A statement from Barack Obama's half-sister has at least cast a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of the "Certificate of Live Birth" document that was released by the White House this week in an attempt to stifle questions about his eligibility, by referencing his apparent adoption by her father, Indonesian Lolo Soetoro.
Facebook page comments from Maya Soetoro-Ng
On a Facebook page, Maya Soetoro-Ng wrote to a woman who had met her in Hawaii after Madelyn Dunham, the mother of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro and grandmother to both Maya and Barack, passed away in 2008.
Soetoro-Ng was objecting to having a conversation with a critic of her half-brother, and said she had been misquoted as saying her whole family was Muslim.
She wrote, "I did not say my brother was a Muslim. I did say that I was more philosophically Buddhist. I told you that you were upsetting me. You said that you were not trying to upset me but wanted to know the truth about (Raila) Odinga (a Muslim for whom Barack Obama campaigned in the 2007 presidential race in Kenya). I told you I didn't know who that was and had never met him. You mentioned the adoption laws of Indonesia that you saw as related to my brother's legitimacy (you were suggesting that because my father, his stepfather, had adopted him, that my brother was no longer American) and I said that I had no idea about Indonesian adoption law."
While not a definitive statement, there also are other indications that Lolo Soetoro, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro's second husband, an Indonesia, either adopted Barack Obama or considered him adopted, as documentation obtained by the Associated Press reveals that Obama-Soetoro was registered as a Muslim Indonesian at school when he lived in the Far East with his mother and Lolo Soetoro.
Indonesian school registration for "Barry Soetoro" (AP photo)
The adoption, if it happened, could affect the birth certificate in that in the United States, when an adoption takes place, a birth certificate that would have been generated at birth is replaced by a birth certificate created at an adoption that references the adoptive parents as the actual birth parents. The location of birth is not changed, nor the weight of the baby, or other details. But the mother and father can be changed on an original long-form birth certificate during the adoption process.
WND has confirmed such practices in several states, including Maine, Colorado and California, and it largely is standard practice across the country.
Whether such practices would prevail in international adoptions, especially during the 1960s, remains unclear. Officials with the U.S. State Department provided reams of information on processes for U.S. couples to adopt foreign children, but declined to respond to questions about American citizen children adopted by Indonesians. Officials with both the Hawaii Department of Health and the Hawaii attorney general's office, which monitors the legal proceedings for adoptions there, declined to respond to more than a dozen requests for comment from WND.
Officials with the Indonesian embassy in Washington declined to provide details to WND on any adoption procedures, referring WND to an court in Indonesia instead.
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The U.S. State Department was able to confirm that adoptions by U.S. families of Indonesian children during 2010 totaled only three cases. There also were only three such cases in 2009 and only six in 2008.
Young Barack Obama with his mother
Tonya Franklin, the woman who had the exchange with Soetoro-Ng, said she had been researching a variety of subjects and had traveled to Hawaii. She went to the apartment of Madelyn Dunham, who passed away shortly before the election in 2008.
She had left a message at a school for Soetoro-Ng and then bumped into her in the parking lot.
"She believed he had been adopted," Franklin told WND of what she got out of the conversation. But she also said Soetoro-Ng was uncertain of the process that might or might not have taken place – the legalities and formalities. That conversation happened several years ago, but the Facebook exchange came just days ago.
During the 1960s Indonesia did not allow dual citizenship, so if the school record is correct, and Obama attended classes as an Indonesian citizen, the apparent requirement would have been for him to give up an American citizenship.
On his later return to the U.S., in regaining citizenship, he likely would have had to have been listed as a "naturalized" citizen, not a "natural-born Citizen," as demanded by the U.S. Constitution for the office of president.
That remains the focal point of challenges to his ascendancy to the Oval Office, because many interpret that phrase to mean the citizen offspring of two citizen parents. With Kenyan-born Barack Obama Sr. listed as his father, Obama Jr. would not have met those requirements under any circumstances.
Any adoption records that might exist have been kept from public review, however.
WND previously has reported that the dateline for Obama's move to Indonesia, and his later return to Hawaii, remains unclear.
Two newspaper articles from 1990 – apparently based on interviews with Barack Obama – reported that the future president left Hawaii for Indonesia when he was 2 years old, not 6 years old, as he relates in his autobiography.
On May 3, 1990, the Associated Press widely published a feature story on Obama highlighting him as the first African-American named as president of the Harvard Law review.
"Obama moved to Southeast Asia at age 2 when his parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian," the Associated Press reported. "Until the fifth grade, Obama attended Indonesian schools, where most of his friends were the sons of servants, street peddlers and farmers."
