Gabriel’s birthfather lives in Texas. I am sure of that. As a matter of fact, I have his full contact info, should I want to contact him. And something about holidays, especially Father’s Day, always brings up the subject of whether or not I should.
When we were placed with Gabriel, through foster care, he had two fathers on paper – a ‘legal’ father, the man his birth mother was married to at the time of his birth, and a ‘biological’ father – the man listed on the birth certificate. His legal father quickly relinquished his rights, but his birth father did not. The state contacted him directly through certified mail, ‘published’ for him and contacted his extended relatives, requesting he take a paternity test. But, no response from him.
The state moved their case forward, after 3 years of waiting for him to respond, and begun the process of terminating his rights. After all, there had been no word from this man in over three years.
Jeff and I got to court one spring morning, anxious for the judge to terminate his biological father’s rights *this* time – the last piece in the puzzle to Gabriel being legally free. When we arrived, our social worker greeted us.
“I have bad news,” she started. It seemed every time we talked to her those days that is how it went. “We heard from Gabriel’s biological father, and he completed the paternity test yesterday.”
“What were the results?” Jeff and I asked immediately – if it didn’t prove paternity, then we had nothing to fear.
“I don’t know, I don’t have the results yet, I just heard from the lab that he came to the appointment. But there is more bad news.”
Jeff and I held our breath.
“Our regular judge is sick today. We expect that the substitute judge will rule to wait to see the results of the birth father’s paternity test. He won’t terminate his parental rights today.”
Jeff and I were sick. But, given that this is how the entire process was going for us; we weren’t surprised. We sat down and waited to be called into the court room to see what would happen.
When our case was announced, we went in and took a seat. The judge came to our case on the docket and from behind his large wooden desk at the front of the room, started to review our paperwork. Our social worker stood up to address the court, “After not hearing from him for the last 3 years, he took the paternity test at the 11th hour yesterday.”
The judge looked over the paperwork, and Jeff and I sat close together, holding hands, on the bench in the corner.
Then the Judge started talking, “It is my ruling that since we don’t have the results to review at this hearing, he waited too long. I am terminating his parental rights.”
Jeff and I looked from the judge to the social worker, who looked over her shoulder and smiled at us.
That was it. One sentence, one morning, and the waiting was over.
Gabriel was legally free.
After going through the adoption finalization process, they disclosed everything to us about his birth father that they knew, including that his sister had pushed him into taking the paternity test because she wanted to adopt Gabriel. But also little things like how much he liked to work on cars.
That little bit of info, combined with the full disclosure of his address, and family’s addresses, has remained on my mind ever since.
Should I contact him?
My gut is yes – I should contact him. Yes, I should to at least ask questions. Get photos.
But, there is always so much going on in our lives. Gabriel struggles so much with autism, sensory processing disorder, bipolar, learning disabilities and more. Will this just add stress to his life? Or worse yet, will his birth father understand Gabriel’s challenges? Accept them?
I always stop shy of contacting him. I just feel like my ‘plate’ is so full of everything else, and Gabriel’s is too.
I am not sure that either of us could handle it.
But then again, maybe he would just send photos…and when Gabriel starts asking about his biological father (a subject he hasn’t ever brought up at this point), I would have something to show him, and maybe even some answers.
Answers would be good, because I have a lot of questions. Does Gabe’s birth father have other kids? Is he thinking of Gabriel? Does Gabriel look like him? Does Gabriel act like him? What is his version of Gabriel’s birth story?
There are times that I see my biological boys with my husband and the resemblance is just uncanny. From their physical features, to their expressions, mannerisms and way of looking at the world – that I can’t help but think there is a man out there that shares those things with Gabriel.
Don’t I need to find him? To say something to express my deep gratitude and love for being able to raise a child he created? I don’t have the words for that, but it seems I should at least start with Happy Father’s Day.
Feel free to give me advice – I need it!