Father of mine
Tell me where did you go
You had the world inside your hand
But you did not seem to know...
Although most of the lyrics of the song technically don't apply much to my current situation, I find this tune by Everclear playing in my head a lot the past several weeks. There have been some interesting developments in my life lately. Not earth-shattering (that might come later) but for now... just very interesting.
For most of you your origins are clear. Most of you see your parents on a regular basis if they're still alive, or every day if you're still living at home. You go to family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, and you see lots of people who look kind of like you, talk kind of like you, and walk kind of like you. Even the far-flung relatives who aren't much like you, there might be a glimmer, a spark of resemblance if you look very hard.
For me, not so much.
It's not a big deal, don't get me wrong. I didn't even know I was adopted until I was 22. As far as the family I know, it's not like I look so dissimilar that you could look at them and look at me and automatically deduce that I don't belong. Which is why I had had no idea. Shortly after I found out I went to a Christmas party with some of the family on my biological mother's side. They were nice and it was interesting to see others that I was actually related to, chatting with them, eating with them as Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings played on the television. I did not actually see my mother, though. I didn't want to from what they'd told me of her: a hermit living in a trailer filled with trash and stacks of old newspapers.
So I learned quite a bit about my mother and that side of the family. It was the only side my mom (note: whenever I say mom I mean my adoptive mom, the woman who raised me) ever had had contact with. I was told next to nothing about my biological father. I was told his name and what city he might be living in and that he maybe had another family. Or something.
That was in 1998 and in nine years I hadn't learned any more than that. I was taken away, not given up, along with my then two-year-old sister (she's a really long story for another write-up; all you need to know is I haven't seen her or wanted to see her for fourteen years). This was mainly due to the fact that I was beaten pretty severely when I was just weeks old. The exact circumstances involving that whole process is still fuzzy to me. I get little pieces here and there, but exactly when it happened, how long I was in the hospital, and why after that the only parent to get visitation was my mother I don't know.
That could change.
You see, I was never on a serious quest to find my biological father or anybody else in the family on either side. That might make me unlike most adoptees. I did a few web searches on a whim and so did my wife, but I never expected to come across what we did. It was a posting on a genealogy site by a woman, speaking on behalf of her uncle who was looking for his kids. She named my sister specifically and the middle name she was born with is so... well let's just say unique... that it would have had to have been an astronomical coincidence that I didn't actually just find a biological cousin.
An email conversation started, where at first I was pretending I just was somebody who knew myself and my sister so I could remain anonymous and safe. After several exchanges I felt comfortable saying I was actually his son - which she was cool with - and I began asking about my father: who he was, what was he like, where was he now, thereabouts? I was expecting to be told he was at least somewhat of a cool person, a decent human being. I understood that the mistake a lot of adoptees made before meeting their real parents was to have expectations too high. I thought I was safely setting the bar fairly low.
As it turns out, my father is a pathetic loser.
First of all, he doesn't have a job. He lives with his mother - who is 80 years old - and is mooching off of her. Second, he punched a former girlfriend in the eye for having the audacity to touch his collection of "army men" (presumably the little green plastic figurines). At family gatherings (reunions, birthday parties) they all call him "bozo." Although there were other details revealed to me those three things went farthest in hashing out the man's character to me.
Of course I have no way of knowing for sure that this woman is telling me the truth about anything. Although I cannot conceive of a motivation to not tell me the truth. But now I have serious doubts about ever wanting to meet my father or have any contact with him. Which would mean that it is unlikely I will ever meet either of my birthparents.
Am I devastated? No. But I am disappointed. I had expected something slightly better. I am nowhere close to being the most normal person in the world, but I turned out all right. I have a great job, a beautiful wife, and an awesome little son. It baffles me when I really think about it how I could have come from such a pedigree. Is it the old nature vs. nurture? Was I simply not with those people long enough? I look at my son and he is so much like me! He walks and - more and more - he talks the same. And he's picking up so many of my mannerisms. Some of them he's had since he was a baby and I am convinced that they had to be genetically inherited somehow. I know it should be a no brainer that I didn't end up like my parents because I wasn't raised by them. When I look into my son's eyes, though, and I see so much of me there and he's only just under three years old, it's not so simple. That's why it seems so odd to me. I also want to see how much he looks like me. I've been sent pictures from my grandmother's 80th birthday party of other people in my family. Some of them do indeed resemble me. But she didn't have any of my father. I want to see if I see more than physical resemblance, though.
This is why I may want to meet this man in some manner after all. I would like to see if I see myself in his eyes, too. But I could be opening Pandora's Box by satisfying that curiosity. Who knows, seeing how successful I have become might inspire him to better himself. A long shot, but possible. He's in his fifties; it's still not too late. Or he could be dangerous - he might of been the one who hurt me (but now the difference is that I hit back). Or he might hit me up for money (the woman I've been talking to says that's a good possibility; I've also been told my mother would do that). But possibly worse than all of that would be apathy. What I had imagined would happen when I revealed to my cousin who I really am was much different than reality; I pictured pandemonium on that end, frantic calls to somebody exclaiming "After all these years we've found him!" But it was more like "Oh hey, that's cool. By the way your father's a loser." If I ever go to meet him and all I get is that indifference the whole event will have been pointless and anticlimactic.
Or something completely unpredictable could happen. At any rate, I have some decisions to make. My cousin has jokingly said she might "fuck with him" and tell him she's found his son but refuse to give out information until he gets a job. I have recently asked her to go ahead and tell him she's found me; I'm curious as to how he'll react. Maybe I'll get my answer then.
I know that I'd be ecstatic if I had found my son after thirty years of being away from him. It's incomprehensible to me at how little some people care for or about their children. It will always continue to be.
My daddy gave me a name!
And he walked away!
My daddy gave me a name!
Yeah.... yeah... oh yeah...