Why We Think So Little About Birth Fathers
In conversations about adoption, we often talk about the adoptive parents and the birth mother, but rarely is there discussion about the birth father. In some instances, people refer to the birth parents collectively rather than the birth mother on her own, but more often than not the birth mother is considered a party to the adoption on her own.
Birth Mothers Play Primary Role in Pregnancy and Birth
There is a fixation on the mother/child relationship in society due to the physical aspect of pregnancy and birth. Since the birth parents’ role in adoption is primarily centered around the pregnancy and birth of the child, it seems logical that birth mothers are more talked about in the adoption process than birth fathers.
Additionally, children learn from a young age that babies grow inside the mother, so often adoptees fixate on their birth mother and look for their birth mother before their birth father.
A father’s role is less visible, but it doesn’t make it any easier for the father when placing their child for adoption. While we do not consider the father/child relationship in adoption nearly as often as the mother/child relationship, birth fathers might experience the same grief and feelings of sacrifice as the birth mother, when their child is adopted. Many birth fathers struggle to show their emotions and feelings during adoption because they feel it isn’t their place when the birth mother is so personally involved with the pregnancy.
It is important to include the birth father in the adoption journey if he is identifiable and wants to play a role. However, there may be some cases in which the birth parents’ relationship is complicated and the birth father may not have a legal right to be involved in the adoption decision.
In many cases of adoption, the birth father may be unknown. Most adoption agencies will at least make an attempt to find the father of the child, and inform him of the adoption and his rights before they proceed with the adoption process.
Birth Fathers Can Support Birth Mother and Benefit Adoptee
While the inclusion of a birth father in the adoption could be complicated if the birth parents don’t get along, there is the potential that his role in the adoption process could greatly support the birth mother. He could reassure her by respecting her choices and decisions and helping bear the burden of making those decisions and choices. He could also play a powerful role in making her voice heard and helping advocate for her when necessary.
Including the birth father in the adoption process can also benefit the adoptee. It is important for us to remember that children will understand they come from a mother and a father, and so adoptees might want to know their full origin story. The birth father can also fill out a social and medical history packet that gives the adoptee access to information that could be important to his health.
Birth fathers are left out of many adoption discussions, but they experience the loss of the child too and have the potential of playing an important role in the adoption process if given the chance.