The initial excitement of being a grandparent was short-lived. It was replaced by fear, anxiety, and confusion. This was a not a teenage unwed couple–these kids were mid-20′s but emotionally immature. There was a vain attempt to be a ‘couple’ for the sake of the baby but it segued into angst-ridden text messages, conversations and actions borne of their separate personalities and dysfunctions, addled by unsavory lifestyles.
My son had decisions to make about his role. I believe he wanted to participate in the pregnancy and birth of this child, but the conflict and uncertainty of the future between he and the birth mother, gave him a reason to bow out. The birth mother didn’t want any contact with him; indeed, his name was not on the birth certificate.
He went thru his own (non-mandated) DNA testing to establish his parenthood, but it remains invalid in the legal system unless he forces the issue or he is court-ordered to provide DNA. If that is ordered, he would likely be required to financially support the baby from day one. In addition, the birth mother and grandmother did not wish or require him to participate as a parent. A sticky wicket for someone who has been attempting to extract himself from burdensome debts due to poor financial management and lifestyle choices.
Beyond a visit to see the baby for a few days when she was about 2 mos. old, his contribution has been non-existent. No calls, attempts to visit and only minimal funds for support. Indeed this was not asked of him, but he also did not step forward, regardless of what was being asked. When guardianship was sought by the maternal grandmother, he was very angry. He wanted me to step in and declare that he could provide for a suitable home for the baby, as a single parent. My position had to be as an advocate for the baby and her needs.
Where was she best able to receive consistent, loving care? The birth mother has proven to be irresponsible and unreliable. My son has shown very little presence, while maintaining a lifestyle not conducive to being a single parent.
When asked to testify to the court for guardianship by the grandmother, I told the court that I felt the baby’s needs were best served by her grandmother. We were, and continue to be, in constant contact concerning the baby’s welfare. I have visited several times, send ‘care’ packages as often as I can, and ‘talk‘ to my granddaughter and her grandmother almost daily. We email, receive and send pictures, and I am very much a part of her life.
My son felt betrayed by my testimony and our relationship has been even more rocky as a result of the guardianship. However, I maintain that the baby deserves to have a safe, loving home. If this requires my son to relinquish his rights as a father, then I must step aside and let my granddaughter continue to flourish where she is — in her own crib, with her own room and friends, and guardians who watch out for her and marvel at her growing independence.
My son has recently told me that he is not ready to be a parent, and I believe that is true. With the time that has elapsed since the baby’s birth, and through the baby’s struggles and health issues, her maternal grandmother continues as her beacon, her safety net. Hopefully, my son realizes that by essentially doing nothing, he has made his decision not to be a parent. Perhaps there will be a time when she seeks him out and is curious about her father. In the meantime, I will continue to be a part of her life as much as I am able, through the cooperation and friendship of her ‘guardian’ Angel grandmother.
My son and I struggle to regain the closeness we once had as a single-parent mom and only child son, trying to maintain an adult relationship that is separate from his daughter and my granddaughter. My love for him remains unsullied, yet it is with an awareness that perhaps I might have given him a more clearly defined sense of his responsibility as a father.
However, I recognize too, that he has had many positive examples to follow through the years regarding the moral obligations of parenthood. Since his daughter was born, he has chosen to reject the role as father. Fear? Self-interest? Regardless, the baby is where she should be–happy, healthy, and constantly reminded that she is well-loved.