Ask AF: Reaching Out to the Birth Father

How can we increase the openness of our relationship with our son's birth father?

Q: We’ve met our 9-month-old son’s birth father only twice, though we see his birth mother frequently. As far as we know, this young man’s parents don’t yet know about our son. He responds to our e-mails, yet seems reluctant to meet our son. How can we increase the openness of our relationship with him?

A: Open adoption relationships are not one-size-fits-all, and they evolve over time. What works for your son’s birth mother may not be right for his birth father. Try not to compare the two.

Does the birth father live with his parents? Depending on their attitudes about sex before marriage and unplanned pregnancy, his reluctance to discuss your son with his parents may be well-founded. Talk with him about this.

Bearing these considerations in mind, if you’d like to suggest a visit, choose a venue where he would feel at ease. This might be a park or a museum, depending on his interests.

The activity will lessen the pressure and fill in some spaces. Talk about the role you see him playing in your son’s life, giving concrete examples of what that means to you.

Also, let him know how much you appreciate his commitment so far. His involvement is indicative of the love he has for your son, and it should be commended. –Brenda Romanchik

A: It sounds as though the birth father is not ready to handle a relationship with your son or a more intense relationship with you at this point. This may change, but you must respect his decision.

It’s also possible that he won’t change his mind, and, in case he doesn’t, you should try to get information about him for your son now. When you speak or write to the birth father, ask him to tell you about his interests and talents, as well as his medical history.

See if he’s willing to write a letter that your son can read when he’s older, or ask him to give you photographs taken at different times in his life. –Vicki Peterson

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