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Visiting with DD's Birth Father

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

My daughter (in foster care at eight months, moved to me at nine and a half months, and adopted last November) has only seen her birth father once. She wasn't quite two so she has no memories of him, although we look at his picture every once in a while. She'll be five in the winter and still has never expressed an interest in how babies are "made" and since I'm a single mom and DS (also adopted) doesn't know his birth father, the subject doesn't come up.

 

I've always wanted contact with her birth father but circumstances haven't allowed it up to now. I got to see him in court six weeks ago when he was there for DD's baby brother's who are currently in care. He's come faithfully to all his scheduled visits with the babies and their pre-adoptive parents are planning to have frequent visits with him even after they finalize.

 

We're going to do a joint visit on Friday and I'm kind of looking forward to it and kind of nervous. He's a nice man, he's just not able to parent his kids. I know he's got a car full of gifts that he's bought for DD over the years. That should be interesting. I think that my DS will handle that ok.

 

Wish us luck.

post #2 of 57

I am hope it goes wonderfully :) I love hearing stories of healthy birth parent contact. We were not blessed with that and I think it is so important.

post #3 of 57

Good luck! I hope you can maintain a decent relationship with him and the situation with the gifts turns out ok! i can see how that might get awkward.

post #4 of 57
Thread Starter 

Since we speak different languages, we'll mostly communicate through an interpreter. I suspect, he'll mostly watch the kids play and maybe even bring some things for the kids to do at a table (like he did for his hello/goodbye visit when she was little.) They have their visits at a library and I'm hoping there's a room they go into. I cant' see how biweekly visits with two babies would work otherwise.

 

post #5 of 57

I hope it all goes well.

post #6 of 57
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I'll give an update when we get home. We've got a Pre-K Thanksgiving lunch to get through first.

post #7 of 57

Good luck!

post #8 of 57
Thread Starter 

We're home. It was way more stressful than I ever could have imagined. I'll post more later but I think this was the hardest day I've had since I started fostering.

post #9 of 57

Ugh. That sucks. :(  I was hoping more for a "that was fun, everyone had a great time!" kind of post!

post #10 of 57

hug2.gif

post #11 of 57
Thread Starter 

(Long and windy post ahead.)

 

It wasn't horrible but I think we had different expectations. We were in the children's department of a small library and there was no one there for most of the hour that we were. There was an open carpeted area with chairs around it. DD spent the first 15 minutes hiding under a chair. Mostly to be silly but I think the big hug/embrace he gave her when we got there confused her. DD is usually a really outgoing and friendly child who loves other people's daddies. This wasn't the child I saw yesterday. She was tired from school but she had no idea who this man was. We've got many "Daddy" friends and neighbors but they don't usually hold her in their arms and speak to her in a language she doesn't understand. She went from hiding under the chairs and being silly with the other kids who were there (the foster sisters and DS) to putting her head down on her stuffed bunny (at a table) and hiding her face in her hair. Eventually, I got her to look through a book. When I thought she might be receptive to people being near her, I invited the whole group over to sit at her table. Again, he sat too close to her and was stroking her hair. She shut down again. It was confusing for her and hard for me to watch.

 

He brought her a bag of clothes and a new bike. He had wanted to give her the bike when we first got there but I didn't want that. He gave it to her in the parking lot and DS was pissed because he just learned to ride a bike and HE didn't have one (he's getting one for Christmas.) And DD (who had perked up when she was playing with the foster dad and when she saw the BIKE) was crying because she knew that I would take off the training wheels. So, that part was just...great. She's not ready for a 16" bike. I'd like her to just keep using her balance bike and then move to a bigger bike when she's ready. I'd even buy her a 14" bike since that 's what would really fit her. But, of course, she loves the shiny princess bike. LOL. She cried on the way home because she said she missed him, but that's only because she gave him the bike. And DS wanted to know when he was going to meet his "Spanish family." Because he wants a bike, too. Argh.

 

He's great with DD's baby brothers because they are just that. Babies. And they'll grow up knowing him. She has no clue who he is and he wasn't able to read her signals. I can't imagine what it's like having a child  that you've only seen twice in almost five years. That would kill me. But. if we see him again, we're going to have to talk about boundaries. I made the mistake (which I own) of assuming that the visit would be like the ones we have with DS's birth family. None of the mushy,gushy, stuff. Just playing or watching the children play. Plus, I'M not touchy/feely so it was strange seeing someone that close to my child.

 

If we can work out the boundary issue, I think we'd meet (when it gets warmer) at a park or something. I know that the babies foster mom thinks that it would make it too easy for the kids to scatter and not have a "real" visit, but that's what I'd prefer. The foster mom will get it when we have a chance to talk. She's really cool and doesn't want to force anything. I love THEM and we'll see them as often as we can (there's 90 minutes between our houses.)

