Guest post by Teddy’s dad.
Tuesday was a small milestone for us. We had been taking care of Teddy for 6 weeks and 1 day, which is 1 day longer than he spent with his caring foster mom. That meant we had spent more time with him than any other adults in his short life.
There is no doubt that Teddy knows who we are. He turns his head at the sound of Sara’s voice, and when I come home from work, he smiles at me and attaches himself to my shoulder or lap for most of the evening. We laugh and play “rough and tumble” until it is time to get ready for bed. If I put him down, or sometimes even if Sara holds him, he fusses and wants to be with me. Sometime in the last 6 weeks, I became his dad. The weird part is, I’m not entirely sure when exactly that happened.
For a biological dad, it’s cut and dry: dad is “Dad” from day 1. His kid looks like him and may already have some of his mannerisms; he’s been taking care of his son or daughter from day 1.
But that isn’t the case for an adoptive dad. It isn’t quite clear when I became Teddy’s dad.
Was it when I decided or when he decided? I decided to be his dad 96 hours before I met him. Somehow that seems unfair to him. But if it wasn’t my decision, was it Teddy’s? I’m not sure a 3-month-old can decide much of anything. And that doesn’t seem fair to me.
Did I become his dad on our Gotcha Day? Maybe. I certainly became responsible for him, but I was totally foreign to him. I hadn’t spoken to him for the nine months that his birth mom carried him, and I’d had no part in caring for him the first six weeks of his life. I didn’t know what he needed; nor did he know what I was about.
Did I become his dad when we surpassed the time he spent with his foster family? Possibly, but it seems, based upon his reaction to me that I was his dad sometime before that.
And of course, the state of Maryland has a say in all this: I won’t be his dad until the adoption is final, sometime in May or June of 2012.
But as I’ve said before, I’ve come to realize that none of that matters. Regardless of when fatherhood happened to me, Teddy’s my son, and I’m his dad.