I am always surprised by the calls and emails I receive from adoptive dads around this time of year. One father of teenagers wrote: “Each Father’s Day as I reflect on my family and our two beautiful daughters, I think about ALL the families made possible through Barker’s presence.” Another called to read me a note written by his daughter. She was adopted through our older child program, Project Wait No Longer, and she wrote on the back of his card, “This is the first time in my 14 years that I have ever been able to trust a man. Thank you, Dad.” I don’t know why I should be surprised anymore. Clearly fathers are more engaged than ever in parenting, and clearly children and youth want more involvement and guidance from their dads.
The same holds true for birth fathers. Joyce Pavao in her classic work, The Family of Adoption, reminds us that children of adoption need to know that they are human, made just like any other human. Before they were adopted, they had “a normal gestation and birth.” Too often, says Pavao, they feel like Superman, dropped from Krypton and found in a field by the Kent family. Indeed, if many birth parents remain in the shadows, this is particularly true of birth fathers, who often feel marginalized in adoption. Fourteen years ago when I came to Barker, I remember Googling “birth fathers,” and the corrective query came back to me, “Do you mean birth mothers?” That wouldn’t happen today. Today that same search yields 45,100,000 results! Google gets it. We get it. Children of adoption think of birth fathers even if they never have a chance to meet except in heart and mind.
So this weekend, Barker celebrates all fathers. No matter whether you get a simple handmade card, or tickets to the Nationals, be sure to give your children a hug and a big thank you.
Thank you for making a difference in a child’s life. And special congrats to the Class of 2016 dads, who may be celebrating their first-ever Father’s Day.