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Sr Obama considered putting his son up for adoption: Book

July 08, 2011 12:42 IST

United States President Barack Obama's father had intended to put his unborn son up for adoption, as the senior Obama tried to appease US immigration officials who raised concerns about him having two wives as well as his "playboy ways", a new book has revealed.

Details about Obama senior have emerged in a book by Boston Globe reporter Sally Jacobs.

Titled 'The Other Barack, The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama's Father,' the biography is slated for release next week.

"In the spring of 1961, President Obama's father revealed a plan for his unborn son that might have changed the course of American political history," Jacobs said in an article in the Boston Globe.

The elder Obama, who was at the time a sophomore at the University of Hawaii, had come under scrutiny by federal immigration officials who were concerned that he had more than one wife. When questioned by the school's foreign student adviser, the 24-year-old Obama insisted that he had divorced his wife in his native Kenya.

Although his new wife, Ann Dunham, was five months pregnant with their child 'Barack Obama II', Obama declared that they intended to put their child up for adoption.

"Subject (Obama senior) got his USC (United States citizen) wife 'Hapai' (Hawaiian for pregnant) and although they were married they do not live together and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away," according to a memo describing the conversation with Obama senior written by Lyle Dahling, an administrator in the Honolulu office of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Salvation Army had operated nearly a dozen residential maternity homes throughout the US and made arrangements for adoption through local agencies.

Dunham, who died in 1995, was 18 years old when she gave birth to Barack Obama.

While neither Obama nor his wife put their baby up for adoption, it is unclear whether the young couple actually considered such a step, or the elder Obama made the story up in order to appease immigration officials who at the time were considering his request for an extension of his stay in the United States, Jacobs said.

"But his statement provides a unique glimpse into the relationship between the President's parents and the fragility of his connection to the father whom he would little know," Jacobs added.

At the time that he made his statement about adoption in spring 1961, Obama was in the midst of applying for an extension of his stay in the United States.

He had two children in Kenya and was facing severe financial problems.

"Obama would have wanted to present a case that would impress immigration authorities. A bigamist with a mixed-race baby, if that is how authorities chose to see him, was not likely to be the strongest of candidates."

University of Hawaii and federal immigration authorities were already alarmed about Obama's relationships with women and also had doubts about his marital status.

When he married Dunham in February 1961, school administrators began to probe his status in earnest, Jacobs said.

According to Dahling's memo, "...(Obama) has been running around with several girls since he first arrived here and last summer (he was) cautioned about his playboy ways.

(Obama) replied that he would 'try' to stay away from the girls."

He later began dating the dark-eyed Ann Dunham.

Dahling's memo, dated April 12, 1961, is among dozens of documents in the elder Obama's "alien" file released by the

Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of

Information Act request made in the course of research on the biography of Obama's father.

Obama was on a foreign student visa and later went to Harvard University for a doctorate in Economics.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had said at the time the document was released that President Obama had never been told that his mother had considered putting him up for adoption.

Nor was the President previously aware of the INS memo, Gibbs had said, adding that the White House had not made any effort to determine if Dunham had ever had a conversation with the Salvation Army.

The president, he added, "is absolutely convinced that she did not."

Neither President Obama nor the White House has since asked the Salvation Army if there is any record that his parents talked with the organisation regarding his possible adoption, the article added.

However, in his memoir 'Dreams from My Father', President Obama mused that his mother might have considered putting her child up for adoption given the cultural hostility to mixed race marriages that existed at the time.

Even in sophisticated urban centers, he wrote, "...the hostile stares, the whispers, might have driven a woman in my mother's predicament into a back-alley abortion - or at the very least to a distant convent that could arrange for adoption."

Yoshita Singh in Boston
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