There have been times in our lives that have been extremely difficult as adoptive parents.....one of the worst was when the biological father of our second daughter appeared one day.
I remember that it was a Sunday....it had started out as a regular Sunday.....we had all gone to church...we hadn't been home long, and we were in the process of getting our lunch when the phone rang. Sixteen year old Lauren answered the phone, the person on the phone was a man asking for Don. After Don got off the phone he took me down to the bedroom and closed the door.....I was alarmed ...wondering what the heck was going on! He said the man on the phone, his name was Brian, that he was all the way from British Columbia......that he was Lauren's biological father......
That he wanted to meet with us.
These words put a cold chill of fear into our hearts. Lauren was the little girl that we had gone to court for all those years ago, when the father refused to come to Ontario. Unfortunately, all those years ago, the father had found out our names, and where we lived. He must have held onto that information because now he was staying at a motel about five minutes drive away. He claimed that he didn't want to see Lauren, he just wanted to talk to us. Of course, that wasn't true. In great fear and trepidation, we arranged to meet him that evening at a local coffee shop.
He was waiting for us when we got there...a tall, thin man ...he looked like he had seen better days. Apparently , his mother had passed away recently, and this spurred him on to find Lauren. We talked for about an hour, him asking questions...we were reticent to answer, we didn't want to reveal to much. I had slipped a recent picture of Lauren into my pocket before I left the house. Near the end of the meeting, after he had been asking what she looked like, I asked him if he'd like to see a picture. I pulled the picture out and he stared in surprise. He claimed that she looked just like her older sister that had lived with him.
As we drove home we discussed our options....which were few.
Everything in our hearts and minds, told us not to do anything....to let this man fly back to British Columbia, to let us go back to our lives the way we were. We struggled with this decision. Our greatest concern, if we did that, would be if Lauren found out. Legally, this man didn't have any rights to Lauren, he shouldn't have even approached us or Lauren until she was eighteen. But.....and it was a huge but......out of all our adoptive kids, Lauren was the only one that ever expressed the desire to 'know who she looked like'......when she'd come out with this, I would always try to put her off by saying that she got her curly hair and her crooked tooth...(Don has always had curly hair and one eye tooth that was a little out of alignment).... from her dad..(Don)....of course, she was never satisfied with that answer...she had known all along that she was adopted, and she wanted to know who she looked like...it was very important to her and many tears had been shed over this very fact over the years.
The other piece of news that Brian shared with us was that Lauren's biological mother had passed away a number of years ago....since Lauren was little, and this is not uncommon for adoptive kids,....she had always wondered if her bio mom had remembered her at her birthday or Christmas...if she had thought of her at special occasions ...graduation and such....she had envisioned one day, sitting down with her and talking about these special moments....but now, we also had to tell Lauren that this wouldn't be happening. We had to tell her that this woman, that she had dreamt about for all these years, had passed away when Lauren was about three years old.
With heavy hearts, we arrived back home. We knew the answer. We knew that if we let this man return home, without Lauren meeting him...and down the road, after she was eighteen, and he showed up ...again.....and she found out......we knew, we just knew that she would never forgive us.
We all sat down in the living room and told Lauren. We knew how strongly it impacted her by her response and the stricken look on her face.....she asked what he wanted. We told her, just to meet her....if she wanted to. She asked if he had mentioned about her birth mother.....we tried to gently break the news to her...the news that she had already died . She was devastated.
Lauren did decide to meet Brian....we arranged for the meet at my sisters home. Our oldest son Ryan, wanted to be there and drove over from where he lived....a little town called Aurora, about an hour and a half away. Our oldest daughter Leslie, who had been present when we told Lauren the news , waited at home with Don.
While the visit happened , I sat in the kitchen with my sister....on pins and needles....waiting....just waiting.
When the visit was finally over, Ryan drove Brian back to his motel. I can't remember if Brian and Lauren visited again but there were subsequent phone calls....Lauren was invited to fly to B.C. for part of Christmas break, to meet her sister and extended family out there. She was very excited, we were cautious.
The next few months passed quickly. Unfortunately, all this happening had an overwhelming affect on Lauren's school work. She did quite poorly. She had difficulty concentrating....
Christmas break came and we put Lauren on a plane for British Columbia. Unfortunately, Don also had a business trip, so he left too. It was a very difficult time.
Lauren was pleased to meet her sister but unfortunately the rest of the visit didn't go well at all. There were many phone calls back and forth ....the birth father, could be more appropriately named 'the sperm donor' ...he was definitely not a father, or a dad or anything....he became verbally abusive and Lauren called us in tears. Don was stranded in Buffalo, due to the weather, waiting for his flight out west in the states. I desperately needed him here with me as I listened to Lauren, frightened and upset, on the phone , thousands of miles away.
She returned home a different young lady....her behaviour plummeted as well as her grades at school. At the end of the first semester, at the end of January, the school office called. They were putting her in a special program that took place at another location...it was called Super school...it was anything but super. We worked with Lauren to get her grades up and by the end of the school year I went in with Lauren to the school office to request that she be put back into the regular school. They agreed and she was very relieved to begin her final year of highschool back amongst her friends.
It was an extremely horrible time for all of us. We were all profoundly affected by what happened as a result of that Sunday phone call.
Lauren has maintained a distant but caring relationship with her older sister. It has not been without difficulties though as the sister was greatly damaged by her father, and sought refuge in a life of drugs and transient living. Even thought she was able to break from this lifestyle, the lasting damage is evident in her speech and actions. Lauren's contact with Brian is strained and she really hasn't any desire to have a relationship with him.
When we chose to adopt, we always knew that there was a chance of our children meeting up with birth families when they were older. We always thought we'd support them, we always thought we would. It is difficult, you want them to be happy, you understand their need to seek out birth families....but I always remember the words of a young man who grew up in the foster care system.....when the subject of contacting birth families came up, he said.....' There's a reason that kids are taken away from birth families and put in foster care and adopted.....in most situations, the reason never changes' in other words...the birth family usually doesn't change over the years, the reasons that they couldn't parent all those years ago usually doesn't change.....they are still not ready or able to be parents....
And unfortunately in this case, it was true. The happily ever after adoption/ birth reunion stories you see on television are rare......
One of our other kids met up with his birth family also....but that is another story to tell.