When my husband and I first started dating, he was well aware of my adoption story. We have known each other since we were young, but didn’t start dating until our mid-twenties. While he did not know about all the details, my adoption story wasn’t something I needed to reveal to him. He went into our relationship with a basic understanding of what happened and what led to my decision to place, but he was unaware of just how much my adoption story impacted my life. He didn’t know what it would be like to be married to a Birth Mother.

At the time, I was also unaware of how much my adoption impacted my life, especially within the context of dating, marriage, and parenting. There were many aspects of my adoption I had not processed yet, and I was still very selective about who knew. Through regular discussions, and sometimes debates, we’ve been able to develop a deep understanding of how my adoption story influences our relationship and the way we parent our sons.

With Father’s Day coming up, I wanted to get his opinion on how being married to a Birth Mother plays a role in his life and in our relationship. The following interview is our conversation.

How does being married to a Birth Mother influence your concept of fatherhood?

It makes me appreciate fatherhood more. I feel very lucky to have my kids in my life, because I know that placing a child is an incredibly hard decision. Being exposed to you and your experience, I feel so blessed to raise my boys. I know there are a lot of people who don’t get that opportunity.

Do you ever worry about how my experience might affect our approach to parenting together?

No, I don’t worry about that. I know that you have placed a child and therefore have lost and continue to lose a lot of moments with your daughter, so I feel you’re less at risk of taking our kids for granted. I know you also feel blessed to parent our children together.

Have you encountered any challenges or concerns related to being married to a Birth Mother?

I know that because of your placement, you have a constant open wound. Now, you’re not crying over it every day, but it does bring you pain and because I know more about adoption, I’m more sensitive to some of the things that might be hard for you. Because you are forced to relive the decisions you made in the work you do, you experience new hurts that you have to deal with. You know more and learn more about adoption as you go and are exposed to a lot more information and stories. You want to make things better but to make things better you have to constantly face things head on and that can’t always be easy. I’ve had to learn how to support you as you support others because what you do is so valuable.

What support or resources do you feel would be helpful for you as you navigate fatherhood being married to a Birth Mother and my past experience with adoption?

It would be nice to talk to someone who has gone before me to hear of their pitfalls and how to better support their wife who is a Birth Mother, because I won’t know those things until I get there. I think I’ve done a pretty good job supporting you but there’s always room to learn more.

Weve known each other for a long time, and you were well aware of my adoption. While we didnt start dating until I was about five years post placement, youve known about my adoption from the beginning. How did you initially feel when we first started dating and in turn got married?

I knew there was a part of your heart that was somewhere else. On top of that, I knew that was going to be something that took a toll on you. Because I knew from the beginning, there wasn’t a lot of shock. I wasn’t angry or concerned about it or anything, it’s just something that’s a part of you. It was just something that I accepted and loved early on.

Has your perspective on this changed since we got married? If so, how?

I didn’t look down on you or think you were a bad person, but my perspective has deepened and therefore has changed. I understand it so much more now and how important it is for the child to know where they came from and how important support is for Birth Mothers. I’ve seen a transformation in you from the beginning where you had no support to now where you have the most support. I’ve been able to ride along this journey next to you and experience it with you. It’s been huge for me, and I think for both of us. It has been crazy to see the transformation. It has transformed my thought process and how I feel about adoption. My heart has grown for triad members, and I have a strong sense of passion to share my new lens on adoption. It’s a very strong sense of justice because a lot of people just don’t get it. They don’t get how important it is for a Birth Mother to be connected to their child, for their child. The most important person is that child and everyone wants them to have the best life and be in the best situation possible. That can’t happen without the Birth Mother being involved or available.

Have you felt any societal pressure or judgment because youre married to a Birth Mother?

You can’t deny that there is a stigma about being a Birth Mother. When I tell people that you placed for adoption, I don’t have any shame in saying that because you don’t have any shame. But I can tell when they are taken aback for a second because all the stigmas flood their mind. No one’s ever said anything nasty or mean to me, but I know that people have probably thought negatively about it. But by me being confident about it and seeing the good that has come from it, and you being involved, it has benefited us and our family. So, if anyone ever has any issues, they can just get over it because that’s not on me and that’s not on you either.

Are there specific moments that make you reflect on my adoption more deeply?

Your whole pregnancy with our first son was overly stressful because of what you had been through. Both pregnancies were very traumatic and therefore traumatic for me, and I had to watch you go through it. During those moments it caused you to fully face that hurt and that wound, so that was hard to watch. It affected our marriage and I felt slightly robbed of the joy of you being pregnant. I thought being pregnant was going to be a joyous time, but it wasn’t because you had a lot of hurt from your prior situation. Learning about Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day and how it impacts you was an adjustment as well. Whenever your spouse is going through a hard time, and life isn’t exactly hunky-dory, I had to learn how to navigate it and be sensitive too. We both come from families where we like our moms, so Mother’s Day was a celebration. Mother’s Day for us is a half day of celebration and half day of mourning. It just magnifies the mourning state you are in for your child.

Do you feel comfortable discussing this topic with me? If not, what could help make it easier for you?

I feel very comfortable talking about adoption and your daughter with you. I think we already went through the hard parts in the beginning of our relationship. Now, talking about adoption is more a learning thing. I like when we talk about it and collaborate and share our perspectives.

Are there any misconceptions or assumptions you think people might have about our relationship because of this aspect of our past?

When people hear our story, I think…I’m not sure how to say this without sounding condescending…but I think that people look at me and they’re like, “It’s so cool that he didn’t write her off because she’s got a past.” There are some people who will think negatively of you and put me on a pedestal for marrying you. But I also think there are people who feel you are incredibly brave and everything in between. It’s a reason why I talk about it confidently and talk about the things you have done and are doing because I want to fight those misconceptions. Because the more people who can let go of those misconceptions, the more people there will be to fight for these kids and their mothers.

How can we best support each other as we navigate the complexities of this situation together?

Continue to communicate and be aware of what each other is dealing with – your hurt affects me so your circumstance is my circumstance, and it’s not easy to watch your wife hurt. Small example, Mother’s Day is totally different. Do I wish it were different? Yes, but you are going through it and I need to be aware of how it makes you feel. Am I angry about it? No. But I’ve had to learn that how your adoption impacts our marriage is not just about me. I’ve had to learn how to love you the way you need me to.