 

So, my expectation of visits with E. is the kids playing together (DD and DS as well as the bio sibs and pre-adoptive sisters) and some interaction with the adults when it makes sense. I do think that if he wants a relationship with DD over time, that he is going to need to make a effort to learn to speak English. She'll learn some Spanish in school and I'd like to learn it but he really needs to be able to speak to her directly. I'm not sure if he's able to do that but it's really the only way I can see it working well.

 

 

post #12 of 57

 

Well, that sounds stressful, but not as bad as I was imagining! 

 

My .02 - your DD needs more context about this touch-feely guy with the bike, and how special her relationship with him is. She needs to know that he's her birthfather, planted the seed that made her, etc. etc., and that his love for her isn't creepy or inappropriate or unusual. He's NOT your friend or your neighbor, and behavior that would righteously freak her out if the man next door tried it is behavior she can hopefully learn to be comfortable with from her dad. It's too bad dad can't ease into a bit more - but he didn't choose his limitations in life, and if there's going to be contact, then to some extent the traditionally-abled people in the triad need to accept him as he is. 

 

Also, let her keep the training wheels for a little while - they were part of the special present from her dad. If she happens to love them (which I doubt, as she's used to the smooth ride of a balance bike), even then I would not sweat it. I agree that training wheels aren't ideal, but my 5-year-old enjoys hers and I' have every confidence that she won't be using them when she's 12. 

 

I agree with you on the language issue. If I were to adopt my current foster child, I would not encourage/allow people to have any kind of conversation with him that excluded me. He's too little to know when people are playing him or lying to him, and it's my job to be able to run interference for him with anybody who might try. This is my first big issue for the GAL when we finally get one - to make sure that visitation isn't a two-hour-long private conversation where the monolingual social worker is just siting there technically "supervising," but really, letting mom say whatever crazy lies occur to her. (Tough week with Zeke's case, as though you couldn't tell from my bitter rant.) Having an interpreter attend the visitation is a solution for now - long term, the solution is you and DD gaining basic fluency in Spanish. 

 

It's really too bad that your DD wasn't able to have this visitation from babyhood on. I know that you were open to that, and I'm sorry that other factors precluded it until now. There's a lot of hard work to be done to fill in that gap in the relationship. For subsequent visits, maybe you could just bring DD and have your other kids stay with a friend or something? So you can be 100% focused on helping her out and she can enjoy her gifts without having to deal with sibling jealousy immediately? 

 

You're a great mom, Polliwog. 

post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 

She's four. She doesn't know about how babies are made, although we've got a book. She's just not ready to understand the whole egg/sperm thing and I don't like the "planting a seed" analogy. What I want is for her to get to know him as a "person we know" first and then we can delve into relationships later. She obviously wasn't liking the contact. Unwanted touch, no matter who is doing it, is not ok with me. In her four-year-old mind, he's no different than our friends or neighbors. It's hard to describe how uncomfortable it was for me, and for her.

 

I really think we need a change of venue.and some clear boundaries set. My son (and likely the babies and their pre-adoptive sisters) will be there at visits. My daughter is part of a family. I want him to see what her relationship is with her brother. She's at all the visit with his birth mother and grandmother. And I feel more comfortable having her baby brother's foster parents there. They know him more than I do, and honestly it helped ME to have some other adult to whisper to when I was feeling stressed. It's also a 90 minute drive to get there. I'm not leaving DS home while I go sixty miles away. Meeting at a park would allow the kids to play (either with him or while he watches) and limit the intense one-on-one contact that she (and I) aren't ready for. I totally get that he's missed out on almost five years of her life. But, she doesn't know that.

 

As for the bike. She'll get to ride the bike when she's ready. She's barely 40" tall (and her legs aren't that long) and is not going to be able to handle a 16" bike. And really, the training wheels are non-negotiable. She's pretty close to being able to ride a two-wheeler independently but that bike is just too big. And DS JUST learned to ride a two wheeler eight days ago. If it was a longer period of time, it would be different but it's not. He's over being upset that she got new stuff. She's going to let him ride her bike. At least for the next month until my mom gets him one for Hannukah. He was mad that she had a big bike and he didn't. I'd be mad, too. She won't fit in most of the clothes that he sent. So, she'll get to donate them to a needy family (which she'll like doing.) In the future, I'll ask him to limit what he buys for her.

 

Having an interpreter is hard. DD is too little to know that the woman is speaking for him. And really most of what he said to her was in her ear and not translated. It was better than nothing but I can see both sides needing to learn more of the other language.

