The birth father is often forgotten in discussing the adoption process. Including them can be a great opportunity for those involved.

Remembering the Father in Adoption

When my son’s birth mother, J, first contacted us about adopting her child, she was unsure about what the expectant father, S, was thinking and feeling. She had told him her plan to place their son for adoption and she worried that he might not be on board with her plan. She tried to convince him that it was the right thing for the baby and for both of them. She called us one time about a month before the baby’s due date thinking that he would put up a fight about the adoption. She did not know how to talk to him about adoption and how to explain that she was feeling it was the best thing for the baby. We sent him an email to introduce ourselves to him. We wanted him to know that we were normal. Up until the birth, she was a little anxious about how he was feeling and what would happen after the baby’s birth. 

We got the call that the baby would be born. We flew to their state with the hope to meet S and help him move forward with the adoption plan that J had made. The day after the baby was born, my husband and I met S for the first time. He had come to the hospital to meet his son. He came up to the room and held Lucas for the first time. We were also in the hospital room and wanted to talk with S. We asked the nurses for a room that we could go in for some privacy. We had a great discussion with him while he held the baby. My husband, Ryan, felt an immediate connection with S. They bonded and joked together. Even though they were 10 years apart, they found common ground. They chatted about football and if the Seahawks or Vikings were going to be good that year. They talked about the sports they both played in high school and what they thought the baby would grow up liking. Ryan told S about how when he was 24, he had cancer. Because of the cancer and the treatments that he endured, he was unable to have biological children. Ryan shared that before we were married, we talked about adoption. He had always wanted to be a father. He had even thought about adoption when he was a teenager. Ryan knew that was odd, but maybe God helped put that in his mind so that later down the road he would be ready to accept that. 

We all felt comfortable around each other. It was easy to talk and we had a great conversation. We wanted him to know that we wanted an open adoption. S had not thought that an open adoption was an option and he was happy to hear that we wanted him to be in his son’s life. This was touching to him. He had been influenced by his family to question the adoption plan, but he thought that it might be the best option for him and the baby to place him for adoption. With J’s permission, S invited his mom and brother to come to the hospital later that day. It was an emotional time for his mom meeting her first grandson. She knew that adoption was the plan and she thought that she was saying hello and goodbye at the same time. We had a conversation about open adoption with her as well. She seemed very relieved that it was something that we all wanted. Even though my son’s birth parents were no longer together, we wanted to include them individually in his life. It has been one of the greatest blessings to have a relationship with both of them and their families.

My husband holding my son, standing next to my son's birth father

Over the next several days and before we left the state, we were introduced to more of S’s family. They welcomed us into their family with open arms. We went to breakfast with them and met siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They saw the blessings that would come from an open adoption. His mom wanted pictures with each member of the family. She made sure to get pictures of her smiling because she had been crying in the hospital. 

S had not talked to a caseworker, but we had talked to him about the adoption. After meeting us, he was confident that adoption was the right decision. We informed him of the day and time that the adoption papers would be signed. He was ready to commit to the adoption. When the adoption finalization papers were signed 72 hours after the birth, Ryan was the witness as S signed the relinquishment papers. He felt peace about the decision to place his baby. 

When we returned home, I made an adoption storybook for Lucas. It included several pictures of his birth parents. I had even asked for their baby pictures to include. It tells their story and their decision to place him for adoption. It was a way for Lucas to know the story and know that he was always loved and the adoption plan was what they thought was best for him. Even though we live several states away, we try to make regular visits. Before he turned a year old, we returned and met even more family members. It felt like a family reunion for us. We were so happy to have this family to support and love Lucas. We celebrated our son’s second birthday at Chuck E. Cheese with S and his family. S gave him a giant dump truck that we had to fit in our suitcase to get back home! Our son, Lucas, is now 10 years old. He has been the ring bearer in S’s sister’s wedding and then in S’s wedding too. We have adopted two more sons and Grandma D (S’s mom) sends them Christmas presents as well. Lucas loves all the love that he gets from his birth family. He has pictures of him with his birth mom and birth father on his dresser. We regularly talk about them. It is a great way for our son to grow up knowing how many people love and care about him.

