President Barack Obama’s father, then on a student visa at the University of Hawaii, told U.S. immigration officials in 1961 that he and his pregnant wife planned to put their coming baby up for adoption, according to U.S. government memos obtained by Boston Globe reporter Sally Jacobs.
Jacobs, author of a forthcoming biography of Barack Obama’s father, obtained the files from the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. She also scoured Kenyan Finance Ministry files, where the elder Obama later worked, to learn more about the man President Obama depicted in his own autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” as an absent figure who abandoned him and his mother when he was two.
“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 writes in a front page piece in the Globe today:
The elder Barack H. Obama, a sophomore at the University of Hawaii, had come under scrutiny by federal immigration officials … Although his new wife, Ann Dunham, was five months pregnant with their child … [the elder] Obama declared that they intended to put their child up for adoption.
“Subject got his USC 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 … with the Honolulu office of what was then called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told Jacobs at the time the memo was released that President Obama was unaware that his parents had discussed any such plans. President Obama “is absolutely convinced that she did not,” Gibbs told Jacobs, referring to the claims in the April 1961 INS memo that his mother had discussions with the Salvation Army about arrangements to place the baby for adoption.
Obama’s father left Obama and his mother when the boy was 2 to pursue a PhD program at Harvard. He later returned to Kenya in 1964 before finishing his program because of apparent visa problems. He went on to work for Kenya’s Ministry of Finance.
The elder “Obama’s impact has proved to be profoundly greater than he could have imagined,” Jacob writes in the forthcoming biography, “The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father,” according to a brief sneak-peak published by Politico’s Mike Allen today. “Although he never knew it, his legacy was to produce the most powerful man in the world.”
Jacob’s biography of the elder Obama will be released Tuesday.