 

Thanks!

post #14 of 57

 

I had no idea you were Jewish (or half-Jewish, or Jewish-affiliated, or whatever). That makes my day. luxlove.gif

 

I don't use the "planting a seed" metaphor, myself, because it makes me sound like a fertile field instead an equal DNA contributor orngtongue.gif But there must be some metaphor you can use. "In her four-year-old mind, he's no different than our friends or neighbors" - that's a big, big problem. It's not your fault and not of your making, but since you are your DD's only parent, it's right square on your shoulders to fix that by giving her an age-appropriate frame of reference. 

 

I can feel you on wanting to have the other biosiblings and their parents there. That makes sense. I really do think, though, that having your DS there at this time is stealing your focus a bit. You are worrying about his perceptions and his reactions and how the darn bike made HIM feel - and this visitation is just not. about. him. The initial hard work that needs to be done (including all those very reasonable boundaries that you want to set) does not involve him. Your daughter needs you 100% in these visits, until you either stop it because it's just not working, or the situation improves to the point where her brother can join in on a comfortable biofamily visit the way that she currently joins in on his HIS comfortable biofamily visits. She needs to be able to sit on your lap, or sit on the floor next to you, and have this strange man approach BOTH of you, and see you defend your space from scary incursions and simultaneously welcome and approve of a more-than-neighbors level of attention. It's tough stuff. It will take all your energy, and the last thing either of you need is bullpoopie about jealousy and presents on that long drive home. 

 

I may be a new foster parent, but with three biokids, I'm an old hand at saying "this is not about you, go do X, your sister needs my full attention in this moment." lol.gif

post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

I had no idea you were Jewish (or half-Jewish, or Jewish-affiliated, or whatever). That makes my day. luxlove.gif

 

I don't use the "planting a seed" metaphor, myself, because it makes me sound like a fertile field instead an equal DNA contributor orngtongue.gif But there must be some metaphor you can use. "In her four-year-old mind, he's no different than our friends or neighbors" - that's a big, big problem. It's not your fault and not of your making, but since you are your DD's only parent, it's right square on your shoulders to fix that by giving her an age-appropriate frame of reference. 

 

I can feel you on wanting to have the other biosiblings and their parents there. That makes sense. I really do think, though, that having your DS there at this time is stealing your focus a bit. You are worrying about his perceptions and his reactions and how the darn bike made HIM feel - and this visitation is just not. about. him. The initial hard work that needs to be done (including all those very reasonable boundaries that you want to set) does not involve him. Your daughter needs you 100% in these visits, until you either stop it because it's just not working, or the situation improves to the point where her brother can join in on a comfortable biofamily visit the way that she currently joins in on his HIS comfortable biofamily visits. She needs to be able to sit on your lap, or sit on the floor next to you, and have this strange man approach BOTH of you, and see you defend your space from scary incursions and simultaneously welcome and approve of a more-than-neighbors level of attention. It's tough stuff. It will take all your energy, and the last thing either of you need is bullpoopie about jealousy and presents on that long drive home. 

 

I may be a new foster parent, but with three biokids, I'm an old hand at saying "this is not about you, go do X, your sister needs my full attention in this moment." lol.gif


(bolding mine)

 

The thing is...even if dd knew and understood what "birth father" means....he is STILL a stranger to her. In fact, she would likely be MORE comfortable with "our friends or neighbors." You cant make a 4 yr old comfortable with a strange man whispering to her and pulling her into his lap simply by saying they are blood related. And given that the child does not have an adoptive father in her life, she can't even transfer those daddy feelings to him, she can't think "oh this man is like Daddy, only he's my birth daddy!"...I know exactly what this is like because my almost-4-yr old son doesnt at all get he has "another mommy", i tried explaining what a birthmother is, and i will keep explaining but right now they are words with no meaning. OTOH, when i told him he has an uncle (really a great-uncle) who visited him as a baby, he could almost understand that because he has other uncles, some of whom he has not met and he seemed to get that more.

 

As far as the DS goes. Again, i can relate. One (of many) reasons why im not yet pursuing any type of birthfather contact for one of my sons, is that i am not quite sure how to handle it was the other son. It would be truly awful to have one son showered with attention and gifts and the other have nothing. At least during foster visits, if bmom brought food or even gifts for her children, she brought something for mine(which i certainly didnt expect!) But with bdad, he would bring fun toys, unload them in the waiting room, then pack them up to go into the visitation room leaving my son crying because he couldnt understand where the toys went. Or he'd give one a twinkie right in front of my son, and my son could not understand why they shared EVERYTHING otherwise, but not there. I'm not doing that for the next many years. I know someone online who made it clear to birthfamily, you do for one you do for the other. You dont come for a visit and bring a gift for one and not the other (her kids, too, are virtual twins as mine are, which i think makes it harder.)

