Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Forced to be a Father

The other day Dr. Phil did a show called Forced To Be a Father, about dads who feel tricked into fatherhood. The two guys on the show were very angry they have to pay child support because they say they feel no connection with these children they didn't intend to have. One was a guy in Michigan who says his girlfriend said she was using birth control, and couldn't get pregnant, so he didn't use a condom, and then, bingo! pregnant she was.

He wanted the mother to give up the child for adoption. She did not. So now he pays $500 a month. When asked how he felt about the child, he said that he felt no more connection than would a mother who gave up a child for adoption.

Well.

You can see that comments do not pick up on that remark, but let's join the party and hit that hard.

The other reluctant father was a family guy who found out two years after that the one night he spent with an ex resulted in a child, and a paternity test proved that he indeed was the father. He has two other young kids with his wife. The wife is quite bitter over the $350 a month in child support they pay, and this father also does not want to see his child. Feminist attorney Gloria Allred argued that these fathers are not taking the child into consideration, and, should they so choose, could ask for, or sue for, visitation rights. But neither of these guys were heading in that direction.

Maybe they will soften in time, as happened in the case of a friend who is the mother. She had given up her first born, and when she got pregnant unintentionally sixteen years later, she decided to have the child and raise him. As a single parent. The man's mother did act as a grandmother, and eventually the father came into the picture, has a good relationship with his son, and I believe, paid for his college education.

Back to Dr. Phil. The show ended on a huge upnote when the actor/comic Jay Thomas (the love interest of Candice Bergen on her old show) told of his warm relationship with a son who had been given up for adoption twenty years earlier. Thomas said that he was initially dubious when the son contacted him (the young man's first mother made the first phone call), but after talking to him agreed to see him in a public place. Thomas invited his son to a show he was doing, and asked his best friend to sit next to his son. The friend told him afterward that it had been like sitting next to you twenty years ago!

Within two weeks, Thomas said, the young man--who wants to be a singer, and has just done an album--was house sitting for them, knew his other two, much younger, kids (eight and six, as I recall) and ... all was well. All was, in fact, great! He has so much in common with his son! His wife said, let's not tell the kids yet, let's go to therapy and do it that way. But Thomas, at a two-for-one margarita night/afternoon where he happened to be with the oldest child, blurted out the truth, and as soon as the child got home, told his brother, and all beans were spilled. It all worked out well for everyone.

The truth shall set you free. If only more first mothers--if only all first mothers and fathers--acted on that. Secrecy is what keeps many first/birth mothers from having a relationship. They have been lying so long with their secret, they are afraid to let the air in. I imagine that if I had never told my husband that I'd had a child, and she contacted me, I would freak out. If I tell him now, my thinking would be, it's an admission that I have been lying by omission for more than twenty years.

Dr. Phil's show that day ended on such an upnote--the kid looks like Thomas, you could see how they were kidding around that they got along famously--and I can only assume that it would encourage more people either to have the courage to either search for their first parents, or accept into their lives the child relinquished.

It's well worth watching the show at the site above, and do post a comment about that stupid, uninformed comment from the guy who resents his child.

Be well, stay warm. We're switching from oil to gas (cleaner and eventually cheaper) and it's taken a month so far. The gas company was supposed to be here today...but no such luck. At least it hasn't been too cold. Yet. I'm wearing several layers and drinking hot water with lemon. Life is so much worse in so many places in the world. I think of Afghanistan,where I support a "sister" through Women for Women International.

--lorraine

3 comments :

  1. Umm, did someone force these men to have sex?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Umm, did someone force these men to have sex?

    Nope. No one forced millions of women who decide to unilaterally abandon their parental responsibilities via: abortion, adoption, or abandonment. But no one seems to have a problem letting them legally walk away from motherhood, and stick the taxpayers with the bill.

    Just another example of privleage princesses wanting to have their cake and eat it too. I guess walking away from responsibility only becomes a problem when men do it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am in the same situation. My son's dad was in and out of his life mainly do to a drug habit until he was 18 months old. I met someone new, moved away, but still stayed in contact. My new bf became dad. At the age of 4, my ex wanted to become a father again to my son and we explained to him that he has a dad and father who helped make him. We were planning on moving back near his real dad the next year. My son had an overnight stay and many day outing when we came to visit. Through the year we remained in contact. When it came time to finally moving back he cut off all connection. He all of a sudden wanted nothing to do with my son and especially me. Come to find out, he had married his then girlfriend and had a baby with her (he age 52 and her 28). And he took on her 3 kids from a previous relationship. When I found out about this I called him on it. He simply said he has a new family to take care of now.
    He insists on paying child support each month on time and will let me know if it's going to be late or if he is unemployed. I don't think I will ever understand why one who feels it's right to support a child financially feels that he dosn't physically need to be in the child's life and just walks away.

    ReplyDelete

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