Talking about the Birth Dad
While adoptive families may openly acknowledge that their child is adopted and talk easily about the how the child joined the family, the conversations almost always focus on the birth mother. The birth father is rarely, if ever, mentioned.
There are natural reasons for this. When the child is young, he/she becomes aware that babies grow in tummies and that they grew in another mommy’s tummy before coming to their forever family. They are not aware of the father’s role in conception and most families don’t want explain how babies are made to a young child.
However, as they get older, children might start to wonder about their birth fathers. They might vaguely consider that their birth parents might still be together. They might anguish over whether the birth parents had other children whom they kept and didn’t give up for adoption. Without concrete knowledge, they might weave stories such as speculating that their birth father abandoned their birth mother, forcing her to give them up for adoption.
Often, for children adopted from India, there is even less information on the birth father than on the birth mother. According to the 2017 Indian Adoption Regulations, an unwed mother can unilaterally surrender her child for adoption. The birth father does not have to be involved. (If a married couple are surrendering their child, both are required to sign).
Adoptive parents should try to talk about the birth father, as well as, the birth mother. As always, they should be mentioned compassionately, that circumstances beyond their control forced both of them to make the hard decision to give up their child for adoption. Do not make up stories. If you don’t know anything about the birth parents, be clear about that. Young adopted children often engage in fantasies about their birth parents – this is completely normal. Engage with them, acknowledge their fantasies, gently guide them in an age-appropriate way to more probable scenarios. If you do know difficult facts surrounding their adoption, wait until they are old enough to process the information. You know your child best, but keep in mind that teenagers will probably be better able to empathize with difficult choices their birth parents may have had to make. Never speak negatively about their birth parents!
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