This page is broken up into shorter sections, for easier reading.
This story starts before Hannah was born. Actually it starts when I was born! I was born on May 23, 1986, in Boston, Massachusetts. My parents were in their 40s when I was born. They had gotten married at 18 (her) and 21 (him) and had four kids in quick succession. By the time I was born my brother and three sisters were in their 20s. Because of my parents' age, things didn't go too well for me right from the start. My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was three years old. She died when I was five years old. My father, who was 52 by then, had heart problems. He had his first heart attack the same year that my mother died, and his second (fatal) when I was eight years old. Well, I didn't have any grandparents (they all died before I was even born) so I went to live with my aunt at that point. She was already a single mom at that point, she had a daughter slightly older than me and a grown-up son. I lived with my aunt until nearly the time that I had my daughter.
So now we've jumped ahead to the pregnancy. I was 14 when I started dating my girlfriend, she was my first girlfriend ever, and we thought it was love forever and ever. In January of 2002 she told me she was pregnant. She was already really far into the pregnancy, she was three months pregnant. The conception took place in early or mid November of 2001. The reason she waited that long is she thought she was getting an abortion, but then she couldn't go through with it. Apparently, had she had the abortion she wasn't going to tell me at all! Anyway, she was 16 at that point and she decided that she was too young to be bothered with a baby. Plus her parents were really horrified by the whole thing and did not want her to be a mother at her age. So the adoption of my daughter (except that we didn't know it was a girl at that time) was planned from then on.
I went along with all of this because basically I didn't see any alternatives. If my ex-girlfriend wasn't keeping the baby, I thought that I had to agree with that. I don't know why I thought that. I guess I didn't really know the law. I didn't know that it was my choice too, not just hers.
I changed my mind about it like this. My sister and her husband found out about the baby and they wanted to be the ones to adopt her. Since they were family, and since as the baby's father I had some say about who would adopt my daughter, they decided to try to adopt her since it would be an easier adoption than trying to adopt from an adoption agency or out of foster care. So, while going through the process of making the legal decisions that are involved in an adoption, I was finally given some counseling about it, and finally told what the laws are and that it is not just up to my ex-girlfriend to decide whether the baby would be placed up for adoption.
So that's why in late May I started the process of trying to claim my baby so that I could raise her myself.
I'm not going to go into the legal process too much here. First of all, it's different in different states. Secondly, it's very confusing and I'm not sure that I can remember all the technical things correctly. Basically, the first step was to find a lawyer willing to fight a case like this, and also a guardian for me because I could not represent myself in court. My aunt refused to help me at all, she thought I was insane or something, and besides she didn't want to have any responsibility for another baby. That's basically what a guardian is, it's someone who would not only represent me, but also agree to be responsible for my baby until I was no longer a minor. Since I had no job and was still in school, the guardian would also have to pay for everything. The next problem was finding the money to fight the adoption. Between the baby's medical bills and the lawyer's bills and the court fees, I spent about $30,000 to get my baby. Obviously I didn't have that kind of money, being 16. I did have a fund that my parents had left, but I couldn't get any money out of it until I was 21! Luckily there was another fund which was for my aunt to raise me and also for me to go to college. There was only about $8,000 left in it because I guess my aunt had spent it all on herself (she certainly hadn't spent it on me!), I'm not sure how much there had been to begin with. So anyway, my brother agreed to be the guardian and luckily being a dentist and not having a family to spend money on, he did have the money to spend on this. Because he lived in another state I moved in with one of my sisters until all of this was resolved and I could take my baby and go live with him.
My daughter was born on July 5, 2002. After she was born we got a paternity test to make sure that she was really mine, and also because the courts required it. Then we went to court to fight the adoption for real. We had been to court before that, but that was only to establish the fact that I was against having my baby adopted, and that it was my intention to raise my baby myself. The real decision couldn't be made until the baby had already been born.
I was really lucky in court. I wish I could say it's because the system is fair, but it's really because we had the money to throw at lawyers.
My daughter spent some time in the hospital because she was very small when she was born, not premature but small. She was still in the hospital when I got temporary custody which is what the courts give you before they actually make a decision for sure. There was still the possibility that my ex-girlfriend could decide to raise her herself. There was also still the possibility that the court would decide that I couldn't or shouldn't raise the baby.
My daughter came home from the hospital at 12 days old, and I still only had temporary custody. I went to court again when she was a month and a half old and that's when I finally got real custody. My ex-girlfriend signed a waiver to the 6-month period during which she could change her mind and try to get custody of my daughter. What that is, if you don't know, is a period of time (which is different in different states) during which a parent who gave up his or her child can change their mind and try to get the child back. It doesn't mean that the courts would allow them to get the child back though. In most places you can sign a waiver which means you will not have this period of time to change your mind, and your parental rights are terminated immediately rather than after the period of time runs out.
