Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rewriting the Open Adoption Fantasy: Part Two, What About Birthdad?

"What about the birth father?
If the father of your baby knows that you are pregnant and is supportive of the adoption, he can be as involved in the process as you would like. If he is not supportive of the adoption, nor supportive of you and your pregnancy, then we can work with you in terminating his rights. But don't worry! This usually is not a problem."

(This is from a website that is Google’s top search result for “adoption information.”)

So this is where I’m starting from.

I’m starting from a culture that continually presents the Birthfather as easy to take care of problem.  I’m starting from a society that heavily promotes the notion that Birthfather’s rights are not as important as Birthmother’s. “We can work with you in terminating his rights! This is usually not a problem!”

Next step was having a child placed with us whose Birthfather was unknown. We had absolutely no contact with Birthmom at that time and the state reported that she said he was a married man and would not reveal his name.  

Later when she had two more children that were also placed with us, I began to see her and the Birthfather of the younger two at weekly visits. While Z and A’s Birthfather was in our lives at the weekly visits, he was as kind and loving to E as he was to the two he fathered, but the fact is, he is not E’s first Daddy. I did ask Birthmom two times to please tell me even just a first name of E’s Birthdad, but she refused. When E looks through their baby books, he often remarks, “But I don’t have a first Daddy.” I'm sure this is partially why I personally shy away from the topic.

Although Z and A’s Birthdad and I were friendly with each other, it was their Birthmother that I connected with and communicated with more. I felt sympathy for her, as a fellow woman and mother. I learned that she was born just weeks before me and only an hour away from where I was born. She was the one that would text me if they were running late to a visit or she had a question about the kids’ current sizes. In return, she was the one that I would send photos and messages about the kids to.

As time passed and the visits and contact became sporadic, I completely lost touch with him. Right before our state mandated visits ended I began to construct a package for birthmom filled with a personal letter, photos and drawings. My own husband pointed out my lack of personal touches for Birthdad. I made sure to add some in before mailing it.

Almost two years since sending that I have no contact with him at all. I hear about him sometimes now through Birthmom’s family, but I don’t have contact with him myself. I know he has other (grown) children that may or may not want to meet their young half-siblings. Surely there are cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents on that side of the family. For some reason I always felt more intimidated by reaching out to them than I ever did about reaching out to Birthmom’s family.

Will I find a way to overcome this intimidation and the communication obstacles some day? I hope I do, but I honestly don’t foresee it happening in the near future. Will I ever find out E’s Birthfather is and get to meet him or any of his extended family? I don’t see how that can ever be possible and that makes me terribly sad.

So for now, it looks like the absent Birthfather is going to be the only part of the open adoption fantasy I haven’t been able to deconstruct.

One day I hope that can change.

1 comment:

  1. Gina, thank you for writing this post. Of late I am becoming increasingly aware of how easy it is to be dismissive of or even terminate the parental rights of the unwed birth father. I mean, a biological mother could refuse to take care of herself during her pregnancy, do drugs, alcohol, whatever, maybe even actively try to poison her fetus to abort it, yet her rights are not terminated without being offered ample opportunities for rehabilitation. It stands in stark contrast to that of unwed birth fathers, whose rights can be terminated even if they have difficulty maintaining contact with the birth mother during the pregnancy due to an adversarial relationship, restraining orders, the mother hiding herself and/or information from him, etc. Case law demands that they find a way to support that unborn child, no matter how next to impossible that might be under the circumstances (like E's birth father probably doesn't even know he exists?). While I believe we as a society should have high expectations of anyone who wants to be a parent, there is an unequal standard there that bothers me.