Saturday, June 20, 2015

Father's Day for the Donor Conceived

Father's Day hits a lot of donor conceived people hard.  This will be my first Father's Day knowing who my biological father is.  We aren't in touch.  There is no question of if I should reach out to him or send him something -- he said he wants nothing to do with me, so he will never hear from me again.  I wonder if his Real Children will say anything about him on Facebook that day.  We're Facebook friends, my younger half-siblings and I.  I'd like to see more old photos of him, hear facts about what he's like as a person, but I don't expect them to say anything about him to me or on social media.  They post a lot, but the last time either of them posted photos of our father to social media was close to a decade ago.  I can't believe Facebook has been around for so long.

I won't be reaching out to my dad -- my non-biological social father -- on Father's Day either.  I made a decision not to spend more on that relationship than I get out of it, and not to do anything that will make me feel resentful of the fact that he seems mostly indifferent toward me.  Initially that meant I wouldn't manage his finances anymore or do him favors unless he occasionally prefaced his requests with "how are you?" or acknowledged my daughter's existence.  I told him I wanted him to ask after me and my daughter.  He said okay, but he never did it.  His messages were about doing things for him, so they could have been to anyone. 

It took time and effort to turn the reins of his finances over to him, but it saved me a lot of time and effort soon thereafter.  I also appreciate not having to watch him squander his new savings on tens of thousands of dollars of music equipment and a car he can't drive and -- for some unknown reason -- a collection of over one hundred pipes.  Hoarders need their collections, I guess.

A year or two ago, I decided I could afford mentally and emotionally to send greetings on holidays and his birthday.  Email only, and never more than a line of text because that was how much I could do without having to think about it.  That was how much I could do without starting to feel bad.  But even that much started to feel like a drain.  Last Thanksgiving I realized I didn't even want to expend that minimal amount of energy trying to stay in contact.  I would respond to anything he sent me, but I wasn't going to struggle to keep this relationship alive.  The 2014 holiday season passed with not a word between us.  Surprisingly, it felt good to me.  I had more energy to spend with friends and family who are pleasant and seem to love me.

Father's Day has never been particularly hard for me.  I've been lucky that way.  My dad always accepted gifts from me with a smile, so the holiday never held the stress or looming threat of Mother's Day.  This year my daughter is old enough to color a card and help make plans.  I mentioned the possibility of taking her dad out for ice cream, and she hasn't stopped talking about it.  Maybe we'll make pizza or go out for lunch too.  My husband never has expectations for holidays, so we'll do something simple and have fun together, like we do for Mother's Day.  I expect my brother Hans will have similar traditions.  He's a father too now.  I expect I'll see a photo of him and his son on Facebook this Sunday.  I wonder what my sister will do.  I wonder if they'll call our father privately, or send him a card or a gift.  I wonder how he responds to cards and gifts and phone calls.  I wonder what he's like.

I hope he thinks of me.  He is my father, after all, regardless of how he looks at the situation.  I don't recall thinking of my biological father much on Father's Day in the past, but this is the first year my father has been a specific person, rather than some nebulous idea.  He's Joseph Von Trapp now, rather than "a doctor with blue eyes who is a probably good at math."  It's strangely new and real, having a person for a father, and I think of him.  I don't expect him ever to care for me, but I want him to think of me occasionally too, even if it's with regret.  Regret would be better than nothing.  Regret would mean I'm real to him too.

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