An Open Letter To Our Future Child’s Birthfather

This guest post is by Ethan Brooks-Livingston, a hopeful adoptive father.

open-letter-to-expectant-father-adoptionAs Father’s Day approaches this year, it has taken on an almost-mythic status in my mind.

I look forward to my first (and subsequent) Father’s Days with more anticipation than any day I can think of.

It’s bigger than Christmas. And it’s not because I expect and need praise for being a dad. Father’s Day is a celebration of family.

This will be my second Father’s Day since my wife and I started the adoption process. It’s quite a while longer since we started dreaming of parenthood.

It’s getting harder to see that day in June coming and know that this year won’t be the one, either – nope, not yet.

Of all the things there are to say about this Great Wait, good and bad, I’ll bet those of you who have been there (or are there now) probably agree with me: if anything, there is certainly a lot of time to think.

Lately, one person has occupied a lot of space in my mind – it’s the guy I’ll forever share Father’s Days with, one way or another — our child’s birth father.

The more I wonder about him, the more I think of things that I want to say to him – that I hope I have a chance to say.

Right now, before any adoption has taken place, before a child has been born, before any match or meeting, even – because for all we know he doesn’t yet know we even exist – right now, he’s just a guy.

He might not even be an expectant father yet.

Whoever he is, wherever he is, he’s a much-hoped-for, but still only figurative person to us.

But one day, I hope we’ll meet him, this guy who will become our child’s birth father, maybe while he is still considering what an open adoption would look like and mean for him.

Before he has a face we know and can see in our child, before we know his name or anything about him, I decided to write him a letter, as another Father’s Day comes near, in the hopes of future solidarity of a shared fatherhood.

My Open Letter To An Expectant Father

What you’re going through right now – I’ve never been there. I don’t have any idea of what your life has been like up to now, how you came to be who you are, or anything about your dreams for your future.

I don’t know how you feel about the fact that you and your partner are expecting a baby. I don’t know how involved you’ve wanted to be or have been able to be in the decision-making process throughout your partner’s pregnancy.

I don’t know if you want or feel able to know the child that will share your DNA. I don’t know if you even want to know me.

I’ve thought about you so often since my wife and I made the decision that we wouldn’t let our struggles with infertility slam the door on our dream of sharing our lives with a child.

Just as I wondered how parenthood will change our lives, I wonder the news of your partner’s pregnancy has created change in your life.

Do you have a support system right now? Who is listening to you, giving you advice and comfort?

As I wonder how you’re coping with what might be the biggest decision of your life, a constant thought is what it will be like to share fatherhood with you. You, this person I don’t know, but to whom I already feel connected, somehow.

You, this person who will always be present in my – our – someday son or daughter, in a smile, an expression, a talent. You, this person who will be a child’s birth father, giving someone else the opportunity to be a dad.

I wonder how strong the tie between us – the link of fatherhood – will be.

You will always be our child’s birth father, and I will always be our child’s dad. He or she will know that from an early age. What will that mean to that child? To me? To you?

As a person who hopes to become a dad through adoption, I always knew that another father would be part of the story of our family.

Right now, even before we have the tie of a child binding us together, I want you to know that I have a lot of hopes for you. I hope you can find community among adoptive and hopeful adoptive dads, and other birth fathers.

I hope that you have the opportunity to be a part of making the decisions that will change your life – and your child’s – forever.

I hope that you feel able to – and want – to know this child, who has started his or her life being so much a part of you.

I hope you can realize your dreams for your future and can live a life without regret. I hope that we can know each other and can watch this little life grow in front of us.

This letter mentions the word “hope” pretty frequently.

Hope has been a big part of our dream of parenthood.

So far, adoption has been a journey of hope more than anything else. We hope that we can be parents, and that we’ve made the right decisions to get there.

And we know that for our hopes to be realized, someone else – you – must face a decision that you probably hoped you would never have to make, as you worry about making the right choices for yourself and your future.

I respect the gravity of that decision and what it means for both of our lives, yours and mine, for the lives of our family members, and for the child at the center of the decision.

I don’t know if anyone can make what you’re going through any easier.

I hope you find comfort in knowing who we are and that we wish the best for you.

I hope it’s clear that we already care about you, sight unseen, and we want you to be a part of this child’s life and our family.

I hope that the first father’s day we share, while bittersweet, is a happy one.

In the meantime, I hope the best for you. And, of course, I hope to meet you soon.

Ethan is the co-writer (with his wife, Angela), of their personal open adoption blog, The Littlest Brooks-Livingston, which chronicles the occasionally trying, sometimes humorous, and always introspective dips and curves in the road to bringing home their first child through open adoption.  Ethan and Angela, both recovering English majors who have since moved on to other (more employable) opportunities, reside in Western North Carolina.  

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