Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Single female adoption and fatherlessness


So far in this blog, I have mainly tackled issues regarding race, as far as topics I'm trying to learn more about in parenting. However, being single, there is a huge issue looming.... My dad sent me this article which touches on the issue of single parenting. In my case, by choice. I waited around until it was almost too late, in the hopes of finding a husband and father. But then the years roll by and the question becomes "Do you want to be a mother, or not?" and if so, you need to do it alone. Now, don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful family full of supportive people, but it will definitely not be the same as having a live in father to share the load. And to provide that positive male role model. It can be worrisome, but I have to remember that so many women are doing this without a partner. In fact, several of my divorced friends have told me "If I had to do this over I'd leave the man out of it and just be a single parent!". I guess if the marriage doesn't work out, having to figure out custody and having to stay in touch to discuss parenting would be very hard. Anyway, our new President was raised mainly without a father present. Here's an article from the Washington Post:






A Presidential Spring in My Son's Step

By Susan R. Benda

Washington Post

Saturday, January 24, 2009; A13

Barack Obama is many things to many people. Among the groups claiming a special resonance with him are mothers like me. Who has not seen The Photo (can it be that there is only one?) of toddler Barack and his young mother? His memoir may be titled "Dreams From My Father," but in the preface, Obama says that his mother "was the single constant in my life" and that "what is best in me I owe to her." She brought him up largely on her own.

This is significant for me as an unmarried mother of a preteen son, and it surely resonates for other mothers raising their children without dads. Growing up without a father, my son has at times struggled to feel "normal." All children struggle with that; of course, some struggle more than others. My son, who is white, was startled a few years ago to learn that his best buddy felt that he didn't belong anywhere because his dad was a black African and his mom a white American. My son didn't see the issue of race as a problem -- to him, they were a perfect family.

For my son, the issue is fatherlessness. Not having a father has been an impediment to "fitting in." He yearns for an adult man to call his very own and is uncomfortable when other children talk about their fathers or ask about his. This discomfort has affected his sense of security about his future, about measuring up and "making it" (whatever that means). You wouldn't notice it if you met my cheerful, outgoing boy, but in some intangible way he carries an invisible burden on his little shoulders.

It is hard to watch him do this, even though thousands upon thousands of households today are headed by women who don't have partners. I know, however, that it takes time for the world around us to catch up to where society already is. For example, my son's tae kwon do teacher had the habit of talking to the students about their "moms and dads." I took him aside one day and suggested that the term "parents" might do the trick, with no child left behind. But there is a limit to how much a mother can protect her son from the word "dad." A mother can repeat to her child that there is no model "normal" family, but the world reflected and projected by television tells another story. My son and others like him are a silent and almost invisible minority, but they know who they are.

For these young people, the election to the presidency of a man who grew up without a dad signifies a seismic shift. The mere candidacy of Barack Obama has spoken eloquent volumes to my son where my words had failed. I know this because my son now walks a bolder walk and talks a more confident talk. The doors of his imagination have swung open, and his sense of his place in the world has changed. He is proud to share this identity with the new president. For my son, Obama's inauguration this week felt like a personal embrace. For him and for the growing number of children being raised by their mothers alone, all of the ceremony showed something, in a concrete way, that our words alone cannot: Yes, you can.
The writer is a lawyer living in Washington.

6 comments:

j-momma said...

i was raised by a single mother. and to be honest, as a girl, i always wanted a father. in fact, when i was little i would pretend my friend's dads were mine too. BUT, my mom was a great mom. and i would rather have one good mom than two sucky parents (which unfortunately is the case in many families). i learned a lot from being raised by a single woman. it wasn't by choice on her part. she got pregnant with me really young and the whole deadbeat dad thing. we always struggled with money problems. but i learned not to take things for granted and the value of hard work. BUT, i think it's very important for all kids to have positive role model of both genders. maybe there's an uncle or neighbor who can do that for your daughter. i think if i had a male role model in my life, i would have grown up with better self-esteem and the ability to relate to men better.

J-momma said...

in answer to your question on my blog post about grieving, yes he is fully attached now. however, there are still effects of the early loss and placements. and we had to really fight for that attachment.

http://confessionsofj-momma.blogspot.com/2008/11/in-conclusion.html.

this is the post i wrote shortly after outlining what he's like now, how the trauma has effected him and still may, and our current challenges. you might find the answers there. and yes, WTF??? is exactly what i was thinking. i am still pretty mad when i think about them treating MY baby that way. i really hope they don't get any other kids placed with them.

Michelle J said...

When I read that you know of woemn who said that if they were to do it over they'd leave the man out of it...Wow, that upsets me. I wonder what the children think of that? No matter the struggles between my son's father and I, we made sure our son had a relationship with his father. Boys AND girls benefit greatly from having a father figure. Of course a woman can raise a child on her own and do it brilliantly, but don't discount the importance of a male role model for both genders.

Adopting1Soon said...

Michelle, yes, there were two divorced women who said that to me. One of them had an alcoholic for a husband... he had affairs and they fought a lot. The other I don't know the whole story, but she said the EXACT same thing. I also had a friend in college who kept wishing her parents would get a divorce. it was traumatic to live in her house, she said, and listen to all the constant fighting. So while I totally agree that having a dad in the picture is ideal, I can also see certain scenarios where it might be better for there not to be a dad. Or not to have a mom. I think the women who told me that comment went through some stuff that damaged themselves and maybe the kids too. Of course, I also have a friend whose father left the family when she was 3, and she's never gotten over the abandonment and has chosen unhealthy relationships with men since she started dating. I'm just going to have to find a man, I guess ;-) !!

MOTHER TO AN ETHIOPIAN PRINCESS said...

Michelle,

Of course, in an “ideal world” a child having a mother and father would be the best situation for the child because they need both role models in their life.

What I have found is that society has embraced the married adoptive couple for rescuing or adopting a child and elevate them to the status of saints whereas single mothers are not always so readily applauded for their desire and plan to pursue motherhood through adoption. People will accuse the single mother of selfishness for not providing the child with a father but would it be better if the child stayed in an orphanage their whole life with neither a mother or a father?

As a single mother, I have the same needs and desires to love and nurture a child just like any other married couple. Furthermore, it's not reasonable to assume that all married couples will stay married nor should it be presumed that all singles will forever remain single. As a single mother, my individual character, strength, and parenting capacity is what should be considered in providing my daughter with a nurturing home, which I’m obviously capable of doing.

Scripture says that "a man who finds a wife, finds a good thing." So, I'm waiting for God to send me my husband so my daughter can have a father. It's HIGHLY possible because I just spoke my husband into existence.

Andrea

Michelle J said...

Andrea, please don't misunderstand me. I love that Mika is adopting and think she will be a fabulous mom. I think it's wonderful that you have adopted. As I previously stated-- Of course a single woman can raise a child and do it brilliantly. I have no issue with a single woman or man adopting. None. However, I do believe children benefit greatly from having both a male and a female role model in their lives. My concern isn't with a single person adopting, rather that the role of the opposite gender parent not be dismissed.
And Mika, your dad, a cousin, an uncle..ALL of them will come together to provide your daughter with a healthy, loving example of what it is to be a good man.