If you’re reading this, you’re probably in a unique situation. You’re the father of a baby, and the mother has decided that the best path forward is adoption.
This isn’t something you were planning. Regardless of your relationship with the mother, you most likely have a lot of questions. The first thing to know is that this is her decision. While you can be a part of this process, and you do have a claim to the child, try to allow room for the fact that because it is her body, it is first and foremost her choice.
That means, if the mother is already set on adoption, one of the best things you can do is offer your support and encouragement. She’s making a difficult decision, and you have an opportunity to be an important part of it.
To get to a place where you can offer that support, you’re going to need to knock down some misconceptions about adoption and what it means for you. You may have some fears, but there’s a good chance those fears come from common myths.
We’re going to bust five big misconceptions about adoption and tell you the truth about how it can affect your life in a positive way.
Myth #1: Birth Fathers Can’t Be Involved in the Process
It’s true that many birth fathers are not involved in the adoption process, but that’s not because they can’t be. It’s their choice. Unfortunately, many are unsupportive or uninvolved and take the easy way out by walking away. But you don’t have to do that.
If you would like to be involved in the adoption process, you can. You can work with the mother of the baby and an adoption agency to create an adoption plan that works for everyone. You can be a supportive and encouraging presence. There’s nothing to stop you from making the best of this situation and being a positive part of the adoption process.
Myth #2: Adoption Means Your Relationship is Over
If the mother of the baby is someone special to you, there’s a good chance you are worried that her choosing adoption means she is giving up on you. That’s not always the case. While every relationship is unique and we can’t say how yours will go, there are many women who choose adoption but go on to become a mother again later in life, sometimes with the father of the baby.
Adoption isn’t always about you, as the father. It’s about the mother and how she feels. She may know that she can’t be a parent right now for a number of reasons. If you can put her needs before your own, you may be able to see that the meaningful relationship you have with her could actually be strengthened by going on this journey together.
Myth #3: As a Man, You Shouldn’t Need Emotional Support and Counseling
Our culture has a pretty bad idea of what it means to be a man. Lately you may have heard to it referred to as “toxic masculinity,” the sort of macho-man mentality that causes harm to others, asserts authority over everyone and is extremely allergic to any notion of emotional availability.
A real man doesn’t need counseling, you may think. A real man toughs it out.
This is a lie at best, and an actively harmful idea at worst. Everyone has emotions. We all deal with difficult situations differently. Being the father in an unplanned pregnancy and then going through the adoption process is not always easy, and it’s okay to ask for help.
You’re never going to be able to help the mother of your baby if you don’t find help for yourself. Your peers may tell you that it’s weak to seek counseling or other emotional supports, but it takes real strength to put yourself in a better position to meet other’s needs.
Myth #4: You’ll Never Know What Happens to the Child
A lot of people don’t understand that when a mother chooses adoption for her baby, her motivation is love. You may know what we mean, because you also feel love for this child. And you may be wondering, Will I ever know if things turned out okay?
Thankfully, the answer is yes. Most adoptions are at least semi-open. This means that, if you would like to stay involved in the process, there is a good chance you can at least receive photo and letter updates from the family post-placement. This gives you the opportunity to see your child growing and thriving.
In some cases, adoptions are completely open, which means you may be able to have face-to-face interactions with your child on special occasions as they grow up.
Myth #5: Your Child Will Resent You
Each child who comes home through adoption will develop a unique relationship with their past. As they grow and form a sense of identity, they will grapple with the implications of adoption. We have seen many adoptees, especially in modern-day adoption, come to have a sense of appreciation for their birth parents. There are several reasons for this.
The first is that adoptive parents no longer keep adoption a secret. This is an outdated and harmful practice. Instead, adoptive parents are encouraged to tell their children their adoption story from a young age. This helps place it in a positive light.
The second is open adoption. Even though there is added distance, open adoption helps a child to still you see as a part of their life. You are still someone who has been around, in one way or another, since the beginning.
Choosing adoption does not guarantee that your child will resent you. Rather, they will likely come to appreciate the selfless decision you made.
These are some of the most common fears that birth fathers have about adoption. As you can see, most of these fears come from misconceptions. While adoption may not be easy, and it’s most likely not what you had in mind, you can choose to support the mother of the baby during this important time.