The April 15, 2013 New York Times op-ed A Wrenching Adoption Case reveals more about the gender leanings of the newspaper than it does the facts of the case, which the editors either ignored; or, buried.
In brief, this case, Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, has to do with purported violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act which, as the NY Times rightly notes,”… was passed in 1978 to prevent state and local welfare offices from separating Indian children from their parents, many without good reason, and placing them in non-Indian homes.”
Baby Girl was born to an American Indian father and non American Indian mother. The biological parents were not married to each other and the father, supposedly and voluntarily, gave up his parental rights. The mother allowed Baby Girl to be adopted. The father later asserted his parental rights.
The NY Times asserted, “In cases like this one, it makes little sense to allow a biological father who was not in the picture from surfacing belatedly and vetoing an adoption that would be in the best interests of the child. The Supreme Court should reverse the South Carolina State court rulings.”
The NY Times offered that the non-American-Indian mother was not married to the biological American Indian father. The mother had an undisputed right to raise the child, “Baby Girl,” on her own because the father had voluntarily given over to her his parental rights by text message. Consequently, she had a right to voluntarily place Baby Girl up for adoption with a non-Indian couple. She was already raising two children as a single mother and felt adoption was in the best interests of Baby Girl. And, the father refused to help her financially.
The op-ed says, “The adoptive parents raised the girl from her birth until she was 27 months old. After the biological father challenged the adoption, a South Carolina family court ordered them to transfer custody to him.”
But there’s more, much more, more that the NY Times omitted. The father was in the military and scheduled for an overseas assignment when Baby Girl was born. He and the mother were planning to get married. He wanted to move the wedding up so he could better care for their small family by qualifying for military benefits before he went overseas. The mother changed her mind about getting married. Under those circumstances the mother asked the father to give up his parental rights by text message. Quickly thereafter Baby Girl was given up for adoption to a non Indian couple. The adoption agency and mother may have conspired against the father. The adoption agency well knew there could be problems since the father was an American Indian and federal law extended certain rights to Baby Girl because of her heritage. The Cherokee Tribe could not confirm Baby Girls heritage because the adoption agency or their attorney provided erroneous information, apparently intentionally, like using a wrong first name. The adoption took place before the father was notified of the adoption. The father was served adoption papers a few days before he was scheduled to leave for duty overseas. And, once he knew of the adoption he did everything possible to establish his paternity and gain custody of Baby Girl. If he were out of the picture it was only because of his military assignment but not because he was disinterested in Baby Girl.
Aside from painting a bad picture of the father and the law, the NY Times op-ed, by omitting the facts immediately above created the impression that an innocent mother was abandoned by the deadbeat father of their baby girl; and, then the mother and baby were abused by the law. Horseshit.
Among other unanswered questions, we don’t know whether the mother gained financially from adopting out Baby Girl. We don’t know how much public and private money the adoption agency was paid. We don’t know if any of the players in this bad drama were held accountable for their illegal acts against the father, Baby Girl, and the Tribe. It appears the NY Times doesn’t give a damn.
Here’s the kicker. Quote the NY Times, “The adoptive parents raised the girl from her birth until she was 27 months old. After the biological father challenged the adoption, a South Carolina family court ordered them to transfer custody to him.” Dad must be some kind of monster to do such a thing.
Except, the NY Times failed to mention that Baby Girl was only four months old when Baby Girl’s father finally received the misdirected notice of her adoption. He immediately asserted his parentage and began the process to regain Baby Girl. It’s not as if he waited 27 months to assert his parentage as the NY Times would have you believe.
The NY Times also failed to mention that a text message is not a legal basis for giving up one’s parental rights, which the adoption agency surely knew as well.
So, who is the monster here, aside from the NY Times? Might it be the adoption agency that surely stood to gain thousands of dollars from the adoption? How is it that the adoptive parents, knowing the potential legal issues– knowing the father wanted Baby Girl, didn’t do the right thing and hand her over to her Dad? Could the couple not have adopted another baby?
How is it that the adoption agency, their attorney(s), and the adoptive parents were so eager to deny the Tribe their extended family rights given by the Indian Child Welfare Act, if not other legislation?
Is it possible that the well meaning adoptive parents provided additional incentive money to those involved in this mean-spirited charade? This orchestrated deception to deny a father his parental rights; a member of our military no less. A young man headed for a war zone. A man sworn to protect the very rights of those plotting to deny him his and steal his Baby Girl through devious means and illegal acts.
As far as I can see the evidence shows that only person above truly interested in the best interests of Baby Girl is her father, his Indian culture and the Cherokee Tribe. Certainly not the NY Times Editorial Board which, as usual, came to the rescue of a media anointed helpless women being browbeaten by a man and his patriarchal system. Double horseshit stunk deep in political pandering.
In cases like this one, it makes little sense to allow a biological mother who is willing to give her baby up for adoption to deny a willing and responsible bio-dad the right to father their child. Lower courts were correct in giving back to Baby Girl her biological father. The adoptive parents appealed to the United States Supreme Court which heard the case this Tuesday. Hopefully that court will affirm.
- Justices Take Case on Adoption of Indian Child (January 5, 2013)
- For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.
- Man’s Native American roots offer exemption in adoption laws and let him take back daughter from adoptive family