I’ll never forget the day I found my birth father’s name. I sat, stunned, staring at the letters, putting them together and trying to imagine what kind of man he was beyond the brief words about him in the file Children’s Aid Society sent to me. I Googled his name and knew instinctively which image was his face. There was something familiar about his features — we don’t look alike, but we don’t look that dissimilar, if that makes any sense. I stared at his smiling face trying to find some piece of my history, some understanding.
I have an amazing Dad. He has travelled the globe, had crazy adventures, and is a truly wonderful father. He’s smart and funny, brave, strong and devoted. He and my Mom have been married for 46 years, and I couldn’t ask for better grandparents for our kids. I’m so, so very lucky. So I wondered what the man who is my biological father would be like in comparison to the incredible father who raised me.
I’ve met my birth mother, and one full sister. I’ve written about how finding these people has been both relieving and difficult because of the weight our history carries. But I’ve never said much about this man who played a key role in my creation.
I know his name, I know where he works. I know his home address, and the name of his wife. I know who his family members are, and I know his history. I see his comments on Facebook, and I know at least two of his most private secrets.
Excited by the discovery we made, my full sister called him to let him know the news. She was raised by both my biological parents, though her parents were not together for most of her life. She maintains a relationship with him and was so excited to tell him she’d met me.
He denied I exist.
You may think that’s somehow hurtful, but the truth is, I know I’m better off. I have had the “luxury” of getting to know this man without ever having met him, and I can truly say life’s better this way. Adoptees often search for years finding no keys to their genetic past. I was luckier in that my pieces came together rather easily after some research. Having met some biological relatives, I know the struggle Pandora felt when she opened that box.
He said I must be the product of an affair between my birth mother and one of his brothers. He flat-out refused to admit I was his child. Then he lied and tried to say I was the baby they’d given up short months before I was born. He tried every angle to wiggle himself out of the situation he created almost 40 years prior, terrified that his current spouse would find out.
And here I’ve been, sitting on all this information for years, hesitant to share it out of courtesy. Out of concern for his privacy. Out of respect.
As an adoptee, that’s something we don’t really get to experience in many ways. Our history is erased, our genetics are unknown, and in my case, my existence is denied. Our birth mothers bring us into the world, but where are our birth fathers? What roles do they play in our history and self-knowledge?
At 41, I don’t want to waste time pondering this man anymore.
This Father’s Day, as in every one past, I’ll be overwhelmingly thankful for the Dad I’ve got.
I’ll remind him of all the reasons he’s so loved and cherished, and how the kind of man he is shaped the kind of woman I am. I’ll tell him what an amazing father-in-law he is, and what a beloved Papa he is to my kids. I’ll thank him for 41 years of unconditional love and support, of acceptance of me in every stage and through every challenge.
I’ll also think about the man who created three children with my birth mother, two of whom were adopted into other families.
I’ll be thankful for him, too, because without his selfishness, I would not have had the life I’ve had.
I’ll feel sorry for his fear and shame, and thankful he’s but a blip on the radar of my past.