When they're considered at all, it turns out fathers are little more than speed bumps to be driven over and ignored on the way to a smooth and uncontestable adoption.
That's more or less my takeaway from the NY Times' front page article on Sunday about unwed fathers who try--and almost always fail--to contest or stop the mother-instigated adoption of their biological children. There's plenty to get riled up about, and the cases the NYT cites are particularly infuriating. From top to bottom, almost the whole system--states, courts, adoption agencies, and the [usually estranged, obviously] mothers--is arrayed against the otherwise supposedly sacred and inherent rights of a parent vis a vis his child. And yet until this weekend, I'd never heard--or, I must admit, really thought about--this phenomenon. The inherent assumtion is that dads are either irresponsible or are potential threats to the mother, the child, or the adoption process.
Looking around, it seems that even online, very few people took note of the article (there are only around 15-20 mentions on blogs, for example). One of the key problems mentioned in the story is that what limited remedies men do have are egregiously underpublicized. I don't know the scope of the problem, but I don't have too many doubts about the clarity of the discrimination and the unequal treatment one parent is receiving at the hands of the system. The least I can do is mention it and hope that more light, cameras, and action go into this issue. [and yes, even on such a stern-faced topic, I could not resist a Wiggles reference. Whatryagonnado?]