Birth mothers aren’t often recognized for who they are in the adoption world. In the media, they are often painted as monsters who simply abandon their children because they don’t love them. For birth fathers, it’s even worse. For the most part, birth fathers are ignored or vilified, portrayed as abusive, or simply nonexistent.
For some birth fathers, this is true. Many birth mothers place because of an unhealthy or nonexistent relationship with the birth father. But not every adoption takes place due to the behavior of the biological father. They aren’t all simply “deadbeat dads.” There are many birth fathers that are just as amazing and selfless as the birth mother.
Mitchell* was sixteen when he and his girlfriend conceived a baby girl. He wanted to provide the best life he could for his daughter, and he knew his after-school job at the corner store wasn’t enough. He stayed with the mother of his child the whole pregnancy, and they made the decision to place their daughter together. He held her hand through labor and delivery, and together they placed their child into the arms of her new parents.
Mitchell grieved for his birth daughter just as much as the birth mother. He struggled with feelings of loss and often blamed himself. For many years he was ashamed of himself, wishing that he hadn’t put a girl he cared about through the pain of placing a child. He was sorry that he couldn’t provide for them and sad that he wasn’t mature enough to care for his child.
Seven years later, Mitchell has a wife and family of his own. He is very involved in the open-adoption relationship that he has with his birth daughter, and he gets along well with the birth mother when they see each other at family events. He has worked through his grief as best he can. He still misses her but believes that he did the best he could for his birth daughter.
Mitchell is just one of the many good birth fathers out there. I know several birth fathers personally that were actively involved in the decision to place their child. Most of these men had good relationships with the mothers of their children, and some of them are even married to them!
Birth fathers are not heartless. They are just as real and relevant as birth mothers. I have seen them laugh and cry about their birth children. I have seen them agonize over their decision to place. I have seen so many of them go on this journey without support. Post-placement counseling is hard to come by for birth mothers, and for birth fathers, it’s almost impossible.
If at all possible, birth dads should be a part of every open adoption relationship. It’s very likely that the adoptee will have just as many questions for their birth father as they do for their birth mother.
Birth fathers get a bad rap, but they’re not all the same. Not every birth father fits the stereotype of “some guy who couldn’t care less.” Every good birth father deserves recognition. He is just as much a part of the child as the birth mother. He has just as many feelings as she does. He is just as selfless and loving as she is.
*Names have been changed
Read the second part of the “Dads and Adoption Series.”