Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Birth Fathers

Well, I posted earlier about birth mothers, and it didn't occur to me until now to talk about birth fathers. What does that say about me?!

Have you seen Mamma Mia! yet? It's a riot! Meryl Streep plays Donna, a single mom who has raised her daughter single-handedly. The daughter is about to get married, and wants to learn who her father is. Without telling her mother, she invites the three possible fathers to her wedding, hoping to figure out which one is actually her father. One of the best lines of the movie comes after Donna finds out the men have been invited. She says, "I refuse to be muscled out by an ejaculation!"

That kind of says it all, doesn't it? It's like the painting above: the birth father isn't involved, we don't really see him. The loss of a birth father doesn't get much attention -- how can you lose what doesn't seem to be present in the first place? Think about it -- when I say "she mothered the child," you see images of care and nurturing; but when I say "he fathered the child," you think sperm donor. I admit, I think much more about Zoe's and Maya's birth mothers than their birth fathers. Maybe that's because I'm a mom; her (possible) pain seems more real to me.

Neither Zoe nor Maya seem very interested in their birth fathers. Is that because we don't have a dad in our family? I've always tried to include discussion of their birth fathers, thinking it might make them feel more "normal" -- "no, you don't have a daddy, but you do have a birth father. It takes a man and a woman to make a baby, and your birth mother and birth father made you." But they don't seem to invest much in that idea. Zoe will talk or write about her birth parents, plural, but her acute grief seems reserved for the loss of her birth mother.

Is it any different in your families? Do you think much or talk much about birth fathers? Do you think about the birth family more as a unit, or do you think mostly about birth mothers? Please share your thoughts!

(The painting above is by another Chinese artist whose book I bought in China -- can't translate the name!)


Chinazhoumom said...

I always tell K - no we don't have a daddy in our family - but you have a birthfather in China..

I figure when kids say where is your daddy - she can reply - my father in in China - and it shuts them up...

Loving reading your blog! Keep up the good work!

Beverly said...

I think more about the mothers, birth and foster but my kiddo is adament that her daddy is in china "and thats a yong yong way away." She is 4 now.

Wendy said...

We do talk about them as a unit, but we also talk about them individually. Madeline treats/discusses them equally; we are a mom/dad house. She was actually angry the other day because of the book Motherbridge of Love did not include the birthfather. I told her we would look for a bf book, we have not found one in relation to China. I will make my own--thank you Shutterfly.

btw--can I get your address? M made little gifts for Zoe and Maya. Thanks.

Ann BF said...

Just happened to check your blog for a photo and found out about your new blog -- terrific!
We are readjusting to life in the US..now getting email from the newest Fulbright family in Apartment 301-- a family with 3 boys ages 4-11 from Pennsylvania...not blogging yet I guess! I will stay tuned for Adoption Talk -- thanks for doing it!