' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Fathers: Never too late to find your child

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers: Never too late to find your child

We set aside a day every year for children to honor their fathers. Although the day is co-oped by the likes of Hallmark, Sports Authority, Cabela's, it's still an important rite, enjoyed by families nationwide.

For children adopted as infants who do not know their natural fathers, it can be a day of sadness. Their fathers not only abandoned their mothers, justifiably many fathers would argue, but deserted their children as well. In fairness to these fathers, the patriarchal culture played a part. Sex is good for men, taboo for women, and if a girl got in trouble, well, it was her fault. Back when many of these children were born, the double standard was alive and well; remnants of it remain. Many men walked away, joined the Army, finished school, whatever. Even if they were inclined to do the right thing,
frequently their parents urged them not to marry "before they were ready" and asked--is this the right girl for you? Someone who "gave herself away" before marriage? Often the parent's strong influence prevented many a marriage that would have worked out. Others were too young or too powerless to stop the adoption machinery. And adopted children, regardless of the circumstance, may feel responsible for their abandonment, they weren't smart enough or good-looking enough or important enough to keep.

Of course there are the exceptions, not all natural father abdicated their responsibilities. As Lorraine notes in her new memoir/report, Hole In My Heart, it is estimated that in the decade between 1960 and 1970 more than a quarter of all children born to women between the ages of 15 and 29 were conceived before marriage. When I was in college in the 60's, I think about the girls were pregnant when they were married.

Father's Day is a good day for fathers to resolve to find their children and let them know they care enough to give them their best. These are their children, human beings, who look like them, share their personality and interests, not just a bit of DNA of no consequence.

I have met absent fathers who tell me they think of their lost children, and then add, "I don't want to interrupt their lives by showing up." To which I answer "You won't know until you show up. You owe it to your child to try."

Other men whine about how responding to their child's request to meet would upset their wife and other kids. Well, dammit, you cannot wish your child out of existence. You can't absolve your guilt for not helping your child's mother by denying your child. Until your child knows you, he is consigned to endless wondering, where did this or that trait come from, is that man over there my father?

Fathers may ask, "When is the right time to search?" There's never a right time--your appearance will send your child into a tailspin. There's never a bad time because your child will have answers at last. Waiting many mean never. Some adoptees fantasize more about their fathers than their mothers.

Some adoptees who seek their fathers are stymied because their mothers won't tell them his name. This is just plain wrong. Regardless of how painful it is, a mother must tell her child who his father is. If she doesn't know, she should tell what she does know. Better for the child to know the true story, the real man than merely fantasizing. I met an adoptee who was conceived through rape. His mother told him who his father was, as difficult as that must have been. She gave her blessing for him to visit his father who was serving a life sentence at the Oregon State Penitentiary for a series of rapes.

My daughter Rebecca has met her natural father as well as her half sister. From what I can tell, it has been a rewarding experience. Lorraine's daughter's father kept putting off when the right time would be, and then it was too late. He died in his sixties.

Now a caveat to fathers who read here.  Your child may not want to meet you. "I have a father" they may tell you, "I don't need another." Be patient. So many of us mothers have had to learn that too.--jane.
First Fathers Matter
Fathers: Are They Necessary?
When Daddy's Name is Donor...
Fathers Day 2010: Unmarried Fathers Who Fight for their Rights to be a Dad
A First Father's Story: Surrendering our child
Cont. : A First Father's Story: Search and Reunion
A First Father's Story: Surrendering our child (Final)

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
By Barack Obama
"Obama argues with himself on almost every page of this lively autobiographical conversation. He gets you to agree with him, and then he brings in a counternarrative that seems just as convincing. Son of a white American mother and of a black Kenyan father whom he never knew, Obama grew up mainly in Hawaii. After college, he worked for three years as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side. Then, finally, he went to Kenya, to find the world of his dead father, his "authentic" self. Will the truth set you free, Obama asks? Or will it disappoint? 

