A birth father recently contacted me asking for advice. I don't think I've ever felt less qualified to give advice, but I was willing to listen and see if I could be helpful.
I heard that during the pregnancy he never considered raising his daughter and that he believes he made the right decision, except when he worries that he made a mistake.
I heard that he has grieved every day since she was born, that he regrets relinquishing his parental rights, and yet he is relieved that she has a better man than he for a father.
I heard his fear of how either his absence or presence may affect the girl he helped create, how some days he wants desperately to have contact with her, and how other days he never wants to know anything about her.
I heard that he hates himself, feels like a loser, and is ashamed. He is afraid she will feel the same way about him. About her birth mother. About herself.
I heard that alcohol is the reason he conceived a child, the reason he didn't want to parent, and the reason he gets up in the morning.
I heard that he is grateful to adoption for giving him an out and grateful to her adoptive parents for giving her a better life. I heard that he resents adoption for giving him an out and resents her adoptive parents for being able to give her a better life.
I heard him blame himself, his parents, her birth mother, her parents, a social worker, a doctor, his aunt, his brother, "the world", "the media", and "the church," but he never said what the blame is for. For getting pregnant? For choosing adoption? For his addiction? I'm not sure. But he never once blamed the child for anything.
I heard that his shame is rooted in the fact that he does not want to parent his child. He desperately wants to want to parent her. But he doesn't. And that makes him very, very sad.
I listened. I cried. I felt his pain. And I never felt less qualified to give advice.
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