Hi all,
I've written here before about my experiences in being contacted by my birth father at 25 years old, and our bumpy reunion. Over the past year and a half, we got to a good place, communicating fairly frequently: texting with birth father about once a week, give or take, and also interacting with his wife, who I have also started to grow close to after a rocky start. The contact process happened very quickly at first and there was the common fallout from that, but we have moved beyond that and have been enjoying getting to know each other, including visits a couple times a year (we live in different states). I have a very busy career that kept me completely overwhelmed during the latter part of 2015, but we otherwise made efforts to see each other and communicate regularly.
I visited birth dad and his family in March, staying there for a full week so that I could take more time to get to know and be comfortable with them. Too often with weekend or shorter visits, I would find the nerves and anxiety wearing off and some level of comfort being established right at the time the visit ended, so this week-long trip aimed to fix that issue. My birth dad has two younger kids with his ex-wife, and I also want to know them and have worked on developing that relationship in a way that feels natural and not too pushy (they're pre-teen and teen boy and girl, respectively).
The March visit was very tumultuous for birth dad and his wife (the kids' step-mom) because they're going through lots of ups and downs that I imagine come with raising adolescents in a blended family. It was good to spend time but everyone was a bit distracted and I felt a little like I was not wanted there by him all the time. His wife is warm and made me feel welcome, but the environment was a little up and down. Overall good, but I do remember he and his wife both apologizing that it hadn't been the "ideal" visit. No worries, I know how it goes.
I didn't hear from my birthdad after the visit at all, for over two months. No texts, nothing. I reached out to him after two months (swallowing my pride and fear that i had done something to make him angry, my confusion, etc.) and he didn't respond at first. I then texted his wife to ask if things were okay. She responded, and he responded to me shortly thereafter. He said it'd been "too long" since we'd talked and asked me how things were going, and we made small talk to catch up. That was mid-May.
I have, again, not heard from him since that one short text message conversation. Father's Day came and went, and I spent it with my dad who raised me (since I was 6 months old), and I did not reach out to or hear from my birth father. I heard from his wife once, when she texted me sort of out of the blue and said things were very hectic there but that I was on her mind. And I've also heard once from my half-sister who is 15, which has been really lovely. But nothing from birth dad, who, it seems to me, should be the one I'm in most contact with. In the past when I have mentioned I haven't heard from him in a while (usually then just a couple weeks), he points out that I haven't talked to him either, sort of putting the ball back in my court. And I do understand that the relationship has to develop by both of us reciprocating contact, but I can't help that feel like even though I am an adult, in this situation I am still very much the child, and he should be putting in the effort to maintain consistent contact or at least reach out when there has been some distance. It is so hard for me to continually put myself out there and make myself vulnerable, and this had brought up feelings of abandonment that I didn't really realize I had. I was raised in a two-parent household and didn't even know about my birth dad until I was 15, so I am fortunate, I didn't grow up feeling abandoned or without a father. I am very loved and incredibly well cared for by my parents. But now that I have invested in exploring a relationship with my birth father and his family, these ups and downs are really destructive and make me feel like the floor is always shifting and like it will somehow end up being "my fault" because I did something wrong, or I did too much, or I didn't do enough.
Has anyone else experienced this? I really don't know what to do next. It's entirely possible that they're just going through a lot there and that when things get hectic, I sort of drop from his priority list. But it isn't a good feeling, and I hate that I don't feel comfortable reaching out to him, but feel less nervous about texting his wife. I think that's probably just a difference in communication style, but I wish that I didn't feel so confused and I am genuinely interested in hearing suggestions about where to go from here.
I know the feeling deeply. I also made contact with my birth mother. She was more easier to reach than my birth father. But due to a childish ultimatum she gave me. Choose between Birth parents or Adoptive parents. so basically choose one and forget the other. Lame Right! Well in your case my suggestion is keep your doors open. When you feel abandonment hold your adoptive parents arms closer. I know how this rocky relationship feels like. Im now 28 and I met my birth mom when I was 19. I'm scared to even submit a consent of contact form to the adoption agency I was put up for adoption. I don't know if she still holds a grudge against me for not choosing her. As for my birth sister I feel like I let her down. when she fought her hardest so both of my birth parents can finally accept me. I chose my Older Birth brother she also placed for adoption over my birth parents. But my best advice is to you is Don't give up. keep on trying. If he quits don't shut your doors. Show him how forgiving you are. Maybe Son can show father if father isn't willing to show son his affection and devotion. I wish you luck and I hope your birth father comes around.
I don't know if what I say will be helpful. I am a birth mother, but I can only talk from my own experience. I found my bson when he was 31 almost 32 because he had registered on sometime before. We have been in reunion for 12 years now. Crystal, I'm so sorry your birth mom tried to issue an ultimatum; I can't imagine doing that to my son and I'm glad his aparents didn't do that to him either. My Bson and I had a lot of communication in the beginning, mostly by email and facebook. (I remember exchanging lots of photos.) We have settled into a comfortable relationship at this point and I must admit that I am more often on contact with his wife. He has told me over the years that I can call him anytime but I rarely do, mostly because even now I'm hesitant about intruding in his life. He has a growing family and a busy job and I never know what is a good time. He is most likely to text me on Mother's day or our (mutual) birthday, etc. I tend to send ecards, etc. We do talk occasionally and my husband and I recently spend a long week-end with them.
I have found over the years that in any relationship one person tends to be the initiator most of the time. I have some relationships where I seem to be the one who always calls and others where the other person usually contacts me. I'm not sure why that it, but very few of them are 50-50.
Sigonella, I hear your frustration. It doesn't sound to me like your bdad really wants to avoid speaking to you. You are probably on the money when you recognize that this seems to be a very stressful time in his life. I suggest that you contact him occasionally (send him a "Thinking of you card or note) so that he knows you do want him in your life. Mention that you'd love to hear from you or ask when a good time to call is. That puts the ball back in his court. Hopefully you will have a long term, life long relationship with him. Your siblings will grow out of adolescence; he and his wife will eventually be a different time in their life together.
I hope you can hang in there, because it sounds like you could develop a good relationship with your birth family. It just won't be as quick or as easy as you would like. I have a cousin who always, cries out, "this is hard, cuz" when life doesn't go the way she thinks it should. One thing I have learned in my life, and it's been 45 years since I entered the world of adoption, is that nothing about adoption is easy.
Kathy Kuehl
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