National adoption agencies are licensed and regulated by state authorities and work with pregnant mothers and adoptive families across all 50 states. These agencies do it all — they have the expertise, resources and staff to complete adoptions from start to finish.
Many hopeful parents beginning the process of adopting a child are unsure of birth fathers and where they fit into the equation. You probably understand why having a lifelong relationship with your child’s birth mother whenever possible can benefit everyone involved, especially your child. But when it comes to the birth father, it may be a different story — especially if he hasn’t always been actively involved in the birth mother’s adoption plan.
Sadly, birth fathers are often overlooked in the adoption process. This can be frustrating for them, but it can also be detrimental to your future child. Here are four reasons why you should keep birth fathers in mind throughout your adoption journey:
1. Some Birth Fathers Want to Be Involved
Most importantly, a birth father’s consent to adoption should never be seen as a means to an end for adoptive parents. Birth fathers, like birth mothers, are people who want the best for their child.
When a birth father feels excluded from the decision-making process, he may feel that the only way to see his child is to oppose the birth mother’s adoption decision, even if he knows placement is in the best interest of everyone involved. Through greater involvement in the adoption process and by getting to know the adoptive family himself, he may feel more comfortable with adoption.
When birth fathers are given the option of participating in the adoption process and in open adoption relationships, some birth fathers may feel more at ease with offering their consent.
2. Many Birth Fathers are Stereotyped
Society often has an image of “absent fathers” — men who are uninterested in caring for their children, who are uninterested in (or even unkind to) their partners or who may withhold financial help and affection. While there are some men, including birth fathers, who do match this unfortunate description, most do not.
This stereotype is harmful to men, and in particular, fathers. Most birth fathers who are aware of the birth mother’s adoption decision are very interested in the well-being of their child and love their baby, even if they’re unable to parent the baby themselves.
Like birth mothers, a birth father who acknowledges that he’s unable to provide the life that he wants for his child, despite his great love for his baby, is anything but a poor parent. Additionally, birth fathers can be from all walks of life, so shake whatever image you have of birth fathers out of your mind. Many are married or in a committed relationship with the birth mother, and many are active participants in the adoption process and support the birth mother throughout their difficult adoption journey.
3. He’s Half of the Equation
This man provided half of your child’s genetics. This is important for both practical and emotional reasons.
As you probably know, although love makes a family, genetics are never to be ignored. Nature and nurture work in tandem. Your child may share your obsession with basketball and put their hands on their hips when he or she is frustrated, just like you do. Your child may also share his or her birth father’s talent for music, love of spicy foods and his dry sense of humor.
Your child’s link to his or her birth father is also important for medical purposes. His genes and family make up half of your child’s biological medical history, which can be important for your child’s long-term health as well as for the health of their own children someday.
4. Your Child Can Benefit from Birth Father Inclusion
Without much connection to his or her birth father, your child may wonder, “Where did I get my eye color from? My birth mom has brown eyes, but I don’t.” Even if they have a relationship with their birth mother through an open adoption, your child may be curious if their birth father isn’t part of that arrangement, which is only natural.
Beyond getting answers to those small but important questions, adoptees can benefit from a relationship with their birth father the same way that they do with their birth mother. Every birth parent in every adoption situation is going to have a different relationship with their child after an adoption. But if your child’s birth parents are interested in having a relationship, seize that opportunity.
If your child’s birth father is willing to be a part of his or her life, remember that this could be a very important relationship for your child. Adoptees at any age have a right to know their personal history and to have a relationship with their birth parents if they’re willing (and when appropriate).
Whether or not he’s in the picture, every time you speak to your child about adoption, talk about their birth father like you do their birth mother: with respect and love. If you need help finding ways to include your child’s birth father before, during or after the adoption, reach out to your adoption specialist for advice.