 

IMO the issue isnt so much that her DS' feelings were hurt, but rather he KNOWS what the steps are in their family to getting a certain type of bike, and having little sister simply bypass all that probably struck him as very unfair. Imagine that in your family, girls can get their ears pierced at 8 yrs old, its a big deal. Then little 4 yr old sister goes on a bfamily visit, and comes back with pierced ears and diamond earrings. Older sister would rightly be upset and mom would rightly wonder how to handle such things in the future. Obviously a bike isnt as "serious"...but overwhelming a child with gifts the first time you meet them isnt the best way to handle the situation, and hopefully they can find someone to help this man understand that he needs to slow down a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #16 of 57
Thread Starter 

Our family is made up of several religions. We observe both a secular Christmas and many Hannukah traditions. I have also taught in two different religious preschools.

 

DS is 7 and you can believe that he's been working hard mastering the skills it takes to ride a bike. He's been riding DD's KaZAM (balance) bike and his scooter. He's been occasionally riding a neighbor's two wheeler but he preferred to raise the adjustable seat on the balance bike a bit and ride that down the hill. Getting on my nephew's two wheeler and being able to ride it independently within FIVE MINUTES was a hard earned/much prized skill for him. Both kids know the steps of bike riding in our family. I compare it more to car ownership. Suppose the family rule is that you may have your own car when you are able to get your license and drive independently. Your oldest child gets his license and is about to get his new (likely used car.) But, then someone gives your younger child a car, for a reason that doesn't make sense to your older child. Is it fair to let the younger child practice driving on her new car before she has earned her license? I say no. We don't have a lot on ongoing traditions and rites of passage in my family. This is really the first big one. The bike is too big, with or without training wheels. She can, however, use the Dora helmet that she's in love with.

 

He is a stranger to her. Strangers do not initiate really close contact. He didn't say anything to her that wasn't really close to her ear, If it was MY father, whom I've known for over 40 years, I would have felt uncomfortable. Even when I was a child. Even if it was my mother and not my father.Obviously there are different cultural norms in play here. My family is loving but not the overtly touchy/feeling type. DD is a very independent kid. She likes hugs and kisses but not many and is mostly on the go. She's never had someone talking to her, or sitting that close, who wasn't me. And this isn't a foster care visit. I can allow, or not allow, types of contact. She has NEVER seen this type of close contact. From anyone- family, close friends, etc.If he wants to see her, then he's going to have to do what she needs.

 

Here's an example that just came to me. Suppose you were a single parent and had been dating someone for an extended period of time. You decided that you think it's the right time for your children to meet this person that you think you might want to spend your life with. You would likely keep the visits casual and allow your children and your SO to get to know each other. You would likely follow your children's cues and end a visit/outing when you see that they aren't feeling comfortable. This man may be her birth father but she doesn't understand that. "Birth father" means nothing to her. He's a stranger that Mommy wants her to meet.

 

I'm looking at this from an ongoing perspective. It's not like she's a foster child who we are preparing to be reunified with a parent she doesn't know. She's an adopted kid who is part of a family. that maintains contact with some birth family members. She doesn't need to be stressed out. She's four.

post #17 of 57

 

"...overwhelming a child with gifts the first time you meet them isnt the best way to handle the situation, and hopefully they can find someone to help this man understand that he needs to slow down a bit."

 

I totally agree of that one.

 

Polliwog, I am under the impression (perhaps erroneous) that your DD's biodad is developmentally disabled. This may be affecting my perspective unduly? 

 

post #18 of 57

Polliwog,

 

I am sorry the visit was so stressful.  It is so hard when birthparents try to overcompensate and make bad choices.  Hopefully things will get easier.  I agree that parks and zoo are better places to visit with older kids.  The other thing that works for us is some sort of craft project, so there is something to do besides being awkard.  You are fighting the good fight for your little girl.  I hope it gets easier : )

post #19 of 57

I totally agree about stressing a child.  A child who was removed at a young age is very different from a child who remembers their birthparents.  It would completely stress out my daughter to meet her birthfather and that is not something that would be good for her at this point in her life.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

I'm looking at this from an ongoing perspective. It's not like she's a foster child who we are preparing to be reunified with a parent she doesn't know. She's an adopted kid who is part of a family. that maintains contact with some birth family members. She doesn't need to be stressed out. She's four.



 

post #20 of 57

This is not a stranger, this is her birth father. I would step outside yourself for a minute and examine how he feels.  How you dd will feel later. Adoption should be talked about at an early age- much earlier then 4. Your dd does understand if you would explain it to her. She knows babys grow in tummy's. You can make it age appropriate but you do need to tell her. 

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