My son and his birth father at his birth father's wedding

When my husband and I first started seriously considering adoption, we attended some adoption conferences. It was a great way to learn more about adoption and connect with others who had already adopted. We listened to a couple of panels of birth parents talk about their experiences. They were each asked questions about what adoption meant to them and how they chose adoption. It helped us recognize that birth fathers were an important part of the adoption. There is a lot of information for and about birth mothers, but not as much information for birth fathers. They are important in the adoption process. We considered an open adoption with our child’s birth mother, but having an open adoption with the birth father as well was not something we expected. Ryan initially thought that he was going to be in competition with our son’s birth father, but it was the complete opposite for him. He found that it was more like an extension of family. He sometimes compares it to having a younger brother. Ryan wanted to protect and help S any way that he could. Having a relationship with S was way beyond what we could have ever thought. We are grateful for the openness that we enjoy and know that in the long run, it has blessed and continues to bless all of our lives. Our son can recognize that he has always been loved. His birth parents both chose this for him. He knows that they want the best for him. They cheer him on through FaceTime, visits, phone calls, and pictures. His birth father is one of his heroes. Lucas wrote an essay in school about how he wants to do the same job as S. Lucas will always love both the Seahawks and the Vikings because those are the favorite teams of his dad and his birth father. His birth father has a daughter now and Lucas enjoys counting her as one of his siblings. Open adoption is a wonderful benefit for all of us in the adoption triad: child, birth parents, and adoptive parents. It is an ever-growing relationship. In the beginning, much of it was us reaching out to send pictures, videos, and texts, but now Lucas will also borrow a phone to call or text his birth family. 

Expectant fathers may go through difficult struggles during the pregnancy, adoption planning, adoption finalization, and after. They don’t always understand their role and can go through feelings of heartbreak and pain. It may be important to talk about these struggles. 

I heard a birth father defend his decision to place his baby for adoption when a family member suggested that it was the easy way out or that he was neglecting his manhood. This birth father said that the decision to place was not easy, but it was made because he loved his child. He wanted to give the child more than what he could give and so he and the mother made the adoption plan. It was the right choice for them. 

Making an adoption plan can be a difficult decision. Most of the time when I have a question, I first go to Google and type the question into the search bar. You may have found this adoption site because you typed something about adoption. We get our information from the internet and this can be a great first step. There are many stories about adoption on the internet. You can click on the frequently asked questions and find some answers, but maybe not all of your questions will be answered. You may want to talk to a professional that deals with adoption. These professionals have been through many different adoptions and they will be able to answer questions. One of the best ways that I know of to get answers to questions is to talk to people who have been in similar situations. It is great to connect with someone who has been through it before. You may find others that have made an adoption plan and chosen to move forward with adoption or chosen to parent. Write down your questions and try to seek out the answers from different sources.

Making an adoption plan can be a difficult decision. Most of the time when I have a question, I first go to Google and type the question into the search bar. You may have found this adoption site because you typed something about adoption. We get our information from the internet and this can be a great first step. There are many stories about adoption on the internet. You can click on the frequently asked questions and find some answers, but maybe not all of your questions will be answered. You may want to talk to a professional that deals with adoption. These professionals have been through many different adoptions and they will be able to answer questions. One of the best ways that I know of to get answers to questions is to talk to people who have been in similar situations. It is great to connect with someone who has been through it before. You may find others that have made an adoption plan and chosen to move forward with adoption or chosen to parent. Write down your questions and try to seek out the answers from different sources.

Some of the most important questions to ask yourself might be: 

  • Is adoption right for my baby? 
  • Is adoption right for me? 
  • What are my feelings about adoption? 

If you decide to make an adoption plan, you may want to ask yourself:

  • What kind of adoption do I want? 
  • How much contact do you want to have, including letters, emails, pictures, and/or visits, before and after adoption?
  • What are some of the qualities that I want adoptive parents to have?
  • How do I choose an adoptive family for my child?
  • How do I make sure that everything is legal?

It will be important to communicate and have an open dialogue about these questions. This will help better understand each other. Know that there are caseworkers and/or adoption lawyers to help with communication and answering questions. They also know the different legalities of adoption. There are different adoption laws in each state, so you will need a lawyer in the state where the baby is born. Your lawyer will be able to help you understand your rights before and after adoption. 

Adoption might be one of the most important and difficult decisions that you can make. It is not something to be taken lightly. Make an informed decision based on your feelings, research, and what might be best for the child. There will be a roller coaster of emotions as you make a decision. Adoption has been a beautiful blessing in my life and if I was to ask my son’s birth father, I know that he would say the same thing.

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Alicia Nelson

Alicia Nelson is a wife and a mother to three rambunctious boys. She is an online teacher and teaches English to Chinese children. Adoption has become her passion. She loves connecting with others on infertility, adoption, and foster care. She enjoys woodworking, being outdoors, listening to podcasts, and reading good books. She lives in Washington state with her family.