11 years ago I was a single mom with two kids. I had figured out how to balance work, home and co-parenting with the father of my youngest child. But an emotional crisis for my oldest, who was four at the time, forced me to quit my job and stay home to support her full time.
Just a month later, I met and started dating my now husband of over 10 years.
He often jokes that he fell in love with our oldest two children before he fell in love with me, something that only made me love him that much more.
Being a single mom with children from two separate fathers had pushed me into a stereotypical mold; a mold that I hated being pressed into. But after meeting my husband, I saw an opportunity to bust out of that mold and try to piece it back together into a form more resembling a path I wished my life had taken.
Just a few years into our marriage, we sought to have my husband legally adopt both children. Both biological fathers easily agreed to sign their legal rights over after our lawyer and I outlined the many benefits they would both receive. I highlighted the end to child support as the main attraction. For one of them, the back support had nearly reached $25,000, an amount I knew we would never see no matter the outcome.
The other had been newly married, ready to start his own nuclear family. In an effort to get what I wanted, I sold him on the opportunity to start his family without the burden of supporting another child who did not need his financial contribution.
While both biological fathers agreed to the adoption, we held different visitation arrangements with each. My daughter’s biological father had not had contact with her before, and would continue to not have contact after.
My son’s biological family was different though. While we were not able to put anything into the adoption decree, we were able to give them reassurance that they could see him whenever they wanted. This arrangement has worked wonderfully for several years. He spends the weekend at his grandmother’s house every couple of months, and sees his biological father and half siblings a couple times a year.
But last month life happened. Somehow I had not predicted that it would. My son’s biological father separated from his wife and moved back home with his mother. All of a sudden his requests to see our son skyrocketed. It all happened so fast that my husband and I hadn’t even had the time to talk about how we should approach the subject.
Our son is now 13. He’s at an age when making decisions about life are coming at him from every angle. And my husband and I are hard pressed to find a reason to not let him foster a larger relationship with his biological father.
In my husband’s mind he is our children’s father first and foremost. The same goes for me. And while I had thought I could create a mold of what I wanted our family to look like all those years ago, I’m finding that the mold is changing it’s shape more as time goes on.
I’m still a proponent of stepparent adoption, and I know my husband would say the same. But I wish we could go back and change our mindset and our definition of it from the beginning. Over time I’ve come to realize that as much as I’d like for my children to only see their identity in whom there adopted father is, not only will they see it however they like, they should be seeing it in someone else entirely.
John says it nicely here: John 1:12-13, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Clearly I’ve had it wrong from the beginning, but I’m just hoping that as the mold of my life changes, that I’ll be able and willing to change along with it.
Esther, thank you for opening up and being vulnerable with us. As a parent, I’ve made decisions and than realized later, that I wish I could go back and have a do-over. I’m learning, just as my kids are learning. We do our best with the experiences and what we’ve learned and then we learn some more. I tend to play the guilt trip card on myself, but I’m working on letting that go, knowing that I’ve done my best. That’s all I can do. How blessed your kids are to have an adoptive dad that dove full in!
Yes, the guilt trip is something I’m very familiar with!
If only life were more like golf and we could have unlimited mulligan’s!! 🙂