Last week, I wrote an article entitled, “Birth Fathers and Adoption,” depicting birth fathers as they are often seen and thought of in society. I introduced the idea that they’re the “unsung heroes” and greatest mystery of the adoption process. Things rings true for me as well – a fellow adoptee. It is the one aspect about adoption I will never get to learn the full extent behind.
Knowing virtually nothing growing up, I had pinned him as an irresponsible teenager who bailed the moment he discovered his impending fatherhood. A man who, basically, didn’t want me or have anything to do with me. To learn what I could, I reached out to the best source – my birth mother, Michelle. After a healing phone conversation, I gained knowledge that helped put my preconceived notions and residual fears at ease. While this wasn’t the first discussion we’d had about Bob, it was the deepest. Over the past nine years, Michelle and I have formed a Rory and Lorelai-like connection, from the Gilmore Girls TV show, secured in trust, reinforcing my bravery to ask more difficult questions.
Disclaimer: For legal reasons and for the privacy of those involved, some elements of the following information has been purposefully glossed over. The featured dialogue is paraphrased and reorganized for the sake of the article. The names of my birth mother and birth father are used with permission.
Yes, he was at the doctor’s office with me. I took the test, and the nurse told us together. He flipped out and told me to get an abortion. I said no, because I don’t believe in abortion. The nurse said that we could talk in separate rooms. I said no and left the doctor’s office.
Because he had had a kid with his first girlfriend, I think he was really scared of losing you like his son. When he had his visits, Bob was a really good dad. He was able to see his son often, but they moved away and the visits stopped. I think the thought of another kid scared him. He didn’t want to get attached only to lose you, too.
Oh yeah. Early on in the pregnancy, we talked about getting married and keeping you. There were moments he touched my stomach and he would get goofy and excited.
Bob signed the papers three months before you were born. I broke up with him because I was hurt that he didn’t want you. He just wasn’t grown up enough to take on the responsibility of becoming a dad.
I didn’t sign until June 30th, three days after you were born — ironically his birthday. I had three full days with you in the hospital, and I didn’t think I could go through with it. I didn’t let you out of my sight that entire time, and took lots of pictures. My mom and I joked about tying sheets together like in the movies and escape out the window with you — *laughs* — but I knew I couldn’t take of you.
Yes. He showed up at the hospital, completely intoxicated. He wanted to check on me. He saw you, but never held you. Maybe because he was drunk, or he was afraid he’d drop you, or…he was too afraid of getting attached.
I saw him the September after you were born. After that, I didn’t see him until a friend’s funeral in February.
That was the last time I saw him. Several years later, a friend called to tell me he had taken his own life.
Despite the bad times, I have a lot of good memories of him. He was goofy and could make people laugh. He was “the bad guy” on the outside, but gentle on the inside when he wanted to be. He had a reputation to protect, so he acted tough sometimes. When we were dating, I was known as “Bobby’s girl.” His friends protected me. Nobody messed with “Bobby’s girl.”
The sad thing is, for the most part, he was a good man. It was just the drugs and alcohol that made the difference.
You have some of his facial features. There’s a crooked grin you do that’s from him. You have his chin, cowlicks and stocky build. The quick comebacks are definitely from Bob as well. But your nose, personality and lovingness are from me…your hair and eyes are a mix.
Bob committed suicide on October 4, 1997. Even though I first learned this in 2009, hearing more of the specific details were as heartbreaking as they were healing. I had accepted the statistical probability of his abandonment growing up, but had never prepared myself for the potential of his death.
Awhile back, I visited Bob’s grave, half-expecting there to be some innate sense of connection. Instead, I felt nothing more than a profound disconnect. Certainly the most eye-opening and conflicting experience I’ve ever had in a cemetery.
Bob had his good moments, and his bad. He made choices, just as we all do. He was human. I’ll always have unanswerable questions, but…overall, he granted me life, and I’m forever grateful for that.