In research for her new book, “The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father,’’ Sally Jacobs, a Boston Globe reporter, discovered a file from 1961 detailing a meeting between an immigration officer and Barack Obama Sr. The officer wrote of Obama’s parents: “Although they were married they do not live together and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away.”
Robert L. Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, 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, Gibbs said, was Obama previously aware of the INS memo. Gibbs said that the White House had made no 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.’’
Obama’s parents, however, were young — his mother was only 18 at the time — and were struggling financially. On top of the burden of age and wealth, the two were also an interracial couple at a time when a mixed marriages were banned in 22 U.S. states.
The memo is just one of a number of files pertaining to Obama Sr.’s “alien” file, which tracked him during his time in Honolulu, where he met Obama’s mother. As a holder of a student visa, he was required to apply for an annual extension every year for five years. He could have made the adoption story up to appease worried immigration officers that he would not overstay his visa.