I see a mother and father as equal…

10 Jul

I’d read this story about Christopher Emanuel fighting for the right to parent his child who’d been placed for adoption by the baby’s mother.  The twist to his story is that he’d actually won the right to parent his child, unlike so many other fathers who lost when adoption was on the table.  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I think it’s wrong for willing fathers to be shut out.  All things being equal, both the mother and the father should have the right to consent or contest the adoption of their child.  Ethics matter, especially in adoption.


Today, I’m reading this article in Slate about the Christopher Emanuel case, and was nodding to myself while she was describing what happened to Mr. Emanuel.  I stopped nodding when she made this statement:

“It’s not entirely unreasonable to give women this right, despite the awfulness of Emanuel’s dilemma. A major concern is that a man can impregnate a woman and then just disappear, making it impossible for the woman to give the baby up for adoption without the man’s say-so.”

I disagree for many reasons which I will try to explain below…

Being equal means just that, equal.  It’s one thing to claim autonomy to make pregnancy decisions because it’s your body.  But after the baby is born, she isn’t making decisions about her body, she’s making decisions about a child who has both a mother and father present.  If someone wants to adopt their baby, then both parents need to be asked if they consent.  No consent, no adoption.

That statement above painted a picture that tells me it’s okay to lie because: “a man can impregnate a woman and then just disappear, making it impossible for the woman to give the baby up for adoption without the man’s say-so” which tries to justify a women deliberately cutting the willing father out of his child’s life.  You can’t have something both ways – either he “just disappeared” or he didn’t, rather he stood up and said I want to parent my child.  There are no fuzzy lines here.  That statement also indicates a certain societal acceptance that it’s okay if she lies about the relationship to make the father a non-father without his consent, because she chose adoption.

As to the last part of that statement “making it impossible for the woman to give the baby up for adoption without the man’s say-so.”  A woman can choose adoption for her child if the father disappears and/or is unknown.  Two different avenues are provided under law that make that statement factually incorrect:

One is called Safe Haven.  This choice doesn’t allow her any say to choose the parents, be seen as that brave selfless mother who broke her heart giving her child a better life, or being able stay in her child’s life, or know the fate of the baby.  It is a choice she can make under the law.

The other option is the regular adoption route.  All 50 states have laws with clear processes to terminate the rights of an unknown father, or a known father who can’t be located, when the mother chooses adoption.  The law spells out the process that state has determined as the correct route in minute detail.  The problem, it might take a few months to advertise, a few more dollars, and apparently that’s not acceptable in this want it now (yesterday would be better) society.  It seems to me that today’s society is comfortable with what is taking place to fathers, making them  fight for months to contest the adoption of his child.  Months where someone else is bonding with his baby, being the one’s to see all of his baby’s firsts, plus the father is spending thousands of dollars that should be being spent raising his child.

As to abusive partners that she speaks too later on, yes, I’m sure the abusive expectant father may try to give the mother monetary support as a way to stay in the picture.  The expectant mother doesn’t have to accept the money, and yes, it might come down to the courts to determine the fitness of the father, and what rights he has preserved, but I don’t believe the law automatically grants him those rights unless he is either married to the mother, or has adjudicated paternity (feel free to correct me).  None of that should sanction trying to cut a willing father out of his child’s life when there is no abuse, and the conception of their child happened during consensual sex.

That’s what happens when you make choices in life…

Final note to her last statement about defining what the definition of an involved father is – each state has already determined what is required to be considered an involved father in preserving his right to consent or contest an adoption, just look up the adoption laws for a particular state…

I welcome disagreements in the comments if I’m missing something here, it just didn’t sit right with me – so I’m talking about it…what say you?


Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , ,

8 responses to “I see a mother and father as equal…

  1. anenomekym

    July 10, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    You expressed my thoughts on her article/this case much better and more thoroughly than I could have. Thanks.


    • TAO

      July 11, 2015 at 12:52 am

      Thanks! Glad it made sense – wasn’t sure.


