Birth Fathers – Grief and Loss

k4713740Regular acknowledgement of birth fathers and the emotions they may feel as a part of placing a child for adoption doesn’t happen enough….and that has to change!

“There is not enough space to quote all the men who said that they remembered their adopted children constantly. The men expressed their profound grief at the loss of the children and partners and spoke of their memories as though the child had died. They described deep feelings of loss that resonated throughout their lives. Not only had they lost a child and a partner but some felt a loss of self-esteem and some a loss of virility. Their losses included a loss of manhood.” – From “Original Fathers: An Exploration into the Experiences of Birth Fathers Involved in Adoption in the Mid-20th Centery,” by Celia Witney

All too often the birth father is the forgotten participant in the adoption triad. The societal assumptions about birth fathers are characterized by distrust, disdain and a lack of sympathy. It would behoove adoption professionals (and even adoptive parents) to not “buy into” these negative messages about birth fathers. Rather, try to acknowledge the grief and loss they too may feel as a result of placing a child for adoption.

As it says in Spaulding for Children’s “Understanding the Birth Father Experience” curriculum, “Without exception, birth fathers who release their parental rights experience a range of feelings, including a sense of loss. Even the most seemingly disinterested birth father – despite his relief, despite his eagerness to sign the papers, despite his apparent urge to flee – still experience loss. Many birth fathers find it helpful to talk about this sense of loss, either in a professional or peer support setting.”