Thursday, February 4, 2010

But the breakdown of the family is men's fault right?

Let's suspend reality for a bit. Let's imagine that the image of deadbeat dad was true about all men that are not in their children's lives. Wears fancy suits, drives multiple cars, spends half his time on vacation, makes more money in 15 minutes than you or (actually I'll raise that to "AND") I make in 15 years. He goes to work, comes home, and has great sex with this new wife while the ex-wife and kids barely make ends meet. Yes there are times when that happens but lets turn reality back on and show one reason why it doesn't happen as often as some want us to think.

Robert Franklin brings up a terrible and sad story in which a seemingly ready, willing, and able father was removed from his child's life by a mother that simply didn't want him there.

When Cody O'Dea's girlfriend Ashley of Wyoming said she was pregnant he stated that he wanted to keep and raise the child. Sometime afterwards the couple split and the baby was thought to have been miscarried. Ashely moved away but word got back to Cody that she was 8 months pregnant, putting the pregnancy back in the time frame that he was with her.

Upon hearing this he filed the appropriate forms with the putative father registries of Wyoming and Montana (that state where Ashely was working with an adoption agency). The adoption agency contacted him asking for his consent for the adoption Ashely was trying to put the child up for. Cody stood his ground and said he would raise the child even if she didn't want to. He thought it was all said and done until he got a call from her that according to him went like this:
Ashley: You will listen and you will not speak. First of all I want you to stop harassing me and that includes your mother. I am in Utah. You will not father this child. You will pay child support until the child is in College. You will never see this baby. Do you understand?

Cody: No, I do not understand, does this mean you are planning to keep the child?

Ashley: Do you understand what I’m saying?

Cody: No, I don’t understand, does that mean you are keeping the child and not giving it up for adoption?

Ashley: If you understand what I have told you, that is all I have to say.
Now notice that that call mentions nothing of adoption. But the trick is in the state of Utah (where she called from) that phone call counts as giving him notice of the adoption she put the child up for. And with that simple phone call Cody's parental rights were terminated and the Supreme Court of Utah ruled it so. Well the Utah House of Representatives has passed a bill essentially greenlighting the Supreme Court's ruling.

So what all does this bill mean you ask? The biological father of a child is entitled to be notified of his child being put up for adoption he must assert his rights of a father or else his rights are terminated. Oh about that notice?

When a mother in Utah is about to put up a child for adoption she has to put out a notice to give the father a chance to contest the adoption. Well that notice can possibly be as simple as an ad in some Utah newspaper. What if the man in question doesn't live in Utah? Doesn't matter he still only has 5 days to make contact and assert his rights. (Oh but if he's in Utah he has 30.) And best part of all is that the mother doesn't even have to give her name when giving notice. So yes it would be possible for a woman to get pregnant in New York, whisk off to Utah without telling the father, put an ad in a Utah new paper for 5 days and if he does not respond he automatically loses his paternal rights. Hell if she is in Utah she can just run off to another county put an ad in a Utah paper without giving her name for 30 days and and if he does not respond he automatically loses his paternal rights.

As Robert points out:
And while we're on constitutional principles, this law, like so many others dealing with fathers in adoption cases, makes no pretense of treating men and women equally. In the single parent situation, both decided to have sex outside of marriage, both apparently did so without some form of contraception, but only one gets to decide her own parental rights and duties. Indeed, the mother can decide her own rights and those of the father as well.
In what reality is it fair that one person has control of not just their own parental rights but those of the other parent as well.

When it comes to parenting men have been on the short end of the stick for a long time and even worse that the effect on the father this type of treatment leaves children vulnerable to a life without ever knowing that there is a father out there that was ready, willing, able, and fit to give them a loving home. And this is magnified considering how often children are put into abusive homes.

So the next time you come across someone spouting off about how the courts give men the favor when it comes to parenting you point them to stuff like this.