Government Agrees to Locate Children’s Absent Fathers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government has agreed to help children fathered and left overseas by American soldiers to make contact with their fathers, the National Archives and a British group announced Friday.
The archives, the Defense Department and War Babes, an organization of about 300 British-born offspring of American fathers from World War II, have agreed to settle a 2-year-old lawsuit intended to force the Archives and Defense Department to help children separated from, and sometimes unknown to, the fathers.
The settlement was signed Thursday and filed in U.S. District Court. It still must be approved a federal judge.
It ″begins to redress the wrongs that started during the war when the Army encouraged men to have a good time, and then prevented them from marrying the mothers of their children and whisked them away so they could not be found,″ said Joan Meier, Washington-based attorney for War Babes.
She added that the settlement will help all children of American veterans who want to know their fathers, including those from the Vietnam War.
War Babes, based in Birmingham, England, sought to establish that the right of children to information under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act took priority over the Privacy Act.
The Pentagon has cited the Privacy Act prohibitions on provision of information to refuse requests to help reach veterans or active members of the armed forces even where the names and service numbers were provided.
Shirley McGlade, the founder of War Babes, said in an affidavit filed in the case that several fathers have been traced and contrary to the U.S. government position, ″in almost every case the father welcomed his child, often with great joy.″
The government agreed in the settlement to forward certified mail from a son or daughter to the father at the last address listed in the U.S. National Personnel Records Center, operated by the Archives under Pentagon direction.
If the father has died, the government agreed to disclose the address in returning the letter. In other cases, the city and state but not the street address will be provided, Ms. Meier said.
Ms. McGlade was the daughter of a Welsh woman and an American soldier who left not knowing her mother was pregnant, she said. She found her father in California with the help of a U.S. radio program and his friends.