When talking about birth parents, much of the attention is focused on the birth mother, who made the beautiful and selfless decision to place her child for adoption. But birth fathers are just as important — and they deserve recognition on Father’s Day, too.
Just like a birth mother, a birth father plays a unique role in an adoptee’s life. Whether they are involved or uninvolved in the adoption process, a birth father is not just someone to forget. But, with all the complexities involving birth fathers — known or unknown — figuring out how to honor them on Father’s Day can be complicated.
However a birth father is involved in your life, he could be hard to think about on Father’s Day. But there are a few ways you can keep him in mind this weekend. It will be up to you to decide which way is best for your situation.
Consider these options:
1. Ask Him if He Would Like to Celebrate
A birth father may be in your life for many reasons. He may be the birth father in your or your child’s adoption, or he may be a loved one who has placed a child for adoption with your support. If he is open about his adoption journey, Father’s Day may be a complicated time for him. Show your support by asking him what — if anything — he would like to do this weekend.
Without a birth father, a child would never have existed — and your child wouldn’t be who they are today. So, birth fathers deserve recognition, too. However, some birth fathers may be more comfortable thinking about their birth child on their own — so always give the birth father in your life the space he needs.
2. Create Your Own Tradition
As you talk with the birth father about his plans for Father’s Day, you might consider making a new tradition together. For example, adoptees and birth fathers may decide to video chat on Father’s Day weekend or, if they live close, participate in a fun activity like bowling or fishing. Birth fathers may also want to create a tradition with those who supported their adoption; it could be as simple as looking over pictures and letters sent by their child’s adoptive parents with friends and family.
3. Send Him a Homemade Gift
If an adoptive parent has contact with a birth father (either directly or through agency-mediated contact), they might work with their child to create a special gift for Father’s Day. Many schools will guide children through arts and crafts prior to this holiday, and a child might want to make two — one for their adoptive father and one for their birth father.
Adoptive parents could also send along arts and crafts made throughout the year or, if you think far enough in advance, a photobook. This album could include photos, letters and art from the child’s previous year. It could even become a yearly tradition!
4. Tell Your Child a Story
Not all adoptees will have a direct relationship with their birth father. This can leave adoptive parents wondering how to best honor an uninvolved birth father during Father’s Day weekend.
One of the best ways is by reiterating your child’s adoption story. Even if a birth father was not involved in the adoption, you can talk about how he is out there somewhere and will always be a special part of your child’s life. If you’re an adoptive parent, you might talk with your child’s birth mom, to see if she has any ideas or other details she wants to share with your child.
5. Plant a Tree or Do a Service in His Honor
Whether or not a birth father is involved in his birth child’s life, he may not want direct contact with his birth child on Father’s Day. That’s entirely within his rights. But that doesn’t mean you have to forget about him on this day — there are still plenty of ways you can honor his existence and express his importance to your adopted child.
Sometimes, a small act like planting a tree can be a great way to honor a birth father. As the tree grows over time, so will the adoptee’s understanding and relationship with the idea of their birth father. It can be a great reminder of his story, even if it was a footnote in the adoption story.
You might also gather your child (and their birth mother, if she’s willing) to do a good deed in his honor. He did a selfless thing by placing his child for adoption, and you can honor that decision by cleaning up litter, volunteering at a food drive and more. Ask your child if they have any particular ideas or projects they’d like to try.
Remember, every birth father situation is different — as are every birth father’s feelings about his child’s adoption. Respect his space and wishes, if you are involved in his life, and speak in an age-appropriate way about him to your child, if he is not.
Father’s Day can be tricky for those involved in adoption. No two Father’s Days will look the same. But, with time, you’ll likely find a tradition that works for you — and recognizes a birth father’s importance in the lifelong journey of adoption.