April 17, 2008

The Missing Player

I haven't said anything about Firefly's first dad in awhile. Truthfully, I've not known how to comfortably approach it here. I am sorting through conflicting thoughts and feelings about him. It is hard to know what is appropriate to share.

After his chance pizza place meeting with the agency social worker, he did go into the office to meet with her before Firefly was born. It was...less than positive. He had already made clear that he felt no obligation toward Ms B, and as of now he apparently feels no obligation toward his daughter either. Nobody has heard from him since.

T and I have never spoken with him. We've never even seen a picture of him. We know his name and his age and some sketchy medical history. My amateur sleuthing hasn't turned up any online presence for him, so I can't peek at his life through Myspace or Facebook. He is a complete mystery to me. Yet he is one-half of my daughter's genetic heritage.

This is uncharted territory for our family. Puppy's first dad, R, has been around from the beginning. It's easy to include him in what we say to Puppy: "K and R made you, they took care of you, they decided we would be parents to you. You have his smile, his hair, his eyes." R underscores it all through his continued presence in Puppy's life. I feel like Firefly's story thus far has a glaringly missing player. What do you say about a man who chooses to ignore her? What do I say about a man about whom I know next to nothing?

One day before Firefly's birth I sat down with Ms B and laid how T and I had approached our relationship with Puppy's first parents. Our priority has always been maintaining healthy relationships for Puppy. So our separate relationships with K and R are our business and their relationship with each other is their business--we don't take sides when there is friction between them and Puppy doesn't get put in the middle of anything. I told Ms B that we knew Firefly's dad hadn't done right by her. That we didn't want her to think that us wanting a relationship with him meant we condoned that or didn't care about it. Yet none of that changed the fact that Firefly still deserved to know him. The only thing we would expect from her would be to not to stand in the way if he ever started up a relationship with us.

It's not that cut and dried, of course. It's not like we can truly separate everyone into their own corners of our life. Ms B is the one who is becoming our friend, who vulnerably opened up her life to us--and who received us likewise. She's shown her commitment to this budding open adoption in myriad ways. Her opinions matter to us, including her opinions on Firefly's dad. Thinking about the way he treated her makes me angry. I think about what a slap in the face it could feel like to Ms B were we to welcome him when he has taken the opposite course as her in virtually every way.

Despite all that, my driving desire is to know him. I want to see his face and know what of my daughter's is there. I want to hear his voice, know his personality, learn his stories. I want her to grow up knowing the entirety of who she comes from, not just one-half. I hope she can know that even if he wasn't closely involved in her adoption that he acknowledges it--and acknowledges her.

I've seen a change in Ms B even in just the few weeks Firefly has been here. In the beginning she was almost determined to not see any of Firefly's first dad in her appearance and was skeptical about what value he could add to her life. But the last time we were visiting with her she pointed out several of his features in an appreciative way. And she made some comments about hoping that he reaches out and contacts us. I don't think it is because all is forgiven. Perhaps she's taking to heart the fact that Firefly needs to know we respect all of her biological roots, not just the half that comes from her first mom.

We know he has received some basic information about openness and has been told that his daughter's adoptive parents want an open adoption with him. Whether he heard that, or what it meant to him, I don't know. We know he's expressed anger over everything. I imagine that there might also be sadness, frustration, shame or fear. Part of me understands that and just wants the chance to introduce him to his incredible daughter. To tell him that in our minds he is family, because Firefly is our family and he is her family. Part of me want to stamp my foot and ask him how he could be so self-centered and immature.

I find this not-knowing unsettling. My personality type likes clarity and finishing points. I'm not good at not knowing where things stand. I'm searching for ways to live comfortably with the ambiguity, to not fix him into a stereotype in my mind. We've only just started this story, there is still much left to come. I'm definitely not ready to write him off yet.

This is a moment when advice is welcome.


Erin said...

We know nothing about the bees dad short of his name. And it sucks! The queen did manage to find a photo of him once, and that is what we have, one photo, a name, and the address he lived at when the bee was made. Other than that....

It is a little weird, the not knowing, but we have to deal with what it is! I hope that someday we CAN have a relationship with him, or at least some more information. He knows the agency we used, and could try and find us if he wanted to. So we'll see....

Dawn said...

We also have no contact and extenuating circumstances that make contact -- at this point -- unlikely. (I'll share with you via email if you want to know more.) My frustration is that we believe that there are siblings out there, too, but none of us knows for sure. I hope it changes at some point but can't really imagine that either.

Tammy said...

Both our children are missing their first father's in their life. For Bug, we only have a first name, a minimal physical description and a sketchy ethnic heritage. Her other MOm said he as nice to her. That is it. Not a picture, nothing else. And I know that someday, I already know, that who he is will matter ALOT to her and she's going to struggle with the not knowing. Alot. Sadly, I've have no feelings about him because he's never been a part of this.

And for Si, well, we met him, and we have pictures of that day, but he disappeared the day Si was born and at this point, there are circumstances that will keep him from being a part of Si's life for now, maybe for always. He's not a nice person. I'll just use my restraint at leave it at that.

We don't really talk about their other dads much right now. I don't know if it's right or wrong but it is what we are doing, establishing relationships the best we can (which are hard in and of themselves) with the people we know. I've lived with this long enough to know that if I let the anger about it all (it's so very complicated) get to me, I won't be able to work on any of it. So I set it aside for now, and we'll deal with it at another time.

I wish I knew what to say to move forward. All I know to do is to embrace what you know now and trust that if it will work itself out. And if it doesn't that you'll have the words to help your DD understand her life...

Many hugs... this stuff is so hard.

Anonymous said...

No advice from me... Every family and situation is so different. In general I think being openminded and flexible is important, and also just being deliberate and thoughtful in relationships with first family.

We haven't talked much about other dads around here. The "unfairness" of Pumpkin knowing his first mom when Sparkle doesn't know his is hard for Sparkle.

I wonder how the boys will feel about their first dads, and how it will influence them as they become men and fathers themselves.

Thanksgivingmom said...

No advice, just tears and thoughts from the other side (although I hate to say "sides".) Cupcake's bdad is absent and I haven't seen him or spoken to him in over two years (mind you Cupcake is only 16 months old). I've put myself out there, jumped through hoops, and done everything I could do to work on the OA that I have at this point. And as much as I can logically understand the desire for Cupcake to know him, it's the hardest part of this OA for me...the part where I know that D is hoping to one day welcome him with open arms. And I selfishly get angry that he's stepping into a place that I established. That I worked so damn hard for. That he doesn't deserve it.

But Cupcake does, and that's what I'm learning to deal with. But it's hard. I so appreciate your perspective as I constantly work on understanding D's desire to encourage this man, who I have so many negative thoughts of, into their lives.

This is one of those times when I wish that logic could simply over-ride emotions...

Anonymous said...

I wish I had some better insight. Six years later, Girly's firstdad has never been found, and almost 2 years later, Baby's firstmom has named a few names, but although they have been notified, none of them has stepped forward.

When my daughters begin to understand biology, this is going to be a tough one.

I applaud your determination, though. Take heart that as many people grow older, life events tend to change how they feel about things like family...I'll be praying that he has a heart-change and approaches you someday, wanting a relationship with that beautiful baby girl.

Meanwhile, don't feel guilt about being angry with him for the time being. He has treated Ms B wrong, plain and simple. It's not a contradictory emotion to want what's best for your daughter while still feeling ambivalence for the man who won't or can't put her needs before himself.

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