â€œPeople believe I am what they see Me as, rather than what they do not see. But I am the Great Unseen, not what I cause Myself to be in any particular moment. In a sense, I am what I am not. It is from the Am-notness that I come, and to it I always return.â€ – Neal Donald Walsch
Travel through an adoption related forum or blog or journal and you are likely to see some rather interesting references to the men who fathered our children. Mothers take offense to the birthmother label. How about trying these beauties on for size?
- Sperm donor
- Birthfather (if a mother is a birth mother because she physically gives birth how exactly does a father become a birth father?)
In my personal experience, I feel it is a gross assumption to believe that the majority of fathers had enjoyable sex with a woman and then left her to carry the burden of the child alone. In many cases, the pregnant mother was sequestered by her family and the father never had a chance to â€œdo the right thingâ€. It is often the case that the father did not even know where his girlfriend went to or how to reach her. Other fathers were never even told their girlfriends were pregnant.
Besides my daughters father, I know several other natural fathers. A few of them are even here online. Those men have reinforced what I already knew. Men, fathers, can and do suffer as much as the mothers of loss. Sure, their loss and their feelings may be different but they still feel loss. It affects their future marriages and their future children. Adding to their complexity, they are males in a society that expects men to have no feeling. To suck it up, grin and bear it. Men are discouraged from crying, from showing emotion, from being a â€œsissyâ€. Many mothers of loss can and do openly grieve the loss of their children. How does a man do this?
Of course, I realize there are true scoundrels here. I do realize there were men who raped, men who had casual sex and never gave the woman or the child another thought. They are not the men I feel for.
Itâ€™s the Davids, and the Dans, and the Brads and the Steves and the others that I feel for. They are the men that have broken through the emotional cage society keeps men in and have screamed, loudly, that they miss their children and in many cases they miss the women who bore them. They found they strength to bust out of the machismo and admit they are human, they cry, they have emotions.
As Fathers Day approaches, my heart aches for all of them and in particular a few special dads I know:
Sean was an 18 year old boy dating a 16 year old girl. They dated for several years with the knowledge and blessing of 16 yo girlâ€™s family. Family knew they were sexually active. They would let Sean sleep at their home. They liked Sean. Girl gets pregnant. Girlâ€™s mother is outraged, embarrassed, horrified. She demands her daughter get an abortion. Daughter refuses. Daughter loves Sean and they want to marry. Daughterâ€™s mother refuses. Abortion is the only option. Daughter refuses. Daughterâ€™s mother informs daughter that if she does not kill the child inside her or give it up for adoption she will have Sean arrested for statutory rape. He is over age. She is a minor. 16 yo girl, desperate to save the child inside her and prevent her love from getting arrested, agrees to adoption. Mother sends daughter away to maternity home. Sean never knew where she went or what happened.
I met Dean online via an internet email list for parents who lost children in the 1980s. I was so impressed with Dean and his presence on our list. He was the only male. He adored the son he lost to adoption. While married (not sons mother), he often discussed in depth his feelings of loss and grief. He frequently talked about his never ending love for his sonâ€™s mother.
Like my friend Dean, Mike was a father of loss. Mike lost a daughter to the adoption machine over twenty years ago. Mikes first love, the mother of his daughter, was from an exceptionally wealthy family. Mike was not. He wanted very much to marry his daughterâ€™s mother but the maternal family indicated he was from the wrong side of the tracks. They completely shut him out and whisked his love away. He had no idea where she went or why. Mike married another woman, had children with her, but never â€œgot overâ€his first love and the child lost to adoption. When he was reunited with her, he also reunited with the mother and reignited their long lost love via an extra marital affair. Mikes wife learned of the affair and divorced him. Mike and his first love were later married â€“ but sadly spent over 20 something years apart before doing so. What about the other children and the second wife? Mike is a dedicated father to his additional children and feels significant sadness for the pain caused to his second wife. He regrets deeply that she got caught as collateral damage to his adoption trauma. He thought he was over it, thought it did not matter, never imagined reuniting with his child would cause him to reunite with his first love.
Finally, my daughterâ€™s father. I donâ€™t discuss him much publicly. I do that to protect his privacy and hers. There is quite a back story there but I donâ€™t want her (or him or his other children) to read about it on the internet. If they want to know, I hope some day they will ask. I can comfortably state that he loved me. Perhaps more than I loved him. My family and I wronged him and held him responsible for crimes we committed â€“ not him. I know this now. My own growth and maturity and therapy have allowed me to put things in context, in proper order and hold the right people accountable. His only mistake may have been loving me.
As Fathers Day in the USofA approaches, I wish all the Dads I know peace, love and happiness. If you are not yet in reunion, I pray that you someday will be. If you are, and itâ€™s not what you want, I urge you to hang on. You are a rare breed and I must believe for you (as I must believe it for myself) that your child will someday appreciate, respect and understand you. You never wanted to leave them in the first place. Donâ€™t do it now. Above all else, I thank you for sharing with us, with me, with the internet.
Your child may not be with you. You may not have given birth. But you are a father.
Wishing you an early Happy Dads day.