Not Giving My Baby Up!

Have you ever heard that “If you don’t bond with your baby immediately after birth,” is a major reason that your baby was given up for adoption? Well, that was a statement to one of my nieces within one day of her giving birth to a handsome baby boy. Before my niece went to the hospital, she was with her mother.

After her hospital stay, she had opted to come live with me. She was my oldest niece and a favorite niece of mine. Over the years, I have been in her life in one way or the other. I would always treat her as if she was my daughter instead of my niece. We were very close to each other, just as we are today.

Getting back to when my niece was in the hospital with her newborn: I went to the hospital to visit my niece and her baby. My niece was holding her baby and nursing her baby. I washed my hands and put on a hospital gown. I was all ready and set to hold my niece’s baby.  For a newborn, he was a big baby and he had lots of hair. What a buster!

Then on the second day of my niece being in the hospital, I went to visit her and her baby. Now, this time the baby’s father was there also. All I knew is that my niece was a fifteen year old who just had a baby.  He said the baby was his; my niece said the baby was his. However, other family members told me differently, that he was not the baby’s father; that someone else was. However, I took him at his word; my niece said he was the father. I felt that surely she should know he was the father.

The third day that my niece was still in the hospital, I got a telephone call from her. She was crying and telling me the hospital  was telling her that she would not be allowed to take her baby home. I asked her did they say why. She told me that they are saying that I am not bonding with my baby; that I may have to give my baby up for adoption. “Auntie, I want my baby! I don’t want to give my baby up for adoption!” I wondered if I was hearing right, that she would have to give her baby up for adoption. I was not getting it. I knew my niece was very young, that she was a minor but that was not an acceptable reason; nor was this bit about my niece was not bonding with her baby. So I inquired of the hospital as to the reason they refused to let her bring her baby home. The real reason WAS NOT this thing about “not bonding with her baby.” For a moment, I thought about it. To this day, I believe the father was trying to take the baby away from her while she was in the hospital. He signed papers; his name was on the baby’s birth certificate as its father. My niece told me that she agreed with him that he could take the baby home for fear that the hospital would take her newborn away from her; she did not want to give her baby up for adoption.

Initially, I was not going to intervene in this saga, but I was finding that I had to intervene after the baby’s father made threats to my niece. My niece came home from the hospital. The baby’s father took the baby to his home. My niece went to visit the baby and she brought the baby with her to my home. The next thing I am hearing is the baby’s father saying to my niece, “I have a bullet with your name on it.” I remember those words. He yelled them to her while talking on the phone. I picked up the other telephone and I heard his voice on the other end. He was making this threat to my niece. There was no reason in the world for him to threaten her. He was a man 26 years old making this threat to a minor. He had raped my niece and was not in jail. But here he is making threats against her. I did not know he was 26 years old. He looked about ten years younger; he was short and small in stature, about 135 pounds.

It became obvious that I would have to intervene on behalf of my niece and the baby since my niece had received this threat from the baby’s father. Why would he say such, “I’ve got a bullet with your name on it”? I did not know but I called the police. They also advised me to go to court and request a protection order against the baby’s dad  for making the threats.  Well, I did do so. Also, guardianship of my niece and her baby was necessary. That was just the first hurdle involved in helping my niece keep her baby. Now, the baby’s father was trying to TAKE the baby away from her. He was trying to get full physical custody of the baby. I had no idea that he would try doing this since she was a minor, but he did. What’s more, I felt he was getting away with being a rapist of a minor.

I petitioned the court for guardianship of both my niece and her baby. After the court gave guardianship of my niece to me, I ended up in court having another  legal battle. Many times the father would bring the police to my home trying to take the baby from my niece, but I would show the police court papers. They told the baby’s father that he would have to go back to court, that there was nothing they could do. So the police left with the baby’s father. And, of course, we ended up back in court over the physical custody.

In the meantime, I discussed with my attorney whether anything legally against the baby’s father could be done since my niece was a minor.   The baby’s father allegedly raped my niece. Well, my attorney did bring that up in one of the hearings we had and the Judge surprised me with his ruling. The Judge stated that she must have consented even though she was a minor. Of course, I felt the baby’s father should have been behind bars, locked up in jail. Why? I felt he should have been in jail because he had raped a minor, a child. I could not see how the ruling went in his favor. The Judge did not throw the book at him and lock him up. As I think about it, now, perhaps, we filed the criminal action in the wrong court. We were in court with a petition for physical custody of the baby. So we just left that alone after the Judge stated that my niece must have consented to the relationship. How could she consent being a minor? She was only fifteen years old.  She is now sixteen years old and I am fighting on her behalf for full custody of her son.

Of course, I requested of the father to voluntarily grant physical custody of the baby to my niece and he refused. So we were in court battling over physical custody of their baby. Finally, after months of court hearings, the Judge granted full physical custody to my niece.

This whole scenario makes me think about other young girls who face similar challenges early on with their newborn in a hospital. The hospital tell them they cannot take their baby home because they are not bonding with their baby. Well, my niece was crying and I was hysterical. I felt they had not contacted any member of her family to make any suggestions for keeping her baby. I had never heard of this in my life where a hospital would make a request of a minor to give her baby up even though the mother wants her baby. What’s more my niece had family support.

The hospital did not ask the family anything. They told my niece that she would have to give up her baby to adoption since it appeared to them that she was not bonding with her baby. After hearing this, my niece turned to the baby’s father. I picked up the paternity papers for him and he filled them out. He then filed for paternity. Then he signs the baby’s birth certificate at the hospital and takes the baby home. What’s next? He threatens the Mother’s life and one thing leads to another. The Court granted full physical custody to my niece. That nephew is now eighteen years old. I often think about where he would have been had we not the family support and fought to keep him when he was a baby.

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