"Both, it seems. His search for himself as a black American is rooted in the particulars of his daily life; it also reads like a wry commentary about all of us. He dismisses stereotypes of the "tragic mulatto" and then shows how much we are all caught between messy contradictions and disparate communities. He discovers that Kenya has 400 different tribes, each of them with stereotypes of the others. Obama is candid about racism and poverty and corruption, in Chicago and in Kenya. Yet he does find community and authenticity, not in any romantic cliche{‚}, but with "honest, decent men and women who have attainable ambitions and the determination to see them through."--Booklist


  1. I'd have loved to meet my father just once, but he didn't even have the spine to talk to me directly, just once. His wife gave me some information and pushed me off. THAT is the family that I physically resemble. THAT is the family where I have half-siblings and living grandparents, but it's pretty clear I'm not a welcome addition.

    At least in the balance, my first mother's family is wonderful and welcoming. But again, you just can't substitute one family for another.

  2. I was troubled by the blanket insinuation that all adoptees' fathers abdicated their responsibilities. The only fathers you let off the hook are those who married the mothers.

    I realize many fathers ran, but mine did not. He asked my mother to marry him. My mother, with a strong push from my grandparents, is the one who chose adoption. My father tried to talk my mother out of the adoption. He went to the maternity home, but he wasn't let inside because he wasn't on the list.

    1. I noted that some fathers were too young or too powerless to stop the adoption machine. This includes fathers like yours.

  3. First fathers are so often left out of the conversation. Many were brushed aside by parents once they found out their daughters were pregnant. Even if they wanted to marry parents wouldn't hear of it. Powerless is a perfect word. It is so hard for people to understand how truly powerless we were. I can't believe it myself & I lives it. My sons father did not want to marry me but he didn't run. He called and wrote while I was away at the maternity home. He was as young and scared as I was.
    I think it was the third time my son & I talked on the phone that he asked who his father was. I gladly gave him his name & number. They were never able to form any kind of relationship. Two things got in the way I think. They are so much alike it is painful & my sons father has never told anyone about him. He has been married 3 times & has 3 other children and has never told anyone. I know this really bothered my son. As Jane says it isn't to late, yet. I hope my sons father tries harder next time around.

  4. There are also fathers who were not told at all about the pregnancy. My father was in his late 20's and had a degree and a job. He was not married; he might have proposed, he may not have. But he certainly would have liked the chance to raise me. It was not the case of rape. It was the case of my mother making a choice to cut him out after their relationship ended. She was also not a powerless teen, but in her 20's.

    I feel for her, having to deal with a pregnancy that she did not want. She also chose to do that alone, telling no one and finishing her degree a week before my birth. She is strong willed, I have found that. I admire her strength, but I have also been subject to her anger and capriciousness, and I imagine that my father was also at some point in her sights. She still clearly is very angry with him, decades later, for whatever happened.

    We cannot undo the past, but I find the entire story terribly sad. I lost out on knowing my father, who died before I could meet him. My mother has ended our relationship because I found him. The punishments keep coming.

  5. The word powerless accurately describes how many of us were and rightfully felt. When my boyfriend, now husband, told his parents I was pregnant, he was slapped and yelled at. Needless to say, they refused to allow him to marry me as their signature was required at the time in the state of New York.

  6. My "First Father," apparently was going to marry my first mother, had the blood tests done then took off. My first mother left me in foster care to supposedly find him and moved to California, Florida then met her 3rd husband and tried to find me. I was 7 and already adopted. She could not find me. Was I better off? Who knows? I had a decent life and call my adoptive parents mom and dad, because thats who they were.


  7. When I first got pregnant "adults" decided we were to young. That decision not only lead to me losing my baby but my baby's dad's death in Nam. So much for parents making good decisions. The decision should have been left to me as mother. I wanted my baby. But others had more sinister ideas. People that were involved in my life through marriage. One that wanted to punish me.

  8. My daughter's father did not take off - in fact, he went to Job Corps in Oregon to learn a trade so that he could support us. Social services, Arizona, my social worker and my parents decided that they would interfere. He never stood a chance and I was too young and too stupid to understand what was going on. He died on Sept. 10, 1985 - the day before his 25th birthday - and was buried on Sept. 15, 1985. He never met his daughter after age 2.... He loved me, he loved her and he was a good guy. Not all fathers run, some are run off!

  9. You weren't stupid, Lori, you were just young. Many of us do things against our better judgment (which can flower very early) in a vain attempt to please those older people who control our lives, frequently not to our benefit.

    I wept a little weep for Lori and for Mother (above)... Sometimes my childhood wishes to reach back into the past and change the outcome seems more sensible than what really happened...



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