I sometimes get a little angry when I hear people talking about birth fathers as “deadbeat dads.” There seems to be a general assumption that only birth mothers carry the anguish of giving up a child. I am one of the exceptions. My girlfriend became pregnant when we were both just sixteen years old. We were both honor students, and we thought things like unplanned pregnancies didn’t happen to people like us. Well, they do.
I remained by her side throughout the entire pregnancy. Her family moved out of the school district, which wasn’t uncommon back in 1968. I would drive every day after school out to her home and back again late each night. We knew from the onset that we would give the child up for adoption. We wanted the baby to have the best chance at life, and we were certainly in no position to offer that. We tried not to become emotionally attached, but from the moment the baby began to flutter, kick, and roll, we loved him.
The child was born on April 11, 1969. Marianne and I drifted apart within a year, simply because the memories were too painful, but she and I always remained friends. I kept up with her life, and she kept up with mine. She married and had her family (three boys), and I married and had my family (two boys). Neither of us kept any secrets from our families, including the children. All we knew was that we had a son, and that the people who adopted him were an older couple who had just lost a son in Vietnam. We carried this information in our hearts all those years, and we never once forgot his birthday. We never had any intention of interfering with his life, but the urge to connect with him was always strong.
In May 2001, it suddenly dawned on me that if his parents were old enough to have had a grown son back in 1969, there was a probable chance that one or both might now be deceased.
I had looked online before with no luck, but I figured it was time to try again.
After five hours of searching with no luck, I had just about come to the conclusion that it was never going to happen. There was one more site to check…Adoption.com.
I typed in his birthday and place of birth as I had done on all the other websites. I couldn’t believe the first message that came up. It was from our son. There was no doubt. The day, the place, the hospital, the circumstances surrounding the adoption…they all fit. And there was an email address. I was in complete shock.
My heart was in my throat. I immediately called Marianne and told her what I had found. She was in tears. I had written to the email address, but I had no idea how old the posting was. With the way people change email addresses, I had no idea if it was still valid.
Fortunately, the email address appeared to be a first initial and a last name. And the name was not a common one. As a matter-of-fact, I had never seen it before…Vieregge, so I did a people search on my computer. First name “T,” last name “Vieregge.” Then I typed in “Texas,” assuming that he might still be in the same state he was born in. And there it was…Terry Vieregge, living in the Dallas area (where he was born), and a phone number.
I called Marianne again. She was terrified but more than willing to make the call (she still lives in the Dallas area; I don’t). And Terry’s posting had specifically said that he was looking for his birth mother (once again, making the assumption that Dad is nowhere to be found).
Within ten minutes, I was on the phone with Brian, Marianne’s oldest son. It was confirmed; Terry and Marianne were speaking on another phone line. He had a phantom brother who had been killed in Vietnam. Brian was able to hook us up to a three-way call. So, with one call, Terry discovered that not only does he have a mother, but that it was his birth father who found him, and that he has five half-brothers and scores of other relatives.
We learned that his mother and father had both passed away before he had even graduated from high school, so he has been without family for literally half of his life.
Marianne and Terry met that night. It was another week before I could get to Dallas.
We have developed the most incredible relationship. It has almost been a year now. We see each other every chance we get. I am enjoying my daughter-in-law, Dawn, and my four grandkids: Kirstin, Ashlee, Dustin, and Victoria as well. What a miracle this has been. What an enormous blessing for us all.
Some of us Dads do care. We carry these ghosts of our children in our hearts forever. I know that the majority don’t. Their loss, not mine. I have found my son, and I will thank God and Adoption.com until the day I die for giving me a second chance to be the father now that I couldn’t be then!