The adopted person, adoptive parents, birth mothers, even birth grandparents receive a lot of attention in the adoption community. But there’s another person who is typically forgotten and often ridiculed, even in the increasingly open dialogue of adoption: the birth father.

I’ve been in the adoption world for quite a few years now, and still find myself surprised when I hear about birth fathers being involved in the adoption. It’s a stereotype that I’m hoping to alter. No two scenarios are the same, and I want to make it clear that not every birth father is the type of guy who leaves as soon as the girl is pregnant. I fight the stereotype that birth mothers don’t want their babies, or are too lazy to raise them—and it’s time to fight birth father stereotypes as well. 

I was able to get in ouch with three birth fathers—Dan, Casey, and Tevin—and hear their side of the experience. Here are four things they want you to know:

1 – Birth Fathers are important. 

Dan: “Birth fathers have an important voice, while it is one that isn’t often taken seriously because there are those that have a responsibility they choose to disregard. From the first day that we learned about the pregnancy, [the birth mother] and I worked together. I must say that it often didn’t feel like working together, though. We would fight each other and often times take out frustration on one another. For me, I accepted that I had the easier of our two places and I believed that a large part of my role was to listen to her struggles and do what I could to help ease any tension or discomfort.”

2 – We have good reasons for choosing adoption. 

Dan: “Our first decision was whether to parent, adopt, or abort. [The birth mother] quickly decided that abortion was not a option. We had only been dating a few months and I knew we were not ready for marriage. We were left with parenting from different houses or adoption. What a decision! I must say that I felt guilt and shame. Both [the birth mother] and I had daughters from previous marriages. Both of our girls were around 7 years old and we knew how hard it was to co-parent after a breakup—and the struggle of being a single parent. We also knew how much we loved these little girls. How could I be a part of creating a beautiful life and not want to see the child grow each day, yet know that this child would have many advantages if they were to be raised in a stable house with both parents being present daily? Adoption was a very difficult choice. Having the relationship [from open adoption] that we have has been the greatest joy for me. It has taken my feelings from shame and guilt to joy.”

Casey: “After running through every option we finally decided that adoption would be the safest and best way for our child to live a happy, healthy life s/he deserved. It was a hard choice at the same time.”

3 – We are involved, just in our own way. 

Casey: “I tried to be involved as much as possible during the whole process. I wanted to be as supportive and helpful as possible to the mother during the time. I was unfortunately unable to be at the hospital for the birth of our baby, which was the hardest part. I know I can’t go back in time. If I could, I would to be there to hold her those first few hours. I never expected to have to experience something like this. It can be heart-breaking but a miracle at the same time”

Tevin: “I was there from 4-9 months. I was at every doctors visit, ultrasound, buying prenatal vitamins, and of course meeting [the birth mother’s] food cravings. We go see [our birth daughter] every chance that we get. They send pictures. We went to her baptism and sealing. I am almost as involved as the birth mother. I say it like that because a mother’s love is like no other.”

 4 – There Is love in our thoughts and actions. 

Dan: “There are differences about being a birth father verses being a birth mother. There is definitely a difference in how people respond to you. I have never had anyone put me down or ridicule me, but I also did not receive the support and assistance that [the birth mother] did. I do not believe that birth fathers deserve the same support, though. Birth mothers are amazing people. I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. They absolutely deserve every ounce of support they receive and I wish there were many more ways that would make the process and aftermath of adoption easier and more comfortable for them.”

Casey: “Anytime someone asks me if I have kids, I say yes. I tell them I have a beautiful birth daughter [that we placed for adoption]. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. You just have to be strong about it from day one. It’s a life-changing experience for anyone who goes through adoption. I believe it’s a very good thing. You just have to believe in yourself and know that you’re making the right decision for the better of anyone involved. I actually kinda cried writing [this]! It’s harder at certain times than others but I always try to be positive about it. I want my birth daughter to know I just wanted her to be happy and have every opportunity possible even if I wasn’t the one giving it to her.”