This is a point of view from a birthfather and a point of view from his birthdaughter/adoptee!! It is an awesome story and I am so glad to be able to share it!!
I know most of the stories presented here are from the views of birthmothers. I would like to share my own adoption story, and perhaps speak to the hearts of the “other group”, the birthfathers.
When I was quite young I met a girl of similar age at a local hang out where all the neighborhood kids and their friends would meet up. Without going into too much detail, she and I did what many unwise teenagers do during the summer. For one reason or another, she and I did not speak to one another after that particular summer day, but once the school year started it was pretty much common knowledge she was pregnant. At first I shrugged the news off as rumors, but a phone call from the young girls mother to my mother made reality come crashing down. I was absolutely terrified. Nothing in my young life could have prepared me for what that phone call meant. The confusion and fear that engulfed me was probably nothing compared to what she was feeling. Nevertheless, two kids had a very adult decision to make. Abortion was never considered, both our families had strong convictions against it. After much discussion with my family and what I’m sure was much discussion with hers, we knew that the best decision for our baby was adoption.
The most perfect, precious, loving, and adorable baby girl was born on Valentine’s Day, 1995. This is the part of the story I hate telling and something I struggle to understand to this day: I was not there to see her on her birthday, in fact I was not there when she was handed off. The adoptive parents were en-route to pick up their baby daughter but would not be at the hospital until the following day. I am forever in awe by the courage and selflessness of the young birth mother. She had the unenviable task of holding, kissing, and cuddling that wonderful little girl for an entire day before handing her to her parents. But the day came when she was given to her family and I would later find out given a picture perfect home across the country.
Now to what I consider the good part! Not long after she was born, I moved away from my then hometown and had ample time to do some soul searching. This girl whom I had never met had already begun to change my life and consume my thoughts. For the next fifteen years I began to grow as a man and with that grew a desire to know the daughter I never had. In that span of time, I completed college and had gotten married to my high school sweetheart. Also during that time, a little girl began to occupy more and more of my thoughts and take a deeper residence in my heart. I had to find her, if nothing else to convince myself that I tried. My wife, being the most amazing woman that she is, was 100% behind me and spent many of her free hours right beside me helping me find a missing part of my life. After much digging and lots of hours logged on a computer…..there she was. There, on the screen, was my face smiling back at me. To say it was a magical moment would not begin to give it proper credit. One picture took fifteen years of weight off my chest and allowed me to finally breathe. I was ecstatic. My wife was so happy for me, but she knew I wasn’t satisfied with just a picture. She helped me find her address and write a letter to her parents. The letter itself was only four paragraphs long but took two weeks to write. When I finally built up the courage to stamp the envelope and raise the flag on my mailbox, all that was left was for me to wait and pray for the best.
A few days passed after the letter was sent when I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number. In my heart I knew exactly who was calling. At the time I was attending a lecture but I ran out of the classroom anyway into the courtyard and nervously answered my phone. It was her mother and she was interested in seeing some pictures of me and getting to know more about me. I could not drive home fast enough! My wife was elated at the news and she and I scurried though every picture we had on our computer until we found the ones we wanted to send. When I woke up the next morning, her mother had replied to my email with pictures of her own and a message saying her daughter would be interested in speaking with me. The following Sunday was the day of the phone call and I was a nervous wreck. It is difficult enough to meet somebody for the first time over the phone, but coupled with WHOM I was about to be introduced with and one can imagine the size of the butterflies swirling around my stomach. When the call came her mother, father, and of course her were all on the opposite end of the phone. It took all of five minutes for this family I had never met to make me feel like I belonged. We spoke for hours but it only felt like minutes and for a brief moment in time I felt at peace. When the conversation ended, everyone wanted to know how it went. I was more than happy repeating the story several different times because it allowed me to relive the happiest phone conversation I had ever had. Over the next several weeks, she and I began exchanging emails and the phone calls became more frequent. One might think it would be challenging for a grown man to find common ground with a fifteen year old girl, but as the communication between her and I grew so did an invisible yet undeniable bond. With each new email and each additional phone call, the topics began to morph from favorite foods to life aspirations. Eventually, she and I would play a game at the end of every email where we would prod each other with specific questions trying to uncover a new similarity we both shared. Life was fantastic for me during this time, but there was one thing I had been denied fifteen years ago that I could not be truly at peace with the situation until it happened: I had to physically hold her.
