What are you going to do about your father? My birth relatives asked me.
Truthfully, I had not really considered him over the years. My total focus was on meeting my birthmom, not the man who probably skated off into the sunset scot-free. But now, Mom K gave me his name. Now I had some idea of the man. In my imagination, not all of it was endearing, but much of it was. For instance, many of my Aunts knew him and thought he was a terrific guy, potentially a "great catch." He and his buddies visited their home frequently and were always jovial, singing raucous Irish songs and carrying on. Apparently, my maternal grandfather really enjoyed birthdad as well, saying that he "came from good Catholic stock." Still, part of me felt that reaching out to b-dad might be disloyal to mom. After all, on paper it appeared that he left her in the lurch, even attempting not cover a few expenses owed to Catholic Charities for prenatal care. Hard to believe that women in the sixties actually had to pay to place their babies for adoption. Reconciling the disparate depictions of this man took some soul-searching. Finally decided that if I were truthful with myself and others about the importance of unearthing medical and genealogical information for my children, then I needed to overcome my ambivalence and reach out. Little did I know the depth of joy and self-discovery that would come from our reunion. Though I new his name and occupation, it took awhile to find him.
Before I asked my case worker to send a letter, naturally, I did some Internet research on this guy. I knew he was a dentist, but no one knew where he currently lived. A young dentist sharing his name came up on all of my Google searches, as did the CEO of Boeing. Louise, my best friend from college, finally cracked the case and found his name and picture in a dental association publication in California. He was listed as the editor. From there, I found his wife and daughter on Facebook. They appeared so happy and beautiful! His wife's profile picture included b-dad. See below. Ironically, when I showed the picture to my children and asked them to name the person, they said Granddaddy (my husband's father)! Yes, my b-dad looks VERY much like my father-in-law. Wonder what Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky would think! Admittedly, I made a few assumptions about b-dad based on his profession and appearance: conservative, Lexus owner, country club go-er, Republican. Boy, was I wrong!
The day after receiving my certified letter via Catholic Charities, b-dad phoned in. Well, I certainly didn't expect such a speedy response or any response for that matter. Once he confirmed that the whole situation was legit and not just one of those "send me money from Africa" hoaxes, he told my case worker that he would like contact and that I should call him. Call him? Really? Just jump right in there, huh? No emailing for months, getting to know each other slowly, just jump right in?
With clammy fingers, I dialed his number. The most hilarious voice message rang in my ears! It sounded exactly like my voicemail, a sing-songy, chirpy tone. Weird...in a good way. He called me back a few minutes later and we were "off to the races."
Without the benefit of long email exchanges, our first conversations were quite interesting! B-dad just dove right in with all sorts of personal questions: "Are you a single mom?" "Do you have a mental illness?" Somehow I was not offended. Surprised, yes. Caught off guard, yes. Offended, no. After those questions,something clicked and I thought, "Okay, looks like no questions are off limits here!" So I shot a few back at him. Actually, I barely needed to ask anything. He was an unfiltered, open book.
After sharing a few intimate details of the courtship between mom and him, I shook my head like, "Is he really telling me this? Do I really need to know this? TMI Dad!"
His side of the story did cast the slightest bit of doubt regarding paternity. If he wasn't convinced of back then, why would he be convinced now? Both of us could see a resemblance in the photos we shared, but I wasn't 100% convinced. Yes, b-dad emailed and chatted as if nothing were amiss, but I needed proof. After a couple of weeks, I suggested we take a paternity test to which he happily agreed! We each took the test, then he and his amazing wife took a trip overseas for three weeks. More waiting! I would have an answer in June, just weeks before a giant reunion with birthmom's family. I knew there would be questions and I wanted to talk about b-dad as my dad with total confidence. The results came in THE NIGHT before the reunion. Yes, I was sweating bullets!
Coming up: The Results are In