Earning the Title of Dad

Earning the Title of Dad
Posted on 06/13/2018

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Father’s Day is always filled with much emotion for me. It’s full of the realizations of the awesomeness of what we get to do in the foster and adoption journey. It also leads me to realize the hurt in the world that causes so much pain.

As Father’s Day approaches, I anticipate the handmade cards that will consist of hand drawn depictions of me mixed with various villains, dinosaurs and superheroes. Each will be unique. Each will be their own. And, each will be their own idea of who I am to them. Even though not all of the kids are biologically mine, all of the cards will be addressed to me as Dad. 

There is one card that always stands out to me. It belongs to one girl. We’re in the final stages of adopting her and her two siblings. So, she still has her birth surname. In fact, it goes beyond the surname to the relationship she maintains with her birth parents. That’s something we encourage and facilitate. 

Due to these circumstances and the circumstances of her life in general, she refers to me not as Dad but as uncle. And that’s ok. I’ll never decide for her, who I am to her. Whatever she’s comfortable with is fine by me. So, here is where her card always has special significance to me. 

Her Father’s Day card always refers to me as Dad, not as uncle, but Dad. Perhaps there is safety in the written word that makes it easier to write it then a spoken word is to utter. Perhaps she’s using the card as a testing ground to prepare herself for the finalization of adoption. I don’t know. Either way these cards remind me of how awesome the privilege is of being a parent to someone who, through no fault or actions of their own, find themselves in need of a home and in need of a caregiver who they may or may not refer to as their Dad. 

Whether I’m a foster parent or adoptive parent, I have the privilege to be a parent to a child who was not brought into my life through biological means, but  through a broken world. And, due to the messiness, I may need to earn the title of Dad with this amazing young lady. And with all that “Dad” should mean, that seems reasonable. Though, with each card I receive maybe it’s her way of saying that even with my faults and failures I’ve already earned the title Dad. And here is where she is most comfortable telling me.  

Greg is a foster and adoptive parent with the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex. He’s been married to Isabel for 24 wonderful years and has 10 children, four through biology, three through adoptions and three fostering, soon to be adopted.

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