Ask AF: An Unknown Birth Father

When the birth father is listed as 'unknown' on an adoptee's birth certificate, it's smart to plan how to discuss it with your child. The AF expert explains.

Q: Our daughter’s birth mother says she has no idea who the birth father is. We don’t know his first name or even the color of his hair. Our child’s still an infant, but we’re worried about when, and how, we explain this.

A: You have some time to think about this. Children don’t usually ask about their birth fathers until they are older, perhaps even approaching adolescence. Is it possible to learn anything more from the agency or attorney who facilitated the adoption? Even if you don’t get any specific information about the birth father, knowing more about the birth mother’s situation can help you to frame your response.

Regardless of whether you learn more, as you tell your daughter her adoption story, affirm that she, like everyone else in the world, has a birth mother and a birth father. When she begins to ask what you know about him, you can let her know that you don’t know about him and that her birth mother did not tell you about him. But ask her what she imagines, and encourage her to speculate, with you, about which traits she inherited from him. Remember that talking about adoption is as much, or more, about feelings as it is about facts.

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