One of the members of the adoption triad that is least discussed is the birth father. The birth mother gets most of the attention, rightfully so. Birth fathers are often thought of as little more than a sperm donor, and there is not a lot of support or care for the birth fathers. Some of the reasons for this include the fact that many birth mothers do not list a birth father on birth certificates. Sometimes birth mothers don’t know who the father is, and other times they don’t want the father to know about his child. So, some men are fathers without even knowing it. The other spectrum is that some birth fathers are aware that they impregnated someone, but they left the birth mother and child. These birth fathers were not ready or did not want to be a father.
These scenarios are focused on the typical and not-very-positive examples of birth fathers. These stereotypes do not hold true for all birth fathers, though. Some birth fathers would love to be involved in the process. Some expectant fathers would like to raise the child on their own or would like to have further interactions after birth. Some know that they can’t raise their child, but want to be involved in the process of selecting a family to place their child in through adoption. The idea that all birth fathers don’t care what happens to the child is false. There are birth fathers who care a lot.
I write this article for the birth fathers who care about their child now and to all birth fathers who will grow to care in the future. Birth fathers are a part of every adoption story and we need to find ways to honor them. Below are some gift ideas and other ways to honor a birth father. Since each situation is unique, the ideas have been divided up into the different stages of the relationship adoptees or adoptive parents have with the birth father. I hope that as you read, you will be inspired to find ways to honor the birth fathers you know.
New Birth Fathers
Framed baby picture and footprint
This gift is something that a new birth father would appreciate. He would love a beautiful photo of his child next to a footprint from that child. Plus, a baby picture next to a teenage footprint just isn’t as cute. A newborn’s footprint next to his or her baby picture is one of the cutest things in the world.
This framed picture could include the simple phrase, “Thank you for blessing our lives with [insert child’s name here].” This gift can be a continual reminder to the father that his child is with loving people who are so grateful to him for his sacrifice. It can also allow him a piece of the child to remember and cherish forever.
Semi-open or Open Adoption Birth Fathers
Pictures and updates
If the birth father is part of a semi-open or open adoption, then a card with pictures and updates on his child would be a great way to honor him. He would love to see how happy his child is and what he or she is involved in. If you are the adoptive parents, a simple thank you for the blessing of adopting this child, included with pictures, would honor the birth father.
If you are the adoptee, you can add a simple handwritten note letting your birth father know how you are doing. It is a blessing for a birth father to receive updates and learn more about how his child is doing. It also gives him the opportunity to share news about his child with his own family.
Visits or video chats
The nice thing about open adoptions is that the birth family, adoptee, and adoptive family stay in communication. Sometimes the relationship is close enough that the adoptee can visit with or video chat with the birth family. Visiting the birth father or at least having a video chat or phone call with him on Father’s day would be a great way to honor him and show him that you are thinking about him. This kind gesture is greatly appreciated by any father, and birth fathers are not any different. They would love to hear from their child.
Birth Fathers Found Later
Scrapbook through the ages
Sometimes birth fathers don’t learn about their child until he or she is an adult. The birth father may have been left off the birth certificate or was unaware of the pregnancy. Other birth fathers chose not to be involved in the pregnancy or child’s life. Sometimes the birth father made that choice because he was young or in a difficult life situation. Other times the birth father had no interest in being a father.
Over time, these fathers may or may not change their minds. Whatever happened or whatever the reason for the separation, there are adoptees who spend at least their first 18 years not knowing their birth father. To read some personal stories that birth fathers posted about these scenarios, check out this forum page from Adoption.com.
Any time after they turn 18 (and sometimes earlier), adoptees can find their adoptive fathers. This may take years if no father is listed on the birth certificate. The adoptee may even have to complete a DNA test and hope for a relative match in that way. I know someone who was able to find her father through a DNA test that matched a close relative. She was able to meet him and it ended up being a good meeting. He wanted to know her and be a part of her life in whatever way she wanted.
Not every reunion with a birth father is pleasant because some birth fathers really do not want to know their offspring, but some reunions are truly joyful.
Once a birth father is found, a great gift idea for him on Father’s day is to create a scrapbook of the birth father’s child through the years. That way, the birth father can have a glimpse of his child’s life and learn more about him or her. The child and birth father can talk about what was happening in their lives while they were apart and they can get to know each other better. Not every birth father would appreciate this, but there are birth fathers who wish they could be there through the years and want to know more about their child. Those birth fathers would love a scrapbook that showed their child through the years growing up.
