This week we celebrate dads of all kinds – birth fathers, adoptive fathers, step-fathers and father figures. All fathers are an integral part of a child’s identity – from giving them the genes that determine how high they grow, to giving them the esteem to determine how high they reach. Amara would like to encourage all foster and adoptive families to honor dads on behalf of children everywhere.
Including birth fathers in your celebration can come in many ways and can be as unique as your family. While there are some resources about including birth mothers in celebrations, there is an overall lack of them in terms of recognizing birth fathers. Many of the same ideas used to incorporate birth moms who are not currently involved in a child’s life can be used for birth fathers or other relatives:
- Be curious – ask your child how their parents celebrated this day and how they would like to incorporate their birth parents this year. Your child’s desire to include birth parents may change over months or years, so keep asking.
- Make suggestions for remembering and honoring birth parents during celebrations – making cards or pictures, baking something special, creating a ceremony. Don’t forget that in honoring your child’s birth parents, you are honoring your child’s uniqueness too. Bringing them into regular conversations and mentioning them on special days lets children know they do not have to be forgotten and that they are welcome to talk about all of the people who have played an important role or had an impact on their lives.
- If your child is too young or you struggle with how to celebrate birth fathers, we encourage you to read Out of the Shadows: Birthfather’s Stories, by Mary Martin Mason. This book highlights why birth fathers are important and how their inclusion in adoptions and openness is a different journey than for birth moms. It challenges us all to consider how we may honor birth dads in a deeper way.
If your child’s parents are active in your family life, think about ways to celebrate together or how to give each parent separate time to be recognized and honored. It can be hard to “share” these special days, but we encourage our foster and adoptive families to remember that it can be equally hard on birth parents to not be recognized as an important part of your child’s existence.
In adoption, it is important that both birth parents and adoptive parents are compassionate towards each other, especially on these celebration days. Staying open, adjusting your expectations, and trying to honor the emotions of all parents as well as those of your child, will help everyone to feel valued and respected.
This Sunday, Amara recognizes the strength and courage it takes to be a dad in the adoption triad, and we wish all dads a Happy Father’s Day!