I was anything but excited my when my phone beeped to tell me I had a text message. It’s not that I didn’t like getting text messages from my wife- to the contrary. In fact, I was really looking forward to hearing updates about what was going on at the hospital, but her message rattled me a little bit.
“The birthfather is here. Don’t worry, he’s really easy to talk to and you’ll like him,” her text said.
I wasn’t looking forward to meeting him. Of course, he had a right to be at the hospital. After all, his daughter was the one being born that day. If anything, I was the one who didn’t have any right to be there.
He hadn’t ever done anything to make me uncomfortable with his presence. In fact, I had never even met him. It was just the fact that he was a birthfather (or soon to be one). During our first adoption, the birthfather did nothing but cause problems. He didn’t want to parent the child, but he sure did want to make things difficult. His actions didn’t exactly leave me with a good taste in my mouth when I thought about birthfathers, so I entered our second adoption experience with an aversion to anyone playing his role. That changed with our second adoption, though.
I was called right before it was time for the actual delivery, then I dropped everything I was doing and rushed down to the delivery room. There he was right by the birthmother’s side. And because I showed up just in time for the action to start, we didn’t have a chance to get to know each other before our little girl was born.
There were a lot of emotions running wild at the hospital that day. I imagine that’s pretty normal. It was a very different experience from our first adoption, which we were also present for in the delivery room, but they both had the same level of intensity. The calmest person out of everybody involved was probably the birthfather.
Conversation started a little bit slowly once we did get a chance to calm down from the intensity of a new life coming into the world. We’re both guitar players, so we had that to talk about. We both like similar types of music, so we had that too. We sing, we perform, all that good stuff, so we talked a lot about our hobbies.
We spent the entire day getting to know each other. Lucky for us, he didn’t come into the relationship with preconceived stereotypes and bias about what adoptive parents are like. His intentions and his personality gave us a chance to get to know each other to build the relationship we have now.
Above all, I have a great appreciation now for the positive presence and influence a birthfather can have on an open adoption relationship. We’ve driven the 5 hours to see him a few times and he’s driven to see us as well. I know that what he did nearly a year ago at the hospital that day and ever since has been out of love for our little girl. I will always be glad that we get to share our lives and experiences with him. Birthfathers are unfortunately left of out or pushed aside sometimes and they shouldn’t be. Our experience wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful without him. Birthfathers are awesome. by Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey