What About The Birth Father?
August 24, 2012
We don’t hear a lot about birth fathers. Many of them are not around by the time that beautiful child comes into the world. But what about the one’s that do stick around? What about the men who love their children,stick by their mother’s and grieve the loss of this child every bit as much as the woman who gave birth to that baby? I am not sure that we, adoption practitioners, know quite how to treat this rare individual.
I met such a man just a few short weeks ago. This was a young black man, a member of a community that does not historically embrace non-kinship adoptions. If I were to tell you that our first meeting was a big success I would be telling a lie. This young man was in love with his daughter who was due to be born in just a few short weeks. Although he had yet to meet her, she was already “Daddy’s little girl”. Although only 20-years-old and struggling to support his girlfriend and her 18-month-old son; he was wise beyond his years. He was faced with an unimaginable decision, try to parent his first born when both he and the mother know that they are not financially stable enough to care for another child or sign paperwork that allow another couple to raise his daughter as their own. What do you do when there is no easy answer…you “Man Up”! And that is what he did.
This brave young man, with the love and support of the grandmother who raised him, stood by his girlfriend and supported her through this entire process. He attended the pre-natal visits, shopped with us for maternity clothes, endured the “pre-epidural” phase of labor and did not pass out before he cut the cord. He went to work during the day and did his best to take care of his family when he was off.
The day to sign Consents always comes too quickly for the birth family. He had his grandmother by his side in the hospital room when it was time to say “Good Bye”. Her support was immeasurable and spoke volumes about the depth of their relationship. The birth mother wanted the adoptive parents in the room when the final papers were signed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place by the time all the signing was done. The adoptive parents’ hugged this young man who had tears in his eyes as he held his first born daughter. They knew that this child was now legally theirs. But this was a bitter sweet moment as they witnessed the pain that this young family was experiencing. They each faced a reality of adoption; one family must grieve so another family can rejoice.
This young man left the hospital with his grieving girlfriend, her young son and heart-broken grandmother. He delivered all safely home and then went to work.
So…when I think of birth fathers from here on out, I will think of this young man and smile to myself.