true father began.

At first I believed that my sister simply did not know for certain who the father was and so chose the one most like to be financially supportive of her effort to provide for her baby.  It turns out that with the revelation of the true father, my sister actually did know.  Maybe, since this man was a colleague of our father’s and since my sister was devoted to our father, she simply did not want our father to know . . .

That is my kindest interpretation.  What I do know is at about 6 months, although she had relinquished her son to an adoptive couple shortly after his birth, she sent a photo after birth and a letter to the real father informing him.  So it cannot be said that she did not know.  What’s really unforgivable is that the true father DID want to raise his son and his wife was supportive of bringing that baby into their lives.  They planned to fight for custody of the child and so informed my sister.

Then the cruelest thing happened on Father’s Day, my sister called the true father to inform him that the baby and his adoptive parents had been killed in a car accident ending all attempts to seek custody.

This young man is a fine person and given what I know about my sister’s life after giving birth to him, I’m glad she didn’t raise him.  The first adoptive father left the family due to having an affair.  Eventually, the mother remarried and my nephew thought so much of the man, he had his surname changed yet again to match the new father.

Also, what amazes me is that in my own adoptee father’s life, his mother had to put her abusive alcoholic husband out.  Therefore, when my dad was already 8 years old, he was adopted a second time by the new husband.  My paternal adoptive grandfather was a good man and he stayed with my Granny until death did them part.