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Author Topic: What to do about daddy...  (Read 1036 times)


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What to do about daddy...
« on: Jan 06, 2005, 09:50:53 AM »

What to Do About Daddy?

January 6, 2005

by Wendy McElroy
By court order, 3-year-old Evan Parker Scott of Jacksonville, Fla., is
being separated from his adoptive parents and returned to the biological
mother who surrendered him at birth.

Why? Because something was missing from the adoption process: the father's

In 2005, family courts will confront a question head-on: "What to do about
Daddy?" In the case of Evan, the question is, "what to do about the "birth
father"? ? a term that properly denotes the biological and often unmarried
father of an adopted child.

The media has discussed Evan's case as a tragedy caused by the court
validating "father's rights" at the expense of a child's welfare. Whether
the rights of Evan's biological father were in fact violated remains a
point of debate in this specific case, but overall, a good argument can be
made for the opposite view: By ignoring the father's rights at the outset
of an adoption proceeding, courts set the stage for this kind of needless

When custody is contested, the child's welfare should be foremost.
Accordingly, commentary has centered on Evan. The children's advocacy site
Hear My Voice offers poignant coverage of the transfer to his birth
mother. In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby writes, "Only a legal system that
believes ties of blood are the truest expression of parenthood could order
a boy stripped of the parents who have raised and cherished him from

Jacoby misses some salient points.

One: Evan's situation did not arise because his father suddenly appeared
after three years. Five months after Evan's birth he filed papers with the
court and has mounted a continuous legal battle.

The tragedy occurred, at least in part, because the court transferred
Evan's guardianship (with a presumption of adoption) to the Scotts before
the father's claim had been resolved. In doing so, I believe the court
acted inappropriately, and with tragic consequences.

Two: the court acted inappropriately because, when both parents are known,
they are both responsible for the child's welfare and they possess an
equal claim to parenting. If parental responsibility is to be legally
binding ? e.g. for child support ? so, too, is the parental claim. Before
an unwed woman can put a child up for adoption, the father should be given
the opportunity to raise his child.

Four: saying that a child's welfare should be foremost does not negate the
rights of the two parents. The appropriate action is one that preserves
the rights of all involved through negotiation if at all possible. Only if
a parent is a clear threat to the child should his or her rights be
summarily abrogated.

Good Morning America compared Evan's case to "'Baby Richard'...a (1995)
court battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court." In that
case, a 4-year-old was taken from adoptive parents and given to his birth

However, the cause of birth fathers' rights might not fare well if 'Baby
Evan' becomes a test case. Evan's biological father was convicted of and
served a jail term for assaulting and hospitalizing his birth mother while
she was pregnant. This, unfortunately, lends credibility to the image, in
these types of adoption cases, of the "birth fathers" as uncaring,
unstable and unfit for parenthood.

Moreover, it is a widely accepted belief that in cases where there is a
history of domestic violence, fathers bid for custody as a way of
harassing the mother.

These are two common objections to birth fathers' involvement in adoption:
they are uncaring or unfit parents; and, they will use the courts to
harass mothers. Without question, a number of birth fathers richly deserve
such criticism. But it is improper to deny rights to an entire category of
people because individuals within that category behave badly.

The birth father I met at a conference of the National Coalition of Free
Men may very well be as "typical" as Evan's. He and his mother had driven
across several states to attend the meeting in the hope of making contacts
to help his case. A serious young man of about 20-years-old, he explained
that his girlfriend left town without telling him she was pregnant. She
put the child up for adoption after running the public notice to the birth
father, which is legally required; the notice was an ad in the back of an
out-of-town paper to which he did not subscribe.

By the time he discovered his fatherhood, the window for claiming parental
rights had expired. Now, he and his family were desperately seeking a way
to gain custody and raise the child themselves.

How can courts help to prevent heart-wrenching father-child reunions, like
the one Evan is now experiencing?

They should acknowledge at the very beginning of an adoption proceeding
that both responsible parents have an equal voice. Each parent must be
presumed responsible until shown otherwise. And no adoption placement
should occur if either parent wants custody.

Moreover, the notification process should meet a high standard of diligent
effort before parental rights can be suspended.

