When we talk about open adoption, I’d bet 99% of openness centers around birth mothers. Most of the people I know don’t know their children’s birth fathers, either because the birth mother doesn’t know who he is, or because the birth father chose not to be a part of the open adoption.
My son’s birth father falls into the latter category. “George” opted not to be a part of the open adoption. At the time, according to “Sarah” (my son’s birth mother), he kept waffling as to whether he wanted to meet us. In the end, he showed up in the hospital lobby to sign his termination of parental rights, did not want us to come downstairs, did not want to meet our son, and would not allow Sarah to take a photo. We have no idea what he looks like, which means our son has no idea what he looks like.
Here’s where it gets tough to talk about George. There are details that no one other than my son needs to know. Without knowing those details, my readers aren’t going to get a complete picture. My feelings towards George used to be, simply, that he was a “jerk.” (I used a much nastier word, but this is a family site.) I trust Sarah and her depiction of him. That said, my son is insanely curious about him. He knows his birth mother, birth aunt, birth grandmother, and his (half) siblings on that side. He knows that I’m Facebook friends with his half sister’s father’s mother. But George isn’t on social media. I can’t even find an old MySpace page to get a picture of him. And that’s what my son wants—a picture. He wants to know what his birth father looks like.
The lawyer didn’t redact George’s Social Security Number or last known address from the legal documents. I could probably find him using my own mad internet skillz. I could definitely find him using a private investigator. However, George chose not to have anything to do with any of us. Does my son’s need to know his biological father’s roots trump George’s desire to be free? Frankly, I think that desire is selfish on George’s part. He’s no different than the countless men who walk away from their children. On the bright side, at least my son has a father who loves him and is here for him every day. Yet, my son is still sad from not knowing. Really, what’s a mother to do?
The few people I’ve told of my dilemma just don’t get it. They don’t understand why I would want to find this guy, especially when he clearly stated that he doesn’t want to be found. They don’t see my son’s frustration at not knowing who George is. They haven’t been at the pediatrician’s, having to cross out an entire side of health history, because we just don’t know. Not knowing anything about his birth father is, I believe, truly damaging to my son. So, on the one hand, I want to find this guy and say, “Give me a friggin’ picture!” On the other hand, I kind of never want anything to do with him. But clearly, my son does.
You can’t ignore birth fathers just because they aren’t present. My son has another father, one he’s never known. At times like these, I wish I could do something to change that.
At this time next year, remind me to tell you about my daughter’s birth father…