Denial of Paternity

Today’s sticky situation . . .

We have four children, they are all siblings via mom. They are four of her six children.

Child 1&2 are adopted via foster care. Child 3 & 4 we have full custody/guardianship. Mom stated father for child 4 was transient. She didn’t want child with him or his family and wished for this child to be with siblings and have access to her (mom). Her fiancée has claimed this child and child has his last name. He is not the biological father, nor is he listed on the bc due to hospital staff interference. But mom calls him dad to the child.

We had a visit with mom & fiancée over the weekend. She disclosed that her and fiancée broke up recently and during this break she reached out to child 4’s dad and informed him of this child. He denied the child and said he is infertile and a baby is not possible.

We feel very perplexed – do we personally reach out to dad? We had decided before that this was mom’s call – her child, her choice. She values the sibling relationship a lot – and we do have contact with her oldest two children. And contact with the mom regularly. She had feared that if the dad knew, he would take the baby and never let the child see mom or the child’s siblings.

Now that dad has been informed, what is best for this child? Is it best for us to reach out to him? Is it best to leave it and allow the child to decide when she is older (and when is that age?) if she wants to pursue contact and a relationship? We never want to withhold a child from a parent or keep a parent from parenting. We also don’t want to go against mom’s wishes or break apart siblings.

Now some advice . . .

The suspected dad isn’t about to pop up and make trouble. Just leave it for now. Let mom manage this how she sees fit unless it becomes necessary to intervene. If he’s denying the child to her, and isn’t interested in the child, then it should be the mom that communicates the reality to the child in question. It isn’t your place to take matters into your own hands. You can let the mom know that he can reach out to you, if he desires to. Is this man afraid he will be saddled with child support ? That is often a big disincentive to involvement.

That said, any child deserves to know who their biological father is, especially if there aren’t any safety issues as to why they shouldn’t. Maybe after he has some time to cool off and calm down, he would be willing to do a paternity test. It is easy to understand that he is right to be angry and irritated. A child that is potentially of him was purposely kept from him. Ask mom for basic information, so you have it for the child.

Finally this, Are you willing to pay for a DNA test ? If so, I’d reach out and offer to pay for that, so he can have peace of mind (and your child can know). You can do cheek swabs by mail without meeting up. If you’re not willing/ able to pay, I would leave it alone for now but save any information you can acquire for your child as they grow up.

When The Money Matters

Family court is always about who can outspend the other, not about who is best for a child. Now, if you are biological family to a child who’s parents aren’t fit and that child is taken by the Dept of Social Services, any foster parent can outspend you in court and adopt and take that kid, YOUR BLOOD family, anywhere they want. Biology means nothing compared to a “foster” parent wishing to adopt a “Same Race American” baby the cheap way.

Its much more expensive to adopt a child if you’re not a foster parent, but you can run most families in the ground financially trying to save their blood, and take that child with the help of Dept of Social Services (taxpayers help pay for these adoptions) for much less, usually. All thanks to this case ruling that was only intended to allow a foster to adopt – only – if the biological family was ALL unfit.

Now it applies in any case, even when that child has a huge, wonderful, loving family, even if a family has to cut ties with a biological parent. As always, $$$ talks, and this child could lose her wonderful grandparents after a $100,000 + 3 year battle.

I am so heartbroken for Gracie and The Hajeks. This case could affect any of us and often no one even knows about a family’s challenges. Many of us have either benefitted or lost in a divorce/custody case because of the amount of money we could spend, rather than what was in the best interest of the child. It would be morally wrong if this child is purchased by the highest bidder, rather than remaining with her natural family.

It is a complicated legal case – the grandparents have a temporary joint custody of their granddaughter in an odd custody arrangement that includes the former foster caregivers. The grandparents are being pushed to settle with previous foster parents because they want to adopt the child.

The girl was taken away from her mom at 3 days old when drugs were discovered in her biological system. The baby girl was then placed into foster care. The girl’s mom had tried to hide the identity of her dad and so put someone else’s name on the birth certificate (my own sister did that with my nephew).

So, the grandparents found out about the baby’s existence when she was 3 months old. Their son had learned about her and was trying to get custody. He had to have his paternity confirmed. This was finally completed when the baby girl was 7 months old. Though he wanted a relationship with his daughter, he wisely believed he could not care for her fully and asked his parents to step in. They willingly agreed.