Evan is now in the custody of his mother who filed specifically to block
the father's claim; the latter has been granted liberal, but supervised,

The court's misconduct, of course, extends beyond whatever original
slighting of father's rights it may have allowed to occur. To correct that
"error" humanely, the court and adults involved might have arranged
liberal visitation for the father with Evan's adoptive parents. But the
mother's filing precluded that very possibility.

The saddest irony is also the worst indictment of the family court system.
Evan was desperately wanted by the Scotts, and his father also very much
wants him. The only person who didn't want him is the one who now has
custody: the mother.

I retract my former statement: perhaps this would make a good test case.

Wendy McElroy

Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com. She is the author and
editor of many books and articles, including her new anthology Liberty for
Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent
Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada. Other articles by
Wendy McElroy can be found in the MensNewsDaily.com archive.


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New truths about real men [USA - Boston Globe]
« Reply #1 on: Jan 06, 2005, 10:18:48 AM »
SOURCE: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/01/01/new_truths_about_real_men/

New truths about real men

By Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers  |  January 1, 2005

THE NEWS about men in the year just past was dismal. A high-profile court case saw a husband (Scott Peterson) convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. CEOs at Enron and Worldcom stand accused of defrauding employees and investors. NBA players waded into a crowd, fists flying. Then, to put the icing on this poisonous cake, the Department of Labor reported that the working woman spends twice as much time, on average, as the working man on household chores and care of children.

It gets worse. At home men are seen as lazy slugs and at work are viewed as old-fashioned, kick-butt bosses. In school, boys' verbal abilities lag far behind those of girls. As parents, males are thought to lack parenting abilities. Expanding paternity leave is pointless, since males are programmed to have little emotional attachment to their kids.

Males lack empathy with others. If a friend approaches them to talk about problems, they change the subject or make a joke. In relationships they don't have a clue. They are faithless wretches "hard-wired" by their genes to be promiscuous.

Is this picture accurate? Happily, new research shows that it is not. Indeed, real men manage to escape the stereotypes much of the time. For example:

* The lazy slug label is unfair. In fact, in dual-earner couples -- the dominant family form in the United States -- men's housework chores and child care have increased steadily since 1977, says the 2003 National Study of the Changing Workforce. The "gender gap" in hours declined by more than 70 percent, from 2.4 hours per day in 1977 to one hour a day in 2002.

Men are also doing more child care. Between 1977 and 2003, employed fathers in dual-earner couples narrowed the gap by 57 percent.

* Are men really "command-and-control" types in management style? The most effective manager, it's now believed, is "transformational," one who gains the trust of followers and empowers them to reach their full potential. Psychologist Alice Eagly of Northwestern University found that women managers were indeed more "transformational" than men. But the difference was very small: 52.5 percent of females and 47.5 percent of males.

* Do boys lack the "natural" verbal skills of girls? An analysis by psychologists Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin and Marcia Linn of University of California at Berkeley found the difference between boys and girls was trivial. Boys overall don't suffer from an inability to speak and write.

* Do men lack a natural ability to parent young children the way women do? No. And when men are the primary caretakers of young children, they "mother" in the same way women do, reports North Carolina State sociologist Barbara Risman. And for the first time, fathers now spend more time with their kids than on their own pursuits and pleasures, reported the US National Study of the Changing Workplace in 2002.

* Do men duck and run when others approach them with problems? In fact, a 2004 study of "troubles talk" finds that both men and women largely provide support by giving advice and expressing sympathy.

* Are men impelled by their genes to be natural rovers? Psychologists Kay Bussey of Macquarie University and Albert Bandura of Stanford found that most males mate monogamously. "If prolific, uncommitted sexuality is a male biological imperative," the researchers write, "it must be a fairly infirm one that can be easily overridden by psychosocial forces."

In terms of fidelity, men and women are quite similar. In 2002, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports, 15 percent of women said they cheated, while the number for men was 22 percent.

It's time to jettison the idea that males are clueless oafs who come from the planet Mars. Men, like women, are perfectly able to be people-oriented leaders, caring parents, good listeners, and true friends in time of need.

Rosalind C. Barnett is director of the Community, Families and Work program at Brandeis University. Caryl Rivers is a professor of journalism at Boston University. They are the authors of "Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


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