Posts Tagged ‘unplanned pregnancy’

Review: “Odyssey of an Unknown Father” by David Archuletta

February 4, 2009

Don’t be taken in by the tease on the back cover: “This book will teach you [prospective adoptive parent] what to look for to spot fraud or unethical maneuvers in the adoption process and to avoid this terrible scenario when you welcome a child into your home.” Sadly, it doesn’t follow through on that promise.
What it is: This is David Archuletta’s personal story as an alleged father whose former partner committed perjury by signing an Unknown Father Affidavit [in New Jersey] in spite of his having been somewhat involved in the pregnancy until she left her Colorado home to do an adoption — but the reader has to make it through a third of the book to learn that. Convoluted sentences, mis-matched syntax, sarcastic comments that don’t relate to the material — it’s difficult to find the meat.
Mr. Archuletta has two important messages to deliver: don’t assume that adoption is the best solution to every unwed pregnancy, and the baby’s father has important information to share, including (in his case) potentially dire medical history. Mr. Archuletta should not have been left out of this important decision for his child. Whether his involvement might have meant a different outcome or not, his rights were discounted.
Mr. Archuletta’s story should be a reminder to adoption agency workers and adoption attorneys why a best services practitioner should refuse to do an adoption when a pregnant client refuses to identify the father. To do less is to risk loss of licensure.
HOWEVER, this is one of those books that takes one situation and generalizes it to all adoptions. It well may be that Mr. Archuletta’s real intent was to scare prospective adoptive couples away from adoption all together. If that’s the goal, he may have succeeded, but not in the way he planned.
You know that saying in legal circles that “The person who serves as his own attorney has a fool for a client”? Well, meet the book publishing version: “The self-publishing author who acts as his own editor shows himself as a fool.” By the tedious end of this book, the author comes off as a wigged-out psychopath on a rant against his own personal injustice. Where I once had a modicum of sympathy for his cause, he’s done his cause a disservice by going on and on and on and on. David, get an editor!
Beth Kozan, Phoenix

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While Writing a Blog for Birth Parents . . .

November 21, 2008

. .

I learned this:   Not to announce what I will write on next!  I DID intend to write about Dear Birthmother, Kathleen Silber’s and Phyllis Speedin’s book that brought Open Adoption awareness to the field of adoption, but — although I have had many copies over the years that I’ve loaned out & given away — I couldn’t immediately put my hands on a copy.  I thought I should at least have it on hand to refer to.  So, that will come on another day, either when the library notifies me they have it “on hold” for me, or perhaps when I find my copy while looking for something else!

I’m having a grand time preparing my new book, a book for the families of birth parents, to help them understand some of the issues in adoption today, and how they can help their daughters and sons as they go through this unusual situation.  Because I am in the ‘gathering information stage’, I’m putting out a call to birth parents and to their friends and families, for feedback.  To Birth parents:  What helped you?  What would you have liked to hear from your friends and families?  What helps today, as Life goes on?  To families and friends:  What would have liked to know that it took awhile to learn or to realize?  What was scary when you first learned that your child / friend was planning an adotpion placement? 

For instance:  Over the years I’ve had mothers of birth mothers share privately that they are grieving the loss of their grandchild, but they were holding back because they didn’t want to influence the outcome.  I’ve also seen families withhold information from the older family members to protect everyone.  If you have first hand information in this routine, how has that worked out?  Is there an optimum time to tell others?  What are the factors that figure into this?

Who Is She?

October 14, 2008

I’ve been keeping statistics for the programs where I worked for thirty years.  Let me outline the statistics on birth mothers in these programs in Arizona.

Her age:  In those beginning days of my adoptions work, it was common for the woman who placed her baby to be as young as 15 or 16, but more frequently between 18 and 21.  The baby was usually her first born.  Today women who place their babies for adoption tend to be in their late 20s or in their 30s (confirmed by workers from other states whom I’ve spoken with at National conferences).  A few teens still make a placement plan as do a few women in their 40s, but more commonly she is a woman in her 20s or 30s who already had children, whether they were raising them or being raised within the birth family. 

Her marital status:  Though most are single, about 10% are married; about 2% are divorced.

Ethnicity:  When I started working as a pregnancy counselor in Tucson in 1979, my supervisor, who handled the adoption side of the agency, explained we needed Hispanic and Black families as prospective adoptive families because pregnancy clients who were Caucasian whose baby was bi-racial (the baby’s fathers were Hispanic or Black) would place, but pregnancy clients who were themselves Hispanic or Black did not place.  That was pretty much the case (with some exceptions) for the early 80s, but things changed, including the politically correct terminology.  These days the ethnicity of the birth mothers tend to reflect the makeup of the community.  In Phoenix that has meant that the birth mothers for the last few years have been about 55% Caucasian, 40% Hispanic, 2% African American and 3% Native American.  In our State we seldom see Asian birth mothers, unless they were themselves adopted.

Reasons for adoption:  In fact, familiarity with adoption is one of the reasons cited by women who carry through their adoption plan.  If she is adopted, or if she has an adopted sibling or if one of her parents or grandparents is adopted, she has seen first hand the benefits for a child, and she may consider adoption even if her peers do not. 

In recent years as high as 17% of the placements have been from drop-in birth mothers.  It is preferable, from the agency standpoint, for a pregnancy client to come to the agency by the sixth month of her pregnancy. 

Birth Fathers:  Having a few months before delivery gives the pregnancy counselor time to work with her client to contact the father of the baby, for in almost every state, it is necessary for him to be made aware of his rights.  It’s sad but true that adoption is the only one of her options where a pregnant woman must notify the father of the baby about the pregnancy and her decision.  She can terminate the pregnancy without his knowledge; she can even parent the child without telling him of the pregnancy — but if adoption is the plan, he must be notified and given an opportunity to participate in the plan for the child’s future.  In Arizona, he has thirty days after the notification in which to step forward and file a petition for paternity if he wants to halt an adoption plan for his child. 

Moms don’t always like to hear this.  They may say, “He left me!  He doesn’t deserve to be involved in this child’s life!”  The goal of the pregnancy counselor is to gently shift the focus to the child.  Making the adoption plan safe by having his rights dealt with prior to the delivery is much preferred to waiting for his notification to take place after the baby is born.  Under Arizona law, if she doesn’t know how to find him, the agency must show the Court they made ‘due diligence’ to find him, which may mean hiring a private detective to locate him.  If he cannot be found, then publication of the notice — which has her name and address in it — must appear in a newspaper. 

Seeing the adoption from the child’s side also helps her understand the benefits to the child of the father’s involvement, even if it is minimal.  The child will grow up with medical histories from both sides of his family, as well as a social history.  One adoptive mom wrote a letter to the previously uninvolved birth father requesting information.  She wrote, “We’d like to know if we have the potential for a budding musician or a little Jay Leno that we can help to develop to his potential.” 

I’ll expand on the role of the birth father in subsequent posts.  The next post, however, will review Dear Birthmother by Kathleen Silber and Phyllis Speedlin.  This classic, first published in 1982, introduced the idea of open adoption.

(If I failed to adequately explain something, or used terminology that is unfamiliar, please write a comment, and I’ll address those issues.)

Beth Kozan, Phoenix, AZ