I named my daughter Hannah Jasmine. After nobody in particular, just two names I found in a baby names book.
As I'm writing this, my daughter is about to turn 4 months old on the 5th. She weighs 12 pounds now so she is making good progress even though she was born small. She is still smaller than she should be but she is growing rapidly.
We live with my brother and have a cat named Blink and a dog named Bruno.
I'm finishing high school on independent study, which I started in June of 2002. I will graduate much quicker than if I stayed in comprehensive school. I was between 10th and 11th grade in June, but now I will finish high school somewhere between May and August of 2003, which is basically a whole year early! Right now I go to see my instructor twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, for up to 2 hours each time.
So that's the whole story from start to finish. I'm also going to put some answers here to questions that people commonly ask me. Because I'm tired of answering the same ones over and over. For some reason they all have to do with my ex-girlfriend.
I don't know why, but I get the questions why did your ex choose adoption and why didn't she want to raise the baby, a lot. Those are stupid questions, people! My ex chose adoption because she didn't want to be a mother. She didn't want to be a mother because she was 16 years old and didn't want to "ruin" her life with a baby, which is what she and her parents thought would happen if she kept the baby. Another really dumb question that I get all the time is how could she do that, I could never give up my baby. Neither could I. But that is completely irrelevant. Thousands of mothers choose to place their babies up for adoption every year. It is a common thing to do. Some women simply can. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing adoption for your baby. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mother, in fact in some cases it makes you a good person and a good mother. No one should ever keep a baby that they do not want! The same way, no one should ever be forced to give up a baby that they do want and are capable of taking care of, which is my answer to the question why did you decide to raise the baby. As for isn't that a weird thing for a guy to do, sorry to burst your bubble but fathers choose all the time to raise their children, with or without a mother. Fathers don't need a mother to raise their baby for them or to "help" them. Taking care of a baby is a natural thing for any human being to learn to do, it is not something that females can do and males cannot. The simple reasons why there aren't more single dads is that not enough mothers give up their babies and it's difficult for a dad to get custody even if they do. In the case of divorced dads, again, it's difficult to get custody, and you have to prove a mother unfit first. Mothers are still favored by the courts. If things were equal, there would be many, many more single fathers, because there would no longer be any reason why a dad wouldn't have his children living with him at least part of the time. The next set of questions deal with my ex's current situation. Such as what is she doing now, does she ever contact you, does she ever see the baby, do you think you'll get back together, what if she decides to get custody back, and so on and so forth. So lets set the record straight. First, I have no clue what she is doing. She lives in Massachusetts, and I have been living in California ever since I got custody of my daughter, since this is where my brother lives and my daughter and I live with him like I already said. No, I have not heard from her since our time in court. No, she has not seen Hannah since the hospital. No, I would never consider getting back together with her, I don't love her and don't want to have anything to do with her. She cannot get custody or visitations of Hannah, not ever. Her parental rights have been terminated. That is permanent. She cannot get them back. Legally, she does not have the right to contact Hannah until Hannah is no longer a minor. Realistically, if when Hannah is old enough to make that decision (in her mid to late teens) she wants to contact her mother, I will support her decision. Until that time my ex will not have any part of our lives. Why wouldn't you allow your ex to see Hannah if she wanted to is a difficult question to answer and has to do with the law. The law states that anyone who has a relationship with a child can get visitations or custody of that child. That means grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, even a guy's girlfriend. Suppose I was dating a girl and she lived with Hannah and I. Technically, after we broke up she could file for visitations or even custody and claim that she had a parental relationship with Hannah. It doesn't mean that the courts would grant her request, but the courts favor females so a guy can't think for a second that the courts will not do something that awful. So although Hannah's mother does not have parental rights and cannot get custody or visitations, that can change if she is allowed to have a part in raising Hannah. She can then claim that although her parental rights were terminated, her relationship with Hannah did not end, and that she still acted as a mother. This can lead to her attempting to regain her parental rights. There are only a few cases in which this has ever happened in the USA, but it can happen, and I would never take the chance of it happening to me. She made her decision and it is not reversible. Do you know that most mothers regret giving up their babies and suffer terribly is another question that I don't really understand. First of all, the assumption that ALL mothers regret it is wrong. Adoption has been around for thousands of years, and if this was really true it wouldn't be so popular. It is true that there are many anti-adoption websites out there that are run by bitter, angry, or unhappy women who regret their decisions and try to persuade others not to do the same thing. There are also many websites out there by mothers who describe positive relationships with the children they gave up and their children's adoptive parents, and who do not express regret over their decision. As for any suffering that my ex might be experiencing, that is certainly not my problem. Even if I had not decided to raise Hannah, my ex would still have given her up. So I am not responsible for her decision or any consequences that she might experience as a result. The fact that Hannah is with me and not with an adoptive family does not make any difference in what my ex can expect. There is no special treatment for her just because I'm the one raising Hannah.
That's all for now!