Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fathers

With only a couple of exceptions, every adoptee I know is a female. And every adoptee in my search support group is female. I've never met a first father. So today, when I stumbled upon a blog post discussing a play about adoption, this part really stood out for me...

Adoption Drama, The On Stage Kind!:

I'd love to see a play about a male adoptee, expecting his first child and deciding to search for his biological father, complete with opinion from his adoptive father. We pay so much attention to the motherly side of things... isn't it about time for some fatherly spotlight?


I'm careful to not over-generalize from my experience. But I can speak to my experience.

I am not certain why finding my mother was more important to me. Maybe it's because, given the little information I had for much of my life, I thought there was a good chance he had died in Vietnam. But beyond that, I felt a connection with my mother. I yearned for her in a way I didn't for him.

Maybe it goes back to my distrust of males. I've long struggled with knowing how to connect with other men. In college, I finally started to make close male friends. But even to this day, I struggle more making male friends than female friends. I'm more comfortable around women. I'm not entirely certain why that is, though I have some suspicions.

For whatever reason, I wanted to find my first mom to start. And really, I needed to. No one knew who he was. Maybe I could have figured it out, but I don't know how. I had to find her to find him. So that's what I did.

What did my adoptive father think about my search? I have no idea. Before I could even explain why I was searching, he provided his own explanation: I needed medical information. That's what he told himself, out loud, when I told him I was searching. He has never brought it up again. And the one time I brought it up, he changed the subject. He said he had no questions about it (I had asked him if he did) and then began talking about my step-brother. My adoptive father has never been very expressive. If he feels anything about it, he isn't telling me.

My adoptive mother, on the other hand, was very excited for me. I think she might have been more excited than I was. She wanted to know everything. The difference between them was day and night.

And that difference carried over into my reunion. My first mom nearly dropped everything to come up here as soon as I found her. We talked and began exchanging e-mails immediately. She has, over night it seems, become a big part of my life. It's been emotional, but very positive.

What about him? Well, if you've been reading the past couple of months, you know that after two letters, I still haven't heard a word. Whether he's chicken, or cruel, or uncertain, or whatever, he hasn't bothered to even acknowledge my letters. While I still don't really know what's going on with him, he doesn't act as though he wants anything to do with me. The silence is deafening.

So what would the play about men in reunion look like? The few men I've known directly have reunited with their mothers. The few first fathers I've known about seem to reunite with their daughters. Maybe that's just because I know more female adoptees. But doesn't that tell us something, too?

I said I didn't want to generalize. So all I can say is, if the play were made about my reunion experience, women would still be the primary players. My fathers have opted out of the dramatic tale. They are absent. The looming figure, always just off stage in the wings. I would love to have a play, a story to tell, that involved the men in my reunion. But so far, there haven't been any men in my reunion, except by their absence. And that absence tells me a lot about those men. That's not a play I want to go see.

This is not meant as criticism of the original post to which I refer. I, too, wish more men were involved in this process. I wish more men were active in their children's lives. But those men seem in short supply at the moment.

3 comments:

Mark said...

Hi Phil...

Wanted to put in my two cents... as an adoptee male.

My search didn't begin until I was 48 years old and I was looking for my mother, the one who, from the scant information, "wanted to keep me." My father was the one she wrote but who "never replied". So she was the good parent and he was the bad.

Anyway, I did meet her four years ago, and it was very emotional and very exciting. Nothing was like that moment. But I didn't think much of him. About a year later I thought, "why not look for him?"

I found a grave in Havana Cuba; but I also found his extended family in Miami. They had heard about me from him. I spoke with a colleague of his who told me that my father had talked to him about me.

He wasn't the villain I had pictured... and my mother is wonderful and bright... but keeps me hidden away from the rest of her life, so that is sad to me.

Thanks for posting on the subject. Are you the same Phil I see on Adult Adoptees forum?

phil said...

Mark, thanks for sharing a bit of your story... I keep trying to remember that he has a story to tell... It's one I'm interested in... I haven't really thought of him as much of a villain (though there are some things I'd like to hear from him)... The longer he doesn't respond, though, the more I wonder...

I am indeed, the Phil from the AAAFC forum...

Mark said...

I just finished reading Marianne Novy's READING ADOPTION. She's an adoptee herself and so pursues an application of the standpoint theory... and how one's viewpoint relates to what we see. She has the best collection of adoptee literature I've seen, including plays; most involve female adoptees, some with birth moms, some with "birth" fathers... some from the adopted parent perspective. None that I can think of... except Oedipus... involves the male adoptee and his father.

I'm probably wrong.