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.
The elder Barack H. Obama, 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 he was 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 - who would be called Barack Obama II - 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 describing the conversation with Obama written by Lyle H. Dahling, an administrator in the Honolulu office of what was then called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Obama, the Subject, and his USC, or United States citizen, wife, obviously, did not put their baby up for adoption. 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, is unclear. Family members on both sides of the marriage now say they never heard any mention of adoption.