Here is the screen capture of the AP report as published by the Chicago Daily Herald on May 3, 1990:
Here is a close-up of the key two paragraphs:
Assuming that Obama was 10 years old in the fifth grade, this 1990 AP report would have placed Obama in Indonesia for eight years, from around August 1963 until August 1971, when he was 2 years old until he was 10 years old.
Then, on Aug. 1, 1990, reporter Tammerlin Drummond wrote that Obama left for Indonesia at 2 years old, in an article entitled "Harvard Law Review Gets Its First Black President."
"Two years [after Obama was born], Obama's parents separated and he moved to a small village outside Jakarta, Indonesia, with his mother, an anthropologist," Drummond wrote. "There he spent his boyhood playing with the sons and daughters of rice farmers and rickshaw drivers, attending an Indonesian-speaking school, where he had little contact with Americans."
Drummond further reported that, "After six years in Indonesia, Obama was sent back to the United States to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii in preparation for college."
Six years in Indonesia? Or eight years, as the AP reported earlier? Regardless of which account may be true, they both contradict the "official" story.
According to the timeline Obama has represented, here are key dates:
- Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4, 1961;
- Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, divorced Barack Obama Sr. on March 20, 1964, when Obama was still 2 years old;
- Stanley Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro on March 24, 1965, when Obama was 3 years old;
- On July 20, 1966, Lolo Soetoro leaves Hawaii, where he had been attending the University of Hawaii, to return to Indonesia;
- On June 29, 1967, Stanley Ann Dunham applies to the U.S. Department of State to amend her U.S. passport No. F777788 to change her name from Stanley Ann Dunham to her married name, Stanley Ann Soetoro;
- According to her passport records, Ann Dunham Soetoro traveled from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Djakarta, Indonesia, via Japan Airlines in October 1967, using U.S. Passport No. 777788.
If Barack Obama Jr. traveled with his mother to go to Indonesia for the first time in October 1967, he would have been six years old.
The information in Obama's memoir, "Dreams from My Father," generally supports that Obama was in Indonesia for only four years, from the time he was 6 years old until 10 years old, from 1967-1971, although the references to Indonesia in the autobiography are typically vague regarding specific dates.
In trying to determine the Obama timeline in Indonesia, the following passages in "Dreams from My Father" are relevant:
- Obama comments he had lived in Indonesia for "over three years by that time," discussing a visit with his mother to the U.S. embassy in Djakarta, at some unspecified time before he returned to the United States ("Dreams from My Father," p. 30).
- "In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school, two years at the Catholic school" ("Dreams from My Father," p. 154).
- On a yet unspecified date, supposedly in 1971, Barack Obama returns from Indonesia to Hawaii alone, unaccompanied by his mother ("Dreams from My Father," p. 53).
Holiyah "Lia" Soetoro Sobah (Source: We the People of the United States)
The obituaries identified Lia as having been adopted by Lolo Soetoro, Obama's stepfather, and Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro, the president's mother.
The surfacing of Lia as an adopted child of Lolo Soetoro and Dunham raised the question of whether Barack Obama himself might have been adopted officially as Lolo Soetoro's stepson while in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971.
Even though Obama makes no mention in "Dreams from My Father" of having had an Indonesian stepsister, the Indonesian obituaries make clear that Obama slept in the same room as his stepsister while the two of them grew up together in the Soetoro home in Jakarta.
While Obama has not acknowledged having had a stepsister in Indonesia, he discussed at length in his autobiography his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who was born in Indonesia to Lolo Soetoro and Ann Dunham on Aug. 15, 1970.
WND has reported that in a passport amendment submitted Aug. 13, 1968, Obama's mother identified her son with an Indonesian surname as Barack Obama II Soebarkah, and asked the State Department to drop him from her U.S. passport.
The transaction could have been part of an effort by Dunham to obtain Indonesian citizenship for her son.
WND also reported it is undisputed that Obama took on the last name of his stepfather in school registration documents while in Indonesia. All Indonesian students were required to carry government identity cards, or Karty Tanda Pendudaks, which needed to bear the student's legal name, which should be matched in public school registration filings.
According to Indonesian legal experts, it was difficult to enroll non-Indonesian citizens in public schooling.
If Lolo Soetoro adopted Obama at age five or younger, then Obama would automatically have become an Indonesian citizen according to the country's laws in the 1960s, which stipulated any child aged five or younger adopted by an Indonesian father is immediately granted Indonesian citizenship upon completion of the adoption process.
Lolo Soetoro could have adopted Obama in Hawaii, although such an adoption would not have necessarily been recognized by Indonesia. Likewise, what happened in Indonesia may or may not have affected the status of Obama-Soetoro in the U.S.