Jun 17 2012 11:45PM
“So I suppose you don’t celebrate Father’s Day…I just presumed, with them being adopted,” he said.
One Friday, a few years ago, a colleague said to me: “So I suppose you don’t celebrate Father’s Day.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, I just presumed, with them being adopted…” his voice trailed off.
I wasn’t offended at first. Taken aback, maybe. It seemed an odd thing to come out with. I think I made an offhand comment about the whole idea of Father’s Day being a bit pointless - something invented by Hallmark’s marketing department. In truth, it was only a few months after Christopher came to live with us. He hadn’t settled well and the trauma he felt every day had infected us.
At that moment, celebrating fatherhood was the last thing on my mind.
But the more I replayed the conversation on the train home that evening, the angrier I became. I kept coming back to “Why?” What is there about my brand of fatherhood that I wouldn’t want to celebrate?
That was five years ago. We’ve moved on since then.
Do we celebrate Father’s Day now? You’re damn right we do. And Mother’s Day. And birthdays. And Christmas. The usuals. Then there’s all the extra anniversaries that our slightly unconventional family makeup gets: the days we first met them, the days they came home with us, the days in court, the days our social worker first told us about them.
Sometimes we celebrate loudly. We don’t care who hears. Other times we’re quieter, Lisa and I, with a hug and a nod at a mark on the calendar.
You see, for all the ups and desperate downs of adoption there is so much to celebrate. Perhaps my colleague saw something lacking in my flavour of fatherhood. A token. A second best. Some beige imitation of what it means to be Dad.
But take a child, a total stranger, help them through their trauma as they mourn the loss of their old life, learning to cope with who they are and why they’re with you. Watch them start to mesh with you, begin to trust you, know you a little more each day as Dad. Do that, and feel their perception of you go from nothing to everything.
Then do it not once, but twice – and really, it’s immense. There’s nothing imitation about it. It’s Fatherhood Plus. Nothing lacking. Everything to celebrate.