Adoptive Fathers: The Less-Heard Voices

When it comes to adoption, there are so many different points of view. Often, we hear the experiences from the adoptive mothers’ perspective. For some women, sharing stories about their family and children comes very naturally; understandably, they tend to be the most common voice that is heard. As a mother of adoption, I can certainly identify with that feeling. I love telling the story about how my beautiful boy became a part of our family–all the ups and downs and trying to figure out what works best for us. However, it is just as important to explore the perspectives of all that are involved. This includes adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents; they are all the voices that deserve recognition. The only way we will continue to evolve within the adoption community is to continue to listen and learn. 

Adoptive fathers are typically less heard. We can easily find social media posts or Youtube videos of adoptive mothers sharing their experiences with adoption–myself included. People often do not realize that there is a growing demographic of single adoptive fathers, mostly through the avenue of foster care. Sadly, there are agencies still enforcing strict restrictions eliminating the eligibility of single fathers to adopt, and some potential fathers even have their intentions for adoption questioned. While single women are making large strides within the adoption community, we have to allow the same opportunities to potential single fathers and make room for them within the space of storytelling. Their voices are just as valuable. 

So, I have taken this time to listen to the voice that I often overlook: my husband’s. Although I never minimize his role in our son’s life, I have realized that I have never asked him about the feelings that I so openly share, and honestly, I fell into the stereotypical behavior of glossing over a man’s feelings. Thankfully, the days of macho-men are slipping away and it has become more common for men to share their thoughts in a safe atmosphere. It was time that I acknowledged it on a more personal level.  

One of the things that amaze me the most is the bond that my husband and my son have. Our family did not come together like a movie scene. We were never planning on having children, and the circumstances that led to the adoption of our son were very unexpected. I have a family member that, unfortunately, struggled with substance abuse and was incarcerated while pregnant. So, our parenthood journey began through somewhat of an emergency situation. We did not know what to expect and we did not know how to respond emotionally either. I feel like the genetic link contributed to my connection with our son; however, my husband was in unfamiliar territory. Watching their relationship blossom has been one of my greatest joys in life.  

I held a little Q&A with my husband about our adoption experience:

Was adoption ever on your life-plan radar?

No, I always thought that if I had children they would be biological. This was not something I ever expected or saw myself doing.

Did you feel a connection right away or did it take time to develop?

I feel like everything happened so fast it was hard to process everything at once.

The bond did not happen instantly when he was born, but the bond started when I first held him. The more time I spent with him, the more connected I felt. As I started falling into the fatherly roles, we developed a bond together. 

Did you ever think you would feel this way about a child that was not biologically yours?

No, it was never something I thought about before adopting. Adoption is not something I thought about so I never explored those thoughts. It is hard to have an opinion about something that you have not experienced. 

His answers seem very simple and direct, but nonetheless valuable. It is not the answers that matter, but the opportunity to share. I think we can all understand the importance of a platform to voice our thoughts. We live in an era where sought-out platforms are easily obtained; however, we seem to overlook the value of having a platform in our own homes. Giving your family an opportunity to share their experience of adoption can create the security they need to explore and recognize both beauty and conflict in their own adoption journey. We can not assume they have had the same experience as we have. It is also important to remember that just because a member in your household has a different feeling than you, that does not mean that there is something wrong. Again, everyone’s perspective is different. If necessary, please seek assistance from a mental health care professional that specializes in adoption. 

Whether we like to admit it or not, the reality is that adoption is not all positive experiences, and there are important issues that may need to be addressed. 

We love our son more than I can fully express in words; however, we know that a time is coming where we have to fully explain to him the reality of how we became a family. As he is growing and understanding the world, we know that the open and honest conversation that we have been practicing in our minds is closer than we think and the safe platform in our home is hopefully secure enough for all of us to stand on. As we prepare for this much-anticipated conversation, the opportunity for my husband to fully express and process the thoughts that he has had is crucial to understanding our family dynamic.

Making the habit of welcoming all experiences and perspectives will be beneficial not only within your family but the adoption community as a whole. Adoption awareness is growing daily. Social media has vastly contributed to the ability to amplify the voices of adoption, and this is how we are learning. Things like adoption trauma, transracial adoptions, and foster care are all being addressed and we are no longer sweeping things under the rug. These advancements have all started with a simple, safe space to share.