Our Daughter’s Birth Father: Rocky Beginnings Turned to Loving Connections (Part 2)

Nine years after her adoption, we were able to meet our daughter's birth father in person. It was amazing.

Candise Gilbert November 03, 2015
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Read the first part of our story here

For several years our communication continued. Major holidays were recognized with just-perfect packages and gifts. I have noticed something very fun in my adoption experience.  Eliza’s birth parents have the knack of sending the perfect gift—often something that would not have occurred to me to purchase, but they did, and sent it, and it was so well-loved! This had happened in the past with Eliza’s birth mother, and I was thrilled to see the same thing happen with her birth father and his wife. We had brief conversations about the things that she was interested in—but they chose gifts on their own and they have been perfect time and time again.

I would like to add that we were in communication with Eliza Jane’s birth mother throughout this entire process. She was one of the first phone calls we made when we initially heard from Liza’s birth father. As you may remember, we were terrified and somewhat upset. She was the complete opposite, which I’ll admit, was initially a little shocking. She was supportive of our communication and was grateful that we could begin to form a relationship. Of course, it didn’t take me long to understand her point of view and accept the fact that this was, indeed, the best thing for our daughter, and our family. We kept her in the loop as our communication increased. We never felt like we needed her permission, but we did hope for her blessing. We love her dearly and would never want to hurt our relationship with her. Wonderfully, she has been continually supportive and encouraging of our developing relationship.

I do have one regret in this process. We received a letter from Eliza’s birth father which I have no doubt took him considerable time, thought, and effort to write. In it he asked some heartfelt questions and was genuinely curious about Eliza’s perception of him and what she would like to know about him. I read this letter numerous times, and even wrote numerous replies. But I never sent them. They were too long, too sappy, too detailed, too cool, and I worried that I wasn’t portraying my thoughts and feelings well. I regret this. I feel bad that his letter went unanswered. I wish I would have sent any and every one of the drafts. Certainly they would have been better than nothing. Please learn from my mistake and never let a communication from one of your child’s birth parents go without reply. Call me and I’ll tell you that whatever you feel is insufficient might really be just right.

Despite our inability to write the “perfect” reply, our communication continued. The relationship progressed as many do these days: We emailed, and then became friends on social media.  I’ll admit when I saw the initial Instagram request from Liza’s birth father’s wife my heart skipped a beat. I wasn’t worried—I looked forward to increasing the frequency of our exposure to one another—but I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous.

A couple years passed and our relationship felt natural and comfortable. We talked on the phone and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to share some thoughts and feelings directly.

We all feel that though we will never be able to make the past “better,” we can have a fantastic future. I don’t believe it would be healthy or beneficial for us to rehash the specific events and happenings of the previous years.

After almost three years of communication via email, social media, text, and phone, we decided it was time to meet. We just knew the time was right. There were some that questioned our wisdom, and we appreciated the heartfelt, thoughtful advice, but we knew it was time.

We planned to meet in a town unique to both of us. Hotel reservations were made, along with loose plans for the days we would spend together. It was a long-awaited event, but I have to admit that in the days leading up to the weekend I was a bit of a wreck. What would I say? What would they think of us? How would they perceive our parenting? Would we have enough to talk about? Would the kids behave? The things that come out of nine-year-old’s mouths are unpredictable at best! What would Eliza Jane say?

I will say that the night before we left, I finally replied to his letter. I had to. I couldn’t stand the thought of meeting him with that undone. And you know, the letter came out perfect that time. I don’t know why it took me so long, or why I had try so many times. I finished the letter to him with tears streaming down my face. I was finally able to share some of my feelings. I finally wrote a letter that was “just right.” Perhaps it meant more to both of us than it would have months earlier. I’ll never know. But it was done and it felt good! It was the final preparation I needed to make.

We arrived at the hotel first; they joined us a short time later. Without sharing every detail of the weekend, I will say that it was an absolutely wonderful weekend. It was near perfect. We talked effortlessly. The kids hit it off immediately and were soon inseparable. We ate all sorts of terrible-for-you foods and enjoyed every bite. We stayed up later, talked longer, ate more, and laughed more than any of us anticipated.

I knew it was the right thing to do, and I knew I was excited to meet them. What I didn’t expect was that I would be completely in love with them. In no time at all, Eliza Jane’s birth father, his wife, and their son became people that I will love and treasure always. I think I had kept my heart guarded enough that I didn’t anticipate these feelings. The love I feel for Eliza Jane’s birth mother is deep. I met her during her pregnancy, I was present when she gave birth. Together we have watched our daughter grow. Despite the fact that our first meeting was when our daughter was 9 years old, I almost immediately felt all the same feelings for her birth father and his family. I loved them instantly and deeply—and that took me by surprise.

I knew my hard feelings towards them were gone, but this overwhelming love confirmed it. I couldn’t conjure up an ill feeling toward them right now if I tried. I know they aren’t perfect, and I know I’m not either. I know that our relationship will only get better. We share a love for a spunky nine-year-old and that love has allowed each of us to overlook the events of the past and move toward a fantastic place. It is a place of love, happiness, mutual respect and forgiveness. It is a testament to me that forgiveness is real, and that love can allow amazing things to happen between individuals that are willing to let go and look forward.

On that first day when my daughter said, “He’s gonna be good,” we had no idea just how correct that was. He is good: he’s amazing.  He has a wonderful wife by his side and an adorable son.  His name is commonplace in our home these days. Our daughter will grow up knowing the love of a birth mother a birth father, and all the people that come along with them. What was once bitterness and pain is now love and joy, and it’s only going to get better.

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Candise Gilbert

Candise is the mother of 2 darling girls and the wife of a fantastic husband. She became a mother through the miracle of adoption and parenting is her favorite job! She makes dinner every night, loves a good book, talks about adoption as often as she can, and tries to surround herself with fabulous people.


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