About two months after the letter had been sent, my wife and I found an opening in our schedules that would allow us to fly across the country to meet her. Graciously, her parents were more than open to the idea, even to the point of offering their home for my wife and I to stay. Once the tickets were purchased and the arrangements made, I had a length of restless nights knowing I was days away from meeting my missing part and the family who gave a little girl the life I simply could not. We arrived at their home early one December afternoon while she was being let out of school. At this time I had literally not slept for 36 hours but was wide awake. The woman who had spent the last decade and a half raising her and instilling values and morals into her greeted me at the door. This was the first in a series of speechless moments. What do you say to her, thank you just simply is not sufficient? She and I embraced for a moment, had a few private words, and we all sat on the couch chatting until she came home from school. Shortly into our conversation, a car pulled up next to the house, stopped, and a door was heard shutting. Her mother looked at me, got up from her chair, and went to the door. I stood from my seat in a daze and proceeded to live the longest ten seconds of my life. The door opened and there entered the most amazing being I had ever seen. A perfect fifteen-year-old angel ran towards me, put her arms around me, and gave me the gift I had been denied in my youth.
That night, and the remainder of our trip for that matter, her mother and father treated my wife and I like we were long lost family. We spent the few days we had together getting to know each other, watching family videos, playing games, being tourists, introducing ourselves to her immediate family, and even going to one of her Christmas recitals (she is a fabulous violin player). Much of my time was spent just gazing at her in amazement and studying every feature on her face. Every minute spent with her and her family I could feel myself getting more entwined with them and becoming a little bigger part of her life. Unfortunately, the day came when this chapter of the fairy tale had to end and my wife and I returned to reality.
After we returned home she and I continued to talk everyday through emails, texts, and facebook. For Christmas my wife bought me a web cam and every so often I’m able to actually see her. That spring our relationship flourished and grew well beyond inquisitive exchanges and into something much more. One afternoon, during a seemingly average conversation about each others day something extraordinary happened, something I could have never planned for or never even wished for. She told me she loved me. The means of how the conversation got to that point are kind of funny but ultimately unimportant. The important thing is those three simple words came from her mouth, were genuine, and directed at me! There is nothing that can prepare you for the warmth and happiness that overcomes your body when you hear those words from someone you hold so highly and care for so much. Everything came full circle for me at that moment, I had loved her for all these years and now she was beginning to know it and develop feelings of her own towards me.
At the beginning of the summer I decided to make another trip to see her and her family. In between the first trip and now she had started speaking with my father and stepmother and they decided to join me on this trip because they wanted to meet everyone too. One might think that all the magic would be gone since this was the second trip, but one would be very wrong. The minute we arrived at her house she came darting outside hugging everyone like she hadn’t seen us in years. That particular trip was so full of what she and I now refer to as “Disney Moments” that I would be challenged to list half of them. We had built a relationship for months and this time we knew each other. We were comfortable enough with each other that we could talk about anything and there were more than a few cherished occasions we would just embrace each other and absorb the moment. Leaving her for the second time was infinitely harder than the first. She and her mother followed us to the airport and we had a long cry together when it was time to board the plane. I left that trip knowing I was special to her and her family.
Since that most recent trip, she and I continue to build our storybook relationship. We communicate in some form or another daily and it’s not uncommon for me to talk with her parents just because. Not long after my wife and I returned home from our initial trip, we discovered she was pregnant. For various reasons we both wanted a little girl and we recently found out that the Lord is deciding to bless us with just that. The time I have spent with my daughter and her family has taught me many lessons on what it means to be a man and a father. I will forever cherish what they have given me and what they continue to show me. The fact that I am able to build this wonderful relationship with the baby I put up for adoption so many years ago is nothing short of a blessing and I wish my story gives hope to other birthfathers who have that same desire I had to know the missing piece of their lives. If I had to give one bit of comfort to other birthfathers reading my story it would be this: For a very brief moment in time I was that precious little girls father, and it was my duty as her father, just as it is with any father, to ensure my daughter had a better life than I had. I did that.
I have always known I was adopted. I don’t ever remember a time where I was sat down and suddenly told some life-altering news about where I came from. I have always loved that piece of myself, and always been very comfortable in my adopted “skin.” I have also always been incredibly open about my being adopted. I love sharing my story, especially recently, and it’s something that so much defines me, that it’s impossible for me to really hide. I have never been bothered or frustrated with the fact that I am adopted. It has never been something that I “regret.” I know I am where I should be, and the ALL of the people in my life are supposed to be. I also hold a very deep respect and admiration for birth parents. Mine are my heroes. They are people that mean such a massive amount to me I could never put it into words. Through their decision they have given me everything. And for at least that, I will always have a love for them.
When I was younger the knowledge I had of my birthparents was very minimal. I knew my birthmother’s name, had a couple dated pictures of her, and had little bits of information she told my parents before I was born or what was simply here-say received throughout my life. I knew only my birthfather’s name. I always had a deep curiosity and desire to know both of them. To be honest, I didn’t really believe that would be a possibility for me though. And I was scared. I was afraid of what I would find, how I would feel, what my parents would think, and of rejection.
