This post is by Russ Elkins, the author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey. It is part of A Dad’s Devotion, a month-long series of original stories related to adoption, fatherhood and Father’s Day.
“The birthfather just arrived,” my wife said to me in a text message. “Don’t worry, you’ll like him. He’s really easy to talk to.”
When we were going through the adoption process for a second time I sat at home with our 17 month old son trying to get some work done. It wasn’t easy to check things off my To-Do list when my mind was at the hospital waiting for our daughter to be born.
Soon enough, I my phone rang and I knew it was time for baby’s arrival. I dropped everything I was doing, took my little boy to a friend’s house, and struggled to keep the speed limit all the way to the hospital.
I arrived with only seconds to spare before our little girl made her debut into the world, so there was no time for formal introductions yet. My wife and I had been meeting regularly with the birthmom over the last month, but the delivery room was the first time I came into contact with the birthfather.
The birthfather in our first adoption
The reason my wife sent me that particular text message telling me I would like him was because she knew I was dreading the thought of meeting him. The reason for that was because during our first adoption the birthfather completely stayed out of the whole adoption process until months after the courts had already terminated his rights. He caused a big stink to the extent that lawyers had to get involved. The only contact we ever had with him wasn’t very enjoyable.
So when I found myself standing next to the birthfather throughout the delivery, I was anything but excited for him to be there. Take a tiny leap forward in time to about an hour after our daughter was born and we found ourselves sitting in the lobby of the small hospital talking about guitars and music.
It turned out that we both had the same hobby- strumming our six strings and playing regularly in front of live audiences. It turned out that we actually had a lot more in common than playing instruments too. It turned out that he had no desire to throw a wrench into the adoption process like we had experienced with our first adoption. Most importantly, it turned out that he wanted to be a positive presence in our interestingly shaped family tree.
Take a larger leap forward in time and we found ourselves 5 hours away from our home on the doorstep of his college apartment. He had come to visit our home a few times, but now with our little girl a few months older we finally made our own way out to his neck of the woods where his parents and siblings were able to meet our little girl for the first time.
Our love for our daughter’s birthmother
I don’t know how it hadn’t completely sunk into me until that moment in time, but that visit with his family was when I first came to more fully realize the vast expanse of how far an adoption can reach. I began to see just how beautifully the experience can touch the lives of so many people.
With our first adoption, our vision of that concept was limited by a separation of 2,000 miles between the birth and adoptive families on top of the fact that the reach was limited only to the birthmother’s side since the birthfather’s side didn’t want to be part of our beautiful experience.
Time has only enhanced the love and joy we feel between us and our daughter’s birthfather. He was one of the first people to call my wife on Mother’s Day a few weeks ago just to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. It’s the little things like that that help us embrace the relationship we have.
Birthfathers are often and unfortunately pushed aside or left out of a lot of wonderful and loving experiences that can take place during an open adoption. I want to attest to the fact that birthfathers are amazing. I’m a little embarrassed that I went into our second adoption without that understanding, but I see it now and I couldn’t trade our experience for anything in the world. We love you, Birthdaddy.
Russ Elkins is an adoptive father, the author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey, a blogger, and runs the Open Adoption, Open Heart Facebook page.
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