In the spring of 1961, President Barack Obama‘s father of the same name talked to federal immigration officials who were concerned about the possibility he had more than one wife. He told them (incorrectly) that he’d divorced his first wife and that he and his new wife Ann Dunham, who was five months pregnant, would be placing their child up for adoption. He said they’d been working with the Salvation Army to give the baby away.
That baby, who grew up to be president, was never placed for adoption. It’s unclear whether the couple actually planned to put the baby up for adoption or whether he was making the story up to get the feds off his back as he requested an extension of his stay.
The news of this adoption plan was reported by Sally Jacobs at the Boston Globe. She found the memo detailing the plan in dozens of documents in Barack Obama‘s alien file following a Freedom of Information Act request.
The memo said officials should continue to monitor Obama’s personal life and that he’d been previously warned about his “playboy ways.”
The Globe reports that President Obama was never told about this adoption plan and was even unaware of the INS memo.
It’s fascinating to consider how the course of history might have changed if President Obama had been placed for adoption. Certainly other presidents, such as Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, grew up without their biological fathers. But they both had their biological mothers.
Many people frown on teen pregnancy and encourage girls and young women who get pregnant to have an abortion. Dunham was only 17 when she got pregnant and 18 when she gave birth. Still, she was older than my grandmother was when she had my dad. Sometimes we forget that teens are capable of raising children but Ann Dunham and my grandmother aren’t even that remarkable in history for having done just that.
Still, the frowns and stern looks that young women with children get — much more young women with mixed-race children — could have influenced her to seek adoption. But friends and family say that the opposite was true. The Globe reports:
”I never heard any talk of adoption whatsoever,’’ said Charles Payne, Dunham’s maternal uncle, who is now in his 80s and living in Chicago. ”Ann decided she had done this and this was her child and she was going to take care of him. From day one, as far as I could tell, she and Madelyn [Dunham] and Stanley [Dunham] were all completely committed to Barack.’’
The senior Obama, on the other hand, was causing problems with his various relationships with women and his failure to explain his complex marital statuses.
It’s interesting to think how President Obama’s life may have differed had he not had his particular upbringing.