The Dept of Social Services and the child’s Guardian Ad Litem recommended family placement. The judge presiding at the time awarded a visitation schedule to the foster caregivers along with placement with grandparents. Several months ago, when the Dept of Social Services wanted to close the case, the judge awarded an odd temporary joint custody between grandparents and foster caregivers. The girl spends 3 days with the foster parents and 4 days with her grandparents. The grandparents do have final say in her issues. The Dept of Social Services is no longer involved.

The foster caregivers are now fighting in court to adopt the 4 yr old girl. They have not done much to move the case forward. The strategy appears to be continuing the case, so that the grandparents run out of money and lose by default. The foster caregivers have never been generous as they have always wanted to adopt her. Originally they only wanted to give the grandparents 4 weekends a year. The grandparents pushed for their rights and were given every other weekend.

The grandparents are young – age 40 and under. They want to raise their granddaughter but feel trapped in the legal system. They don’t have funds to fight the foster caregivers for much longer. The grandparents have lost their lawyer because of falling into arrears in their payment of legal fees. So now, they are on their own in this fight.

Only noting here that the male foster caregiver is a police officer and worked as a court bailiff for many years. So he knows how the legal system functions.

Here is the link, Help The Hajek Family Fundraiser, if you are willing to donate to the grandparents’ legal expenses.

Is Guardianship Enough ?

As prospective adoptive and foster parents find the all things adoption group I belong to, some of their perspectives truly do begin to change. Same for expectant mothers thinking about surrendering their child for adoption, then changing their mind and deciding that they may actually be capable of raising their own child. Always a happy outcome.

Unfortunately, many Division of Children and Families agencies at the state level still operate from an obsolete point of view. Here’s a story from one foster mother who is facing that dilemma.

We have a 7 year old pre-adoptive foster son that has lived with us for 21+ months. I always had the intention of adopting (until I joined this group), but we were only regular foster parents until this boy moved in. Everything was going “well” and mom was going to sign an open adoption agreement. Then the pandemic hit and we had to supervise their video visits, which ended up being good because we got to know each other. Then we offered to supervise the monthly in-person visits. I joined this group and now I’m trying to help mom to get her son back. She is working on her plan and I’m so proud of her, but I am not sure it will be enough for Division of Children and Families. We have a permanency meeting in a month, so I need some help.

I have 2 questions about our situation:

For the adoptive parents/foster parents in the group: How do you navigate changing a goal of adoption to guardianship, when the department has said in the past that doesn’t offer enough permanency for the child and they would move him. Is a 7-8 year old listened to, if the child says he wants to live here forever but only if his mom can’t get better?

For the adoptees/former foster youth in the group: Let’s assume mom’s rights are terminated. There is no dad involved and there literally is no family that could take this boy in and raise him. How do we know if this boy really wants to be adopted by us or not? How do we know if guardianship is or isn’t enough for him? We have a biological child who is only 6 months, in case that matters. How old is old enough for us to follow what the boy requests? We have heard so many adoptive parents talk about how their children’s behaviors changed after adoption because they felt “secure”, but after reading so much stuff in this group, I have a whole different view about adoption. Yet I don’t know how to figure out what our foster son would really want or if he would think we love him less, if we don’t adopt him.

Only one response, from an adoptive/foster parent so far but it could be helpful to others in a similar situation –

Does he have a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or GAL (Guardian ad Litem) ? I am not sure what state he is in but in Indiana, the guardianship petitions are heard in a separate court outside of the Child Protective Services court. Child Protective Services is notified that a guardianship petition has been filed and they can come and object, if they want but sometimes they don’t.

So I would think, if you get an attorney and just file it – with mom being in agreement, then they would have to come and object, explaining why adoption is better. I think if mom is making some efforts, then that would be a bonus towards guardianship.

Guardianship is always an option. I haven’t figured out why they don’t push more for guardianship for very young children and what the age is that it suddenly becomes an option but I have seen our state grant guardianship with a Child Protective Services case for kids as young as 2 years old.

