My husband and I had the privilege of studying abroad in the country of Austria when we were students in college. We were dating at the time and visiting the quaint little town of Pochlarn. As we walked through the streets we talked about my adoption story, specifically my birth mother and my desire to find her some day.
Suddenly, he stopped, looked at me, and asked, “How come you never pray for you birth father?”
The question stunned me. Honestly, my birth father had never once crossed my mind.
We stopped into a little chapel on the town square. Kneeling down, for the first time, I prayed for my birth father. It was a strange thing to allow the idea of him to slip into my conscious thought.
I don’t mourn Father’s Day in the same way that I do Mother’s Day. I don’t think about my birth father in the same way (or at all really) like I do my birth mother on my birthday.
On the part of a birth mother, there is at least some degree of commitment to the child, nine months, to be exact. Beyond supplying genetic material, a birth father’s role may be largely unknown. We tend to romanticize and focus on the birth mother and this makes sense because she gave life which required a sacrifice, a physical one, and likely emotional as well. More can be safely assumed about birth mothers than birth fathers.
I recently read an ESPN article titled, Runs In The Family. The description reads, “Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough went searching for his biological parents. He found them where he never would have expected.”
I wonder if adopted women have a particular curiosity about their mothers and adopted men about their fathers. In the article, after reconnecting with his birth mother, Deland immediately asks her, “Who’s my father?”
My own adoptive father is near perfect. He is truly the most kind, patient, and compassionate person that I know. He and I have a really beautiful father-daughter relationship, sharing a love of many things, sports, family, and most importantly faith. Maybe because there was nothing lacking in the relationship with my adoptive father, I never wondered what I could be missing in a birth father.
Thinking about my birth father I first considered the following:
Were they married, in some sort of a relationship, or had they just met?
Did he love her at all?
In my mind I had set up a competition between them, as if my birth mother had to be protected from him.
Could my initial assumptions and attitude towards my birth father reflect a larger societal attitude regarding fatherhood?
With many fathers shirking their responsibilities to their families or becoming absent all together, the importance of the role of fathers cannot be under stressed. They are our models, our defenders, our providers in many ways and we should have high expectations of them while recognizing that none of them is perfect (except One).
I have a hard time loving and embracing my birth father, and even considering that he may have been a presence in my early life for a period of time. But who’s to say that he wasn’t a heroic character in my adoption story? Maybe he protected me or our family from harm. Maybe he was the one who dropped me off at the train station to be found by law enforcement.
The conclusion that I came to is this: I should pay more homage to my birth father. Since my husband asked me that question, I’ve prayed for both of my birth parents together. I haven’t spoken with other adoptees on the topic of birth fathers but I do wonder what their thoughts and feelings may be.
I can’t dwell on what I may never know but I can pray for him, hope that he was and is a good man, and wish the best for him.
Molly Schmiesing was adopted from Wuhan, China when she was 9 months old by an American couple from Cleveland, Ohio. After living in Beijing with her husband Michael, they are now back in the States and recently welcomed their first child. You can read more on her blog, Finding China.