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– birthfather.com –
In my reflections... on the sometimes confused world of relationships which adoption can create, I find a certain peacefulness in acknowledging that there is another man out there who [is] also my son's father. Maybe that's just because a club with two members is much more interesting than a club with only one. - Curt Rice, Fathers and Son
We know they're out there. Biological reality. But birthfathers are the most silent members of the adoption constellation. They rarely appear in our chat rooms, on our forums, in our publications, registries, and organizations. Do they care? It's a question many adoptees ask at some point in their lives.
An adoptive mom told me, "I can answer for both of my sons' birthfathers: they both are pretending our sons don't exist. The first hid when it was time to sign away his rights and has never admitted paternity. The second at least met us and signed away his rights. But he never met our son."
A Sign of the Times or the Male Mystique?
A birthmother friend believes younger men are more forthcoming and accepting of their responsibilities. "Many bdads of the 60s rode off into the sunset without a care in the world. I never told the bdad about my pregnancy until Liz was 18. He of course admitted that he knew from the beginning and had always felt guilty for not supporting me."
But many believe it's the intimate nature of pregnancy and the bond that women have with the child in utero which doesn't include fathers in the same way. A friend writes, "Perhaps the reason bfathers are so noticeably absent is more biological than emotional. We bmoms had a long-standing physical connection to our children, and we are genetically programmed -- some of us more than others -- to bond with our children, as they are programmed to bond with us. We had nine months, give or take, to form that bond, while the bfathers for the most part simply went on about their business of hunting and gathering and whatnot. (Mostly whatnot, from what I've witnessed.) Mind you, I am not saying that finding bfathers is less important, or that the relationship with the father (if you will) cannot be as influential as that with the mother. But maybe our evolution just has not progressed as rapidly as our civilization. I honestly think that if my daughter had not found me, and through me her birthfather, he would never have considered searching for her, nor would the loss of her have been much of an issue for him. This is not because he is a callous person; for him, she was simply another episode in his youth that he had long since put aside. He didn't live with her for nearly a year as I did, and so she was never as real to him as she was to me."
What Do Birthfathers Say?
The truth is that birthfathers haven't been given much of a voice in the decision-making process until recently. "When my children were kept from me and given away for me never to see again, the birthmother said it was the best thing for them, and maybe she really believed that, but it was a violation of my rights (not a legal violation at that time, 1964, but certainly a moral one)," says one birthfather.
We Never Knew
Another man adds, "For the most part, birthfathers do not know that they are birthfathers until after they have been found. Amazing how easy it is for a birthmother to forget who the birthfather was or how it came about or how to contact him when it comes time to relinquish. Not to put down the birthmothers, just to acknowledge part of the history. Another good reason is that more often than not, when a birthfather pops his head up in a forum, he is open to immediate and vitriolic attacks from birthmothers who will be present. Both situations lead males to not want to be involved. In a broader sense, examine how males are raised. Look at the myths that males survive under and how they learn to respond. I recommend Pollack's book on "Real Boys" It is enlightening to see how a little boy is taught to be tough and independent as soon as he is able to walk. How he is taught not to accept or recognize most of the emotions that are fostered in little girls. Now bring that up to the present and think of how many males that you know that do not respond verbally to situations that you (females) would talk to death. See how they will give you answers by performing actions. Now figure out how a male can consider looking if he does not know if, where or how to look or posting for registries or in chats or on boards when he has not learned how to accept or discuss his own emotions."
When We Do Speak Up, No one Listens
And another birthdad is finding it hard to be heard, even now: "Every time I try to talk on a chat etc as a bdad who is crazy about his daughter I am ignored. Her birthmother had told me she was going to have an abortion. She then disappeared. Since abortions were illegal in 1962, I searched through birth records and found nothing. I knew in my heart there had been a child. I always knew it was a girl. I had told my wife when we married 36 years ago there was a possibility of a child."
Emotion Isn't Just a "Female" Thing
Note: Shortly after this conversation, Art and his son David were reunited - a very moving and emotional experience for all who were privileged to hear the details.
Credits: by Nancy S. Ashe
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