Also, I don’t think it is ethical for the department to threaten you with moving him. So I would ask for a supervisor or above to sit in on your next meeting and just ask for them to explain why this is happening and why adoption is the only option. I would personally tell you that we have custody/guardianship for our two youngest and it has been good.

Forever Family ?

One adoptee wrote –

Does “forever family” rub you the wrong way?

I cringe EVERYTIME I hear it. So many of us were told this mythical thing exists, but then turns out we were always on some sort of weird job interview where there are no rules and the requirements of the job change depending on the mood of the boss, the boss’ family, or the boss’ pets.

I don’t think I ever had a “forever family”? Did you? Do you now?

When I finally became aware of my true biological, genetic family relations something dissolved in my feelings toward the members of my “family” that were only that due to adoption.

Does that mean I love the deceased grandparents LESS who were present in my life growing up ?  No, it doesn’t mean that.  I cherish my memories of the times I spent with them.  They always treated us genuinely and from a sense of loving us.

Does that mean that my aunts, uncles and cousins by adoption don’t seem quite as real to me anymore ?  That is true, though I acknowledge their humanity and that they are ALL of them good people.

Learning the truth about my parents adoptions and original family and re-connecting with the genetic/biological family I never knew all my life has meant more to me than I can possible convey to you in these brief blogs.

At the same time, there is this sad effect – I don’t feel like I belong to any of them.  Truth.  The adoptive family is no longer real family.  The real family I have no life experience with and can only try to go forward with 6 decades missing.

No – family is not forever.  My parents and my in-laws and my grandparents are all deceased now.  Divorces have happened, children have grown up in different families, cousins have always been distant anyway.  Where does one find family ?  Only in those people who we sense are able to accept us just as we are no matter what.

Where Does The Fear Come From ?

When my sons were very young and often difficult, so instinctual they were not ready for rational logic and I had to somehow stop whatever, I used to worry a lot that some well-meaning person, or some surveillance camera or simply because we made the choice to educate our sons at home, would cause us to loose custody of them.  Thankfully, they are both almost grown now and have never been away and there has been at least one parent present with them at all times.

Former foster youth sometimes live in constant fear of their children being taken away from them for no good reason.  They may also fear that for some reason they are incapable of properly raising their children. Fears might swing between “they will get taken because the system knows I was a foster kid and is already looking down on me” to “I think I actually am a crap mom.”

I actually thought I was a crap mom for not raising my daughter.  Then many years later, I had an opportunity in a new marriage to have two sons.  Now I know that maybe I’m not the greatest mom but I do love ALL of my children and am always doing the best I can.  I always hope my best is good enough.

I beat myself up over any poor parenting choice. I spoil my kids – that is sort of true but maybe not too much.

Children do not come with care manuals.  Every child is different in temperament and personality.  What works with one does not work with the other.  One son is persistent and defiant.  The other is passive and emotional.  The first could not be disciplined with any amount of physical effort.  The second one we had to tread carefully not to set him off because he cried so easily for a very long time and could not be soothed.

Whether we were adopted or taken from our parents and placed in foster care – I believe every parent faults their skills in raising children.  Some people make it look so easy.  It could be that if you asked them, they would have the same doubts and fears you do.

How Grief Passes Down the Family Line

A dear friend pointed out that I don’t seem to believe I have the right to be a mother.  The circumstances of my life have done this to me.  The tears come.  She was quite perceptive.

She noted that on a photo of my daughter and her family (children and husband) I wrote – that I could take no credit for the wonderful person she is because I didn’t raise her after the age of 3.  My friend noted – When men take your children away they really do a number on women.

This is sadly true and it has happened to me with ALL of my children in one way or another.  So, my ex-husband ended up raising my daughter when my own desperation to financially support us led me to try driving an 18-wheel truck to make some decent money because he simply refused to pay any child support and I wasn’t going to spend my life in court fighting against him.

Truth be told, I never intended for him to raise her.  I left her with her paternal grandmother for temporary care that I had no idea how long that would be needed.  The grandmother could be forgiven for viewing that as my having abandoned her.  That was never my perspective but I can see how it may have looked that way as the days turned into weeks and then months.

