“This was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life,” says Shawn, a birth father
When it comes to dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, much of the compassion, sympathy and focus is placed on the woman. But what about the father of the baby? How does he feel when the mother of his baby is considering adoption, and what are his responsibilities as the birth father?
It is common for birth fathers and birth mothers to experience many of the same emotions, such as grief, denial or sadness, but one of the strongest emotions that birth fathers feel is embarrassment.
“I think the birth father does experience some different emotions,” says Hayley, an Adoption Specialist. “I think for the birth father it’s very common to feel like he should step up and he should be the one providing because that’s his job, but in reality, that’s not always possible.”
Embarrassment is common because these men sometimes feel like they didn’t live up to their responsibilities as the birth father. They fear family members, friends, co-workers or fellow students will look at them as somehow failing the child. And they struggle to accept the fact that, at this point in their lives, they cannot provide for the baby like an adoptive family could.
Sometimes, these intense emotions are reasons why a birth father doesn’t support the birth mother’s adoption plan. If you are a father in a similar situation but are unsure of whether to support the adoption, please understand that supporting an adoption doesn’t portray you as irresponsible, weak or a man not living up to the responsibilities of a father. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
“Adoption can be a very lonely experience for a birth mother and a birth father, so when they’re collaborating and they’re a team and there for each other and supportive, it makes the process so much easier and so much more fulfilling for both parties,” says Cole, an Adoption Specialist. “In a lot of ways, adoption is stepping up and taking responsibility and saying, I know my limitations, and I know how difficult it would be not only for me but for this child.”
Talking to the mother of your child openly is a good idea. In fact, friendly support is important for both of you. Your role in this pregnancy ought to be dealt with after the mother has come to a decision about what she is going to do and has had a chance to express her feelings. You may want to seek some counseling, just as she has been encouraged to do. Counselors promise a good listening ear and can steer you in the right direction if you need a friend or legal advice.
Adoption can be a positive option for everyone, so you both can continue your lives and have children later when you are better prepared. Even though you may have strong feelings about how you would like to see the mother handle her pregnancy or the adoption, remember that she has to make her own decision. Even though you may have to live with her decision also, you must still consider her feelings and let her make her own decision without undue pressure.
Supporting the birth mother’s adoption plan is the most responsible decision you can make in this situation. Making such a difficult decision takes a great deal of strength that will make others proud. You will be remembered as a true blessing to not only your family and the adoptive family, but also to your son or daughter.
Regardless if you and the birth mother are still together, you may still be a part of the adoption plan. Read [insert final article title of Laws/Rights for Birth Fathers] to learn more about the services available to you as the birth father.