I wanted to help you in this endeavor, so here are some possible things that you could put in the scrapbook:
- A picture from every year of the child’s life
- Family pictures with the adoptive family
- Pictures of any pets that the child owned over the years
- Information about the child’s favorite colors, sports, movies, books, etc.
- Information about any hobbies, talents, etc.
These are just a few ideas of things to include in the scrapbook. There are so many more.
All Birth Fathers
Pocket watch with birth date engraved
Many birth fathers would love the keepsake of a pocket watch that has the birth date of his child engraved on it. The watch can serve as a thank-you from adoptive parents to the birth father for allowing them the precious gift of adopting his biological child. The child’s birthdate is a precious day for adoptive parents, and this gift can serve as a reminder to the father that his child is with someone who loves him or her. The watch will show some of the gratitude the adoptive family feels. It is not as good a gift as the one they received, but it is a nice gesture.
Ring with birthdate engraved inside
Not all birth fathers would appreciate a pocket watch because every person is different. However, some of them would appreciate a ring with their child’s birth date and/or name engraved inside. The ring would hold a similar sentiment as the pocket watch. It can serve as a reminder to the birth father from the adoptive parents that they are grateful to him for allowing them to adopt his biological child. Of course, an adoptee can also give a ring to his or her birth father to show his or her love for him.
Father’s questionnaire booklet
Almost every adoptee would love to learn more about their birth father. The adoptee has a lot of questions about what his or her birth father was like as a child, any family history of illness, and just about anything else. An adoptee or an adoptive family can give a birth father a book of questions to answer. Showing interest in the birth father, his life, and his interests is a great way to honor him. It is also a great way to learn more about him.
Here are some ideas questions that the questionnaire can include:
- Where were you born?
- What was your family life like growing up?
- What did you look like as a baby and as an adult? (You could include pages for pictures of the birth father.)
- How did you meet my birth mother and what was your relationship like?
- What were you like as a child?
- What are your favorite sports, colors, movies, books, and hobbies?
- Do you know of any illnesses in your family that are genetic?
- What do you do for a living?
- What have you been doing in the years since my birth?
- What are some of your habits or personality traits?
These questions can give the adoptee some insight into where he or she gets certain traits from. It can help him or her to have a greater sense of identity to know more about his or her biological history. Knowing where they came from is important to adoptees and learning more about a birth father is a great way to improve that knowledge. It is also a great way to show your birth father you care enough about him to get to know him.
Remembering birth father
Some birth fathers have already passed away or are not a good influence for their children that were adopted. In cases like this where contact is not possible, then remembering the good things you have learned about the birth father is a great way to honor him. The adoptive family or adoptee can record the positive experiences they’ve had with the birth father, or they can learn more about the birth father from other biological relatives. Simply remembering them so that they are not forgotten from the world is a great gift.
This idea reminds me of the Disney movie Coco. During the movie, the main character Miguel is trying to find his long-lost grandfather. His grandfather is disappearing from the afterlife because only his aging daughter remembers him. While birth fathers will not necessarily disappear from the earth or the afterworld if we don’t remember them, I do believe that they will feel the extra support our thoughts will bring to them. If nothing else, the good thoughts will be fulfilling and positive in our own life.
This is similar to the last idea, but a little different. Not every birth father is known. Some adoptees will spend the rest of their lives not knowing their birth fathers. That challenge makes it difficult to remember them. It can also cause some confusion and frustration for adoptees who want to know where they came from biologically. However, every adoptee and every adoptive family can simply say grateful thoughts aloud about the birth father. “Thank you for providing the sperm that gave me life” is something an adoptee can say. An adoptive family can say, “Thank you birth father, wherever you are, for providing half of the necessary parts that created our child. We are so grateful for the child that you made.”
These grateful thoughts will honor the very small part that the birth father played in the adoption triad. It will also provide a positive experience for those who are willing to express gratitude for the unknown birth father. I truly believe that the more positive thoughts and energy you put into the world, the more that you experience in yourself.
Now that we have gone over various ways to honor birth fathers, I hope that you take the time to participate in one of the ideas or come up with your own. I hope that birth fathers will start to speak up about their experiences, and that in the coming years, we will gain more insight into their sacrifices and love for their children.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.