Yesterday I wrote about how some birth mothers react to the subject of Father’s Day when it comes to their relinquished child’s biological father. I asked the same question of adoptive parents. Much like in the birth mother group, their answers varied widely. I expect no less as adoption is such a unique experience for every family and even each member within that family!
For some parents, it came down to not knowing the birth father for different reasons. Some fathers had chosen not to be involved. Some fathers were not named by the birth mother (not all states require identifying the birth father for relinquishment). One (adoptive) mother said:
Unfortunately we do not have contact with them, per their choice. She was a secret and both families do not know about her. That in itself saddens me as we would love to have contact with them.
That said too, if we were to have contact would recognize them both on such important days. You bet we would. They deserve to be recognized for their part in K’s life.
When I asked if contact every resumed if this particular mother would acknowledge the father on Father’s Day, she replied in the affirmative. Others spoke similarly, wishing that they could acknowledge their child’s biological father on Father’s Day even in small ways.
One mother told a story of changing circumstance. Her husband had previously been fiercely (her words) protective of his role as their daughter’s Dad. However, the birth father has recently added to his own family, thus becoming a Dad as well. When the mother asked her husband if they should send the birth father a card this year, he replied, “Yes, of course!” I think this is important to share because it shows that while we may feel one way, things can change.
One mother struggled with the topic as she wrote it, saying that she wouldn’t send a card from her son until he was old enough to decide whether or not he wanted to. She also said that her Husband doesn’t “send one from” their son to her for Mother’s Day either; they’ll wait until he’s old enough. I want to send this family cards! I send cards to all of the Mother’s in my life who are important to me on Mother’s Day: my Mom, my grandmothers, my aunts, my friends, my daughter’s Mom. It’s not just about acknowledging your Mom, but acknowledging Mothers in general. (As a brief example, a Mom friend of mine lost her daughter to suicide four years ago. I now send her flowers on Mother’s Day because no one is left to do so.) Anyway, I digress. Sometimes these holidays are about children saying thanks. And sometimes it’s about adults recognizing other adults. I get both points, I really do. Just playing the Devil’s advocate because that’s what I do.
And one last mother pointed out something different as she is an adoptive mother from the foster care side of things. While she said that they wouldn’t be acknowledging their childrens’ fathers for personal reasons, she understood the idea. And she brought up this important point.
I think when it comes to foster adoptions the fathers are given very few options. They are told, “raise the child”, “have a relative raise the child” or “surrender your rights”. Sadly most on are notice and are notified of the terminiation of rights by newspaper ads in random newspapers.
Sadly, it’s not that different in domestic adoption. As one mother stated as well, some states do not require identifying the father. Some biological fathers are not even aware that they are birth fathers. The large majority of birth fathers are not offered any counseling about either their rights to raise the child or the importance that they can and should play in their relinquished child’s life. My daughter’s birth father has said that he doesn’t understand his role or the importance he plays in her life. Without being told what is expected of them, most are clueless and don’t know where to begin.
All in all, it was a great discussion on the topic. Tomorrow? A few adoptees speak as well!
For more on holidays, read these posts.