I’ve always carried around a terrible guilt. One I have never mentioned here on my blog.
A guilt that, next to the fact that I have three sons who I believe should always have the right to be a father, pushes me to fight for father’s rights, to detest those who try and take them away from any man who wants to raise his child.
In the last few months of my pregnancy, my husband (boyfriend at that time) was in California. He was sixteen when he left and felt like the weight of the world was bearing down on his shoulders. So, yes, he was one of those that ran. And his running took him across state lines.
It didn’t take long though for him to call and reach out to me. Within a couple weeks after he left, we were talking daily on the telephone and as my due date approached, he made the decision to come home.
Unfortunately, I went into labor while he was on the road with his stepfather, heading back. As soon as he found out I had given birth to his son, he called me in the hospital and told me something that, at that time in my life, angered me – his parents wanted a blood test to prove he was the father of our son.
Back then, I didn’t know why they were asking and I wasn’t yet a mother of three sons myself. It felt like a slap in the face. Here I was, without my husband for the last three months of my pregnancy, had just given birth, was facing the knowledge that I would soon lose my child to another woman, and they wanted a blood test.
Reluctantly, I agreed (I was still very naïve in the ways of the world and never thought of the fact that even if I had disagreed, he still had a right to get a blood test for his child.) For my son, the sample was taken before he left the hospital and when my husband made it back to Colorado – the day after I gave up our child – he provided his own sample for the test.
The results were what I already knew, he was the father. What I didn’t know was what his mother and stepfather planned to do with that knowledge.
I was actually with my husband when my adoption counselor called to tell me . . .
My husband’s parents had contacted her to let her know that they, and my husband, wanted to keep our son.
At that time, I didn’t understand that I had been misled about when my rights for my son had actually been terminated. Twenty three years ago, when I gave birth to my oldest son, the law was that a mother had three months to change her mind.
But that wasn’t how it was presented to me. When my counselor first handed me the clipboard in the hospital with the paperwork I needed to sign, it was explained to me that I was, at that time, giving up my rights to my son. And the wait between that time and having to go to court and do so in front of a legal official was just a matter of waiting until we could fit into the schedule to be seen.
So when I received that call less than two weeks after giving birth, I believed I had already given up any and all rights to my son. At first, though, I had this small glimmer of hope. With as desperately as I wanted to keep my son back in the hospital, but didn’t because of my fear of hurting his adoptive parents, I wondered if this could be the answer. My husband and his parents weren’t concerned about the adoptive parents and their feelings. They could be the “monster” I was so terrified of being and I could have my son back.
But that idea was completely destroyed when my adoption counselor told me that if my husband and his parents fought for our son he would then be taken away from his adoptive parents and could spend up to a year or more in foster care while they fought the adoption.
I didn’t know any better then. The only thing I did know, and the one key element that my adoption counselor also knew, was the thought of my son in foster care terrified me. It was why I had first turned down a closed adoption when it was presented to me, because my son would have been placed in foster care before going home with his adoptive parents.
Back then, with the visions I had of foster care and my belief that it would desperately screw up my child to be shuffled between families right after birth, and believing I had given up all my rights to my child so could not possibly ask for him back to save him from such a fate, I was terrified and desperation set in with a vengeance.
And so I did something I will forever regret and am ashamed of admitting, I begged and pleaded with my husband to not try and get our son back.
The memory of that is still deeply imbedded inside me. I can still see myself holding as tight as I could to his hand, crying tears I couldn’t stop, saying whatever I could, whatever might convince him to change his mind.
I did that to him and to my son.
I was one of those women. One that took my husband’s rights as a father and tossed them out the window.
And my husband . . . he reluctantly agreed and convinced his parents that the best thing would be to let our son stay where he was.
That guilt of what I did has forever stayed with me. I’m ashamed of it. I avoid admitting to it if I possibly can.
My oldest son knows the truth but most others don’t.
Most don’t know that I not only gave away my son but also stole the chance he had, and my husband had, to be together.
It is something I have learned to live with but will probably never learn to accept.
And it is also something that will forever drive me to stand up and speak out when other men are denied their rights as fathers. When I see agencies play the same games, tell the same lies, to get a child away from the family that wants them.
I hate what I did. I hate having to live with such a guilt for the rest of my life.
But I have decided, it is long past time to share that dark part of my experience. To use it to show that there are fathers out there who deserve their children and should never be denied the right to have them and raise them and love them.
My husband is an amazing father. Yes he ran in those last few months but that had absolutely nothing to do with his parenting skills and ability to be there for his children.
And today, our oldest son will be the first to tell you, he only has one father – my husband.
The man I cheated out of the right to keep his child. The man who wanted to fight for him when I couldn’t. The man who deserved everything I took away.