That her father could give her a family life with siblings had everything to do with my not even attempting to interrupt that blessing (which is how I saw it though I have learned recently that “blessed” was not exactly how it was experienced by her and more’s the sorrow in this mother’s heart).  She rightly views her step-mother as her mother and who am I to argue with that perception.

Then there are my sons who are donor conceived.  Therefore, I do see them as more rightfully my husband’s than my own.  Again, robbed of my own children by the circumstances of my life which I do not claim that I am a victim of but the one who made every choice to bring these circumstances about.

So I wonder about the grief that is passed down the generations.  Both of my parents were adopted.  Therefore, BOTH of my own grandmothers suffered the same kind of grief I experience and my sisters experience (both of my sisters also lost either by surrendering to adoption or the courts) an opportunity to raise their own children.

The only good thing I can say about it all at this point is that our children have survived and are managing to raise their own children, even a nephew who in a sense is fulfilling my friend’s insight as he has custody of his own son after a divorce.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

It Is Always Rigged

Money drives adoption and the poor are unsupported.  I believe society should fully support mothers until the children reach maturity so that they have the means to raise them.  Too often mothers lose custody of their children for no other reason than poverty.

The adoption laws are skewed to support adoptive parents – because they have the money.  The laws are skewed to support the industry – agencies, social workers and lawyers – because they are profiting from it.  No one seems to truly care about the child or the child’s original mother.  This is just so very wrong and contributes to damaged individuals that become a burden, though not intending to, upon society.

American domestic infant and international adoption has become privatized and entrepreneurial. Only adoption from foster care remains in the hands of the state and unfortunately represents its own set of failures, abuses and funding driven corruption.

The difference between for- and not-for-profit adoption agencies is merely a tax status, though the later gives an illusion of a charitable organization. Coupled with warm, fuzzy, cutesy names that tug at the heartstrings, clients are deluded into a false sense of propriety, oversight and security. The fact is that both types of agencies are commercial businesses that rely on the fees of a completed transaction to pay their overhead and salaries which is less glamorous and far less altruistic than the public perception of adoption. All vetting and home studies are paid for by the clients seeking a child. Basically, anyone who can afford the fees, which average about $40,000, can adopt, including pedophiles and abusers of all kinds. Pay the fee and get the goods. It’s a supply and demand business in a mega-billion dollar a year industry.

In addition to businesses that fill a demand for children to adopt, there is also the Do-It-Yourself type of adoption that is legally permitted in the U.S. Those seeking to find an infant to adopt, as well as anyone seeking to place a child for adoption, can find one another through newspaper advertisements, and online via Craig’s List or social media such as Facebook, and have their attorney handle necessary filings to make the adoption legal. Just like a “For Sale by Owner” house listing, middlemen “finder” fees are avoided by the DIY method. But, so too are any protections and any professional advice said fees may offer.

In either case – on your own or with the assistance of an adoption agency – the process winds up resulting in prospective couples matched with expectant mothers which, opens the door to unhealthy, unequal relationships.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

This may be a bit off topic but this morning I was contemplating that when I was yet younger than my son who will turn 18 at the end of this month, I had already married.  Inconceivable to me now.  Today I thought – what were my parents thinking ?  We had all the trappings – church wedding, cake, reception – totally traditional.

So I thought – they were afraid I would end up pregnant like my mom ended pregnant with me before she married.  They wanted to break the cycle.  And I did.  Then, I got pregnant by the end of the year I had married.  It was intentional and neither myself nor my ex-husband regret having our daughter.  As he said to me not all that long ago – “We got lucky.”  Even though our marriage failed.

I cannot imagine my son being expected to support his family and be independent at the age he is now.  But we were expected to do that very thing.  My parents had been expected to do that as well – my dad 18 and my mom 16.  Having grown up middle class, not privileged but not in abject poverty, fed on the illusions TV portrayed to me – I had unrealistic expectations and expected too much of us.

It’s no wonder the marriage failed.  When I wanted a divorce, my ex-husband told me he would never pay a cent of child support to me.  That proved to be true as well.  What happened is – he ended up supporting her through most of her childhood, when as a single mom, I could not.  I wasn’t going to fight with him in court to get support out of him for the rest of our lives as “parents”.  But I paid a high price – as I wasn’t able to raise my own child, to be there for her everyday, and it was not without suffering on the part of my daughter as well.