This was written by our employee Sam from our Wynnewood office and was published in our newsletter a few years ago. Sam has taught the women at AFTH a lot about the man’s role in the adoption process and for this we are very grateful.
In the past I have had the pleasure of presenting a seminar titled “Adoption From A Man’s Point of View”. Of note is that the workshop was billed as “For Men Only.” As I had never before given or attended a presentation on this topic, I will admit that it was with some trepidation that I waited to see if anyone would attend, and what the attitudes might be of any attendees. While I was encouraged by the slow but steady flow of men who filed into the hall, my fears were not allayed as the majority of them took seats located at the perimeter of the room, and as far away from the podium as possible.
I began the workshop with the confession that, just as the field of adoption tends to be female-dominated, that I had been volunteered/coerced into doing this presentation by some of the women with whom I work. (I should have known that assignments such as this were in store for me when, upon my hiring by Adoptions From The Heart in January of 2004, I learned that I was the only full-time male employee of an organization with more than 50 full-time employees!) When I followed this admission by asking how many of the men in the room were at the Conference at the behest of their wives, at least half of the hands in the room went up and, simultaneously, I could feel people’s levels of anxiety and awkwardness go down.
As I shared my experiences as an adoptive father of three children, I sensed that some of the men in the room were able to relate their own experiences to mine. I also came to the realization that this chance for men to connect with other men in their adoptive process is an opportunity of value in which many men do not take part. As far as my planned agenda, lecture fairly quickly gave way to discussion. Questions posed by attendees included those regarding:
– engagement in the adoption process.
– quality of relationships between adoptive fathers and their children.
– work and lifestyle adjustments to be considered upon completion of the adoption process.
– maintaining a healthy marital relationship
As the hour came to a close, I did take a few minutes to share the findings of the very few research studies done in regard to adoptive fatherhood. A summation of these findings is that adoptive fathers report:
– extraordinarily positive feelings about being fathers
– closer relationships with their children than do fathers who raise their own biological children
– greater participation in, and enjoyment of, child rearing activities than fathers raising their own biological children
– higher marital satisfaction with their wives than do parents who raise their children by birth
I added that these findings seem to me explicable due not only to the necessary role that men must play in the adoption process, but also due to the relative equality between husband and wife in the adoption process, when compared to spousal roles during a pregnancy. Additionally, I stated that the findings seem reasonable to me because an adoption can only occur when both husband and wife are intent upon becoming parents, whereas this cannot always be stated in regard to procreation.
As we all left to attend the next session of the Conference, it gave me a rewarding feeling when several of the men stopped` me to say that they felt they had benefited from their attendance at the seminar. So, to the women with whom I work, and to those who ran the Conference, a note of thanks for guiding/pushing us to participate in this seminar. And, to the men out there, I hope to see you front and center next year, if the aforementioned women will have us.