Why, might you ask? We weren’t separated at his birth and serendipitously reconnected in the style of a TV family drama if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s far more confusing that that. Because of current Irish law, in order for my husband to become the legal father of my child, we both have to adopt our son. I will no longer be his birth mother, but his adoptive mother.
You read that last sentence right. I will be the adoptive mother to the child that I gave birth to.
If you find that difficult to get your head around, brace yourself. It’s the tip of the iceberg in the murky territory that you must delve into when deviating from the traditional family unit in 21st century Ireland.
I am writing this because I need to. Because there is so little information online and in the public domain on what I am currently going through. Because Irish society doesn’t feel the need to set up support groups for parents who are undergoing the arduous and heart wrenching process that is step parent adoption. Because no one discusses the complicated situations that more and more families find themselves in as we modernize but our laws fail to keep up. Because if I don’t, I will turn my anger of the situation in on myself and that won’t be good for anyone. Least of all my beautiful son, who is blissfully unaware of the lengths we are going to in order to ensure his safety.
So, here goes.
My husband is not the “birth father” of my child. But he is his father in the truest sense. He was there when I first realised our baby’s existence, when those two pink lines appeared. He was there when we found out we were having a son. He was at the birth and the first person to lay eyes on him. He was there during every sleepless night, every nappy change, every cold, cough and tooth, his first words, his first movements, his first everything. He has provided my son with a loving home. He has been the most amazing and devoted parent from day one. But because they are not biologically connected, they have no legal relationship. He is not, nor can ever be, my son’s legal guardian. He cannot apply for guardianship or custody. I am his sole guardian.
The biological father does not know my child’s name. He has not contacted me in over three years. He did not want to know this child and has not changed his mind since. But at any point, until my son reaches his eighteenth birthday, he can apply for access or guardianship. And from what we’re told, he has a better chance of getting it than we thought possible. We have never heard a word or seen a cent from him in respect to our son. But because of his biological link, he has the potential to gain rights. Rights that my husband does not have. Rights that we have to jumps through hoops to obtain.
I want to tell our story for us, but also for those who are also going through this bizarre and invasive process. Because if we don’t start discussing the implications our law has on us as citizen and demanding better treatment, we will continue to be subject to unfair and outdated legislation that usually serves men over women.
I am going to maintain anonymity while writing this blog. It is not because I am ashamed, but because this is the beginning of my son’s life story and it is largely his to tell. I want him to be proud of who he is but I also want him to have ownership over his origins and be able to to tell the world himself who he is and where he came from. If you know me personally and have realized that it is me writing, please, for my son’s sake, respect our privacy.
I would be delighted if you would like to leave feedback, ask questions, or share your own experience in the comments section.
I will continue updating the blog as we wade through the process. Wish us luck.