When we got the paperwork that Laine had filled out for Lil Snee at AdoptLink, the baby-to-be’s father was listed as “Unknown.” When I talked to Laine on the phone before the baby was born, she said she didn’t know much about the guy. When Laine talked to the social worker, the social worker’s report stated that the father’s first name was “Harris”* and he was from “Townsville.” When we talked to and received paperwork from the lawyer, the father was unknown. I asked, at least twice, if Laine knew the guy’s first name and where he was from, shouldn’t we publish an ad like they do in Missouri? I was told it was “unnecessary.”
So, imagine my surprise when I got a text message in mid-November 2011 from Harris saying that he didn’t want to disturb the baby, he just wanted her to know that he loved her, and asking me to keep in touch. I immediately offered to send him updates, as I did to Laine, and he provided his email address. When I sent him the first pictures, I asked him to call me. When I sent him Cassie’s 1-month update, I asked him to call me. When I sent Cassie’s 2-month update, I asked him to call me.
Why didn’t I call him? A lot of reasons, but mainly this: What if Harris had a wife/girlfriend who didn’t know what was going on? And all of a sudden, some woman from California was calling him… I could see that being a problem. So I asked him to call, and told him what times were good.
I sent him a text message on Christmas, and got a Merry Christmas in reply. Sent a Happy New Year text message, and got a Happy New Year in reply. In mid-January, I got another text asking how the baby was doing, and would I text a recent photo? Sure thing. He finally called me at the end of January 2012 and we talked for quite some time.
Laine had signed a sworn statement that Cassie’s birth father was unknown. Obviously, he wasn’t. About the only things that Laine and Harris agree on are: 1) Harris knew she was pregnant, and 2) Harris didn’t support her during the pregnancy (though their reasons for that differ, too). Harris never registered with the Louisiana Putative Father Registry. More than three months had passed, and he didn’t want to “disturb” the baby. I asked him to talk to the social worker, so he would know his rights. He and the social worker made two appointments, neither of which he kept. (To be fair, he said he did keep the first one, but he showed up at the wrong place.)
In May, Harris was contacted by a curator, letting him know that he had 30 days to contest the adoption. Remember that “wife/girlfriend” I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? She found that letter. At this point, Harris didn’t want to contest the adoption, but his family wanted him to. His solution was to allow the 30 days to go by and have the court terminate his rights, rather than signing his own termination of parental rights.
Harris’s rights were terminated at the end of June 2012.
At any point between her birth and when his rights were terminated, Harris could have decided to contest the adoption. That wasn’t his plan, but he could have. If he could prove that Laine had knowingly lied, and he had been defrauded, then there was the possibility that Cassie would go to him. In this scenario, Laine would have gone to jail.
We had no idea that Harris had any interest in the baby at all. We believed Laine, the social worker, and the lawyer who all said he was unknown. I won’t speculate here, and I try not to speculate at all, about Laine’s or Harris’s motives or logic in any of this. What happened, happened. My feelings about it all are very mixed.
We had planned to see Harris when we were in Louisiana. To put it plainly, he stood us up. We had plans to meet at a certain time, he wasn’t there. I called and texted. I haven’t heard from him since we made the original plans.
My plan is to continue to send him updates and photos. He seems to be a nice guy.
* Harris is a pseudonym that I created for Cassie’s birthfather, just like Laine is a pseudonym for her birthmother.