I was also afraid of discovering that my worries would become reality. My biggest fear was that I was just a mistake. Being the physical manifestation of what others label as someone’s “mistake” is at times hard to take. It’s easy to start feeling like I am the mistake. I am the only tangible thing that came from that. I worried that my birthparents would see me in the same light. That putting me up for adoption would be an easy way to “make it go away.” This is the absolute farthest thing from the truth, but on a bad day those thoughts would easily find their way into my perception of the truth. Guilt was another one of my weaknesses. I know that birthparents go through A LOT. I know that it is by no means easy. But who am I to have someone go through that in my behalf? What makes me “worth” that? I don’t deserve to have “made” someone live with that for the rest of forever. And I care about my birthparents, I really really care about them and I don’t want to see them hurt, or having a hard time. And I knew, if I really thought about it, that all of these “fears” weren’t logical or correct, but they were still things I had to deal with from time to time.
I had known that my birth parents were young, and that in very simple terms, that was one of the reasons I had been put up for adoption. But when I reached that age myself I began to really respect what they had done. I wasn’t ready to even think about a baby, have responsibilities half that big, make decisions that difficult, or deal with emotions that hard. That is when I really began to fully respect my birth parent’s decision. That is also the time that my birthfather came back into my life. When my mom sat me down and pulled out a letter, I knew exactly what the nature of it was going to be. But when she read the line “I believe to be her birthfather,” my jaw hit the floor. I knew so little about him that I didn’t think I would ever get this opportunity. But I couldn’t have been happier.
When I looked at those first pictures, I saw my face staring back at me. I saw the same weathered creases under matching rich, hazel eyes. I saw my smile and high cheek bones. I struggle with self confidence like any other teenage girl, but at that moment I could look in the mirror and for the very first time see some glimpse of beautiful. I was no longer an alien, or the only kind, or different, or unexplained, or incomparable. I know where I came from, and I actually look exactly like someone. Someone I REALLY love. And that was the best confidence-builder, affirmation, or approval I could have ever received.
A few days after receiving the letter, we decided to talk on the phone for the first time. I had butterflies in my stomach all day, and there was no way to prepare myself to talk to my birth father for the first time. There is no manual out there; I just had to do it. And there it was, that deep, comforting voice touched by that accent I have always loved. Immediately, my worry was gone. And the more we talked with him, the more I realized how strikingly similar we were as people. From the way we think and worry, to our distaste in some foods and our favorite subject in school, we were relatable in almost every single way. That was the first spark to what made us spread like wild fire.
I worried about how my parents would feel. I worried they would feel threatened or like they were loosing me. But I tried my best to make sure that they knew otherwise, and truly, it has turned out to be a hugely positive experience for all of us. Adoption is an intricate balance between being steadfast and being open-minded, understanding and loving. That balance was easy for me to find and the closer I got to my birthfather, the better person I became. One of my favorite quotes is very cliché, but I think so simply beautiful, “you can’t find peace until you find all the pieces.” That is so much my reality. I needed to know where I came from, I needed to know I was loved, and I needed to understand my origins. I have lived the lives of both a closed and open adoption. I have found that for myself, knowing and loving who I came from, has brought so much peace and maturity to me as a person.
I have heard a lot of ignorant comments throughout my life, especially now that my story is more tangible and realistic. But one thing those unknowledgeable people have made me realize, makes me a stronger person. No one else can understand how it feels to be three inches taller than all of your other girl cousins, no one else can understand what it feels like to constantly wonder where a quirk or trait comes from, no one else can understand what it’s like to deal with harsh comments that are directed at one of the most important things to you. BUT, NO one else knows what if feels like to be loved so unselfishly by so many people, NO one else knows what it feels like to truly understand the pure love that your parent who has raised you all your life has given you, and NO one else knows what it feels like to be accepted with wide open arms and full hearts into a family that made it seem like you were never gone. Absolutely NO one else really enjoys those things. And all of those can outweigh any “negative” comment someone else may throw at me. And it most definitely outweighs any of the things that may make an adoptee feel like an outsider. Bringing my birthfather into my life made me truly understand who I really am. Now I love being three inches taller, and I love my unique traits, because I know where they came from. They make me….me.
Over the time we have been able to have a relationship, my birthfather and I have grown closer than I thought we could possibly be. Who he is to me means so much more than what others assume. And I love that man. I LOVE him. I have had the chance to be with him in person twice now. The first time I ever saw him we embraced and just sobbed. Sobbed in each our own way, but still sobbed. It was like a movie. I didn’t know things could happen so picturesquely outside of a movie set. It was absolutely perfect. It seems like that’s how the whole thing has been. Perfect. To say we get along makes it sound juvenile. We are two people with an undeniable, deep connection. This “invisible thread” that constantly keeps us together. Not even a world’s distance can stretch it. And we will always be that way. I can’t imagine my life without him now, because I needed it. I needed to know everything about myself.
Adoption is beautiful. It has made me become what I think is a full, mature, and understanding human being. My birthfather finding me is beautiful. It made me see more than just the one-sided version of myself. The amount of love coming at me from two different kinds of parents is beautiful. How much I care about all of these people is beautiful. And the selfless heroism that is birthparents, my birthparents-is beautiful.