by Cheryl S.
I didn’t realize to what extent I was personally touched by adoption (my dad was adopted by his step-dad) until I started taking adoption law. The more stories we heard in class, the more I realized that I could relate. I never really gave it much thought because I grew up knowing that my dad had been adopted by his step-dad when he was a teenager but we would visit his biological dad every now and then (we lived about 9 hours away). My dad always seemed comfortable in his biological dad’s presence but then again, I never really thought about what he may have been feeling inside. My dad never really talked about being adopted but I do think he harbored some animosity towards his mom because of the whole situation.
Once I got older, I learned that my dad didn’t even meet his biological dad until he was 18 years old. My grandmother and bio-grandfather were married at one point, had my dad, and then divorced. My grandmother then remarried. My dad was adopted by her second husband who also had a biological son with my grandmother. My grandmother and her second husband ended up divorced as well and he stayed away for the most part (I have never met my dad’s legal father). While my dad was growing up, he was told that his biological dad was basically not worth knowing, so my grandmother was not helpful to say the least when my dad would ask about him. He eventually took it upon himself to find his biological dad once he turned 18 and they finally met face-to-face without my grandmother knowing.
I could only imagine what it would be like to meet a bio-parent for the first time, especially when you have only heard negative things about that person. I think that is what caused some of the hard feelings my dad harbored for his mother after he graduated from high school (his reaction was to join the Navy). My bio-grandfather was always nice to us when we would visit so we never saw the bad things that my grandmother had described to my dad. My dad felt like he was unjustifiably denied access to his dad for so many years when he could have been getting to know him.
My dad ended up meeting all of his biological half-brothers and half-sisters and still maintains contact with them today. My bio-granddad was actually the only grandfather I’ve ever known but my interaction with him was not very extensive in my adult life. My granddad passed away back in February and I was unable to attend the funeral. The thought did run across my mind about maybe feeling awkward at the funeral if I did go. My dad went and was listed in the obituary.
I think about my dad’s situation sometimes and wonder if he truly felt like part of his dad’s family. My dad made it a point to find all of his siblings and maintain contact, so to him blood really is thicker than water. Now that I have taken wills and estates and adoption law, I wonder what is going to happen when my dad’s “legal father” passes away if he doesn’t have a will. I know my uncle (dad’s half-brother on his mother’s side) still talks to his dad every now and then but my dad hasn’t spoken to him in years. Legally, he is still my dad’s father but my dad’s biological father ended up being more of a dad to him in the end.