  2. Robyn C

    July 12, 2015 at 12:15 am

    OK… so… I don’t see mother and father as total equals. When it comes to child bearing and child raising, women carry most of the weight. Therefore, I think they need to have a little bit more of the right to decide what happens to their children. It happens that fathers will not sign TPR, not because they have any desire to parent, but because they don’t want to give up their “blood,” because they want to control the child’s mother, or simply out of spite. Due to the hodge-podge of adoption laws in the US, some states make that easier to do than others. In the state of Missouri, if a man is abusive to his baby’s mother, that isn’t grounds for him to lose custody of the baby. He has to abuse the baby first. Not kidding. And also, not acceptable. I wrote my own blog post about fathers’ rights, and basically it comes down to 60%/40% mom/dad. This is what I wrote:

    In cases like Emanuel’s, I would absolutely support his right to parent his child. He clearly supported the (birth) mother and has the means to parent his child well.


    • TAO

      July 12, 2015 at 12:16 am

      I don’t disagree with your points but it is not for the mother or the agency to make that decision – that’s for the court….


    • TAO

      July 12, 2015 at 12:21 am

      What did you think of the quote I pulled from the article?


  3. yan

    July 12, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    I think rights stay with the mother until a child is actually born, and I do harbor some fear that trying to clarify these laws might complicate the already idiotic conversations on birth control. But you’re absolutely right that a biological parent should never be shunned in favor of adoptive parents without someone — and likely it would have to be the courts — overseeing that. The putative father registries are an awful idea.

    So many of the stories about infant adoption today point out the gross abuses of a system that is about entitled needy adults who want to be parents at any cost.


  4. onewomanschoice

    July 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    To be fair and honest, I have not read the article but I agree with your point about both parents having a say, as you put it “after the child is born.” That makes perfect sense. I think a contributing male of consensual sex should be notified from the start to help with any decision, but ultimately rest with the women pre-birth. I would like to add my thoughts on abusive partners. A man who is abusive to his partner (spouse, etc) is not always abusive to this children. My father was a prime example. He treated me like the apple of his eye. He never laid a hand on me. And I could mouth off without fear. This is not always the case of every abusive person. And I understand there is more involved than just not abusing your kids. Kids should not have to experience any abusive situation among their parents either. But I just wanted to clarify that.


  5. beth62

    July 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I think the equality between mother and father is individual.
    If I could paint it with a broad brush well, I would, but I can’t, but if I could –
    I do not think it is 50/50 equal.

    I do believe a mother typically needs more protection than a father, even in this day and time, due to the possible power and the vulnerability factors involved. Plus motherhood is simply not equal to fatherhood, it’s different.

    As far as equal rights to raise the child separately?
    my broad brush opinion – Maybe
    my individuals opinion- Maybe.

    My mother did not want to marry my father (can’t blame her, glad she didn’t)
    She called him at the air force base to tell him she was pregnant after their one and only drunken date.
    He was not nice, she said he said horrible things to her (which I am sure he did, as most 20 yr old men in that position may) They both told me he said he would do what he needed to do and to let him know what he needed to do.
    My mother did not want to marry him. She knew his mother and father would take me in and raise me (her parents would not) My paternal grandparents had raised 13 kids and had several grandchildren living in their home. My grandfather worked in the coal mines. My cousins, mostly, were/are just fine, I would have been just fine.
    My mother would not have been just fine.

    The part that is the problem in this story to me is the LIE, not the equalness.
    My mother was encouraged by the social worker, doctor, preacher and her parents to tell him she had miscarried, and she did.
    Any equality or rights he may have had were taken with a lie.

    He was not told I was going to be placed for adoption, he was never told I existed, until I told him myself 40 years later. He was named in my adoption records, but not on my BC – the LIE in print.

    I think it’s not so much the equality at play in this story as much as it is the LIE, which is the thief of any equality, any rights.

    If lies or omissions are involved, there is no chance of equality or rights, and I do believe that is so very wrong.
    I do not believe that the mother, or anyone else has the right to lie.
    The father has the absolute right and equality to know a child exists.

    After that I think it becomes individual parental rights more so than equal parental rights, due to power and vulnerability. That is when the judge steps in.



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