While fathers were enjoying barbecues or maybe a catch with their sons and daughters in celebration of Father’s Day this past Sunday, there were many expectant fathers who were eagerly looking forward to next June, when they would be the center of attention. There were also those expectant fathers wondering if their decision to create an adoption plan was the right one. It is those expectant dads that I’d like to focus on this week.
It’s no surprise that expectant mothers and their babies traditionally receive most of the attention and care during the birthing process. I think we can all agree that is how it should be. However, expectant fathers need attention too. Just like moms, they have concerns, questions and fears. This is especially true of expectant fathers in unplanned pregnancy situations when adoption is being considered. That’s why expectant fathers should know that pregnancy counseling is an option for them as well.
The adoption process can be difficult for everyone involved. Understandably, emotions run high with all parties – the birthparents and adoptive parents. For expectant fathers, it’s often a feeling of isolation…of being alone. Birthmothers typically receive counseling from trained social workers as part of the adoption process, while birthfathers do not. In fact, counseling specifically for birthfathers is something we at Bethany only started several years ago, thanks to the efforts of a professional social worker in our Central Iowa office.
William Walker is a licensed social worker with Bethany and, more importantly, a father of four, so he is familiar with the thoughts, questions and fears that arise when faced with becoming a dad. In 2010, he was approached by our Central Iowa branch to work with an expectant father who needed counseling. From that meeting came the idea to offer counseling to expectant fathers in unplanned pregnancies, giving birthfathers the support they desperately need, making sure they understand that they have rights, making them feel comfortable about sharing their feelings and concerns, and answering any questions.
The results of the birthfather counseling in Central Iowa have been amazing with over 50 expectant fathers receiving critical counseling support. We’ve been so impressed with the impact William has had that we’ve begun offering birthfather counseling in a number of other locations across the country with an eye at making it available at each.
It’s truly remarkable how much progress has been made relative to adoption in the past 20 years. We’ve seen a dramatic shift from closed adoptions to open adoptions, significant improvements have been made in how we work with birth and adoptive families, and birthfathers have a far greater network of support in which to turn to. So, to any birthfathers who think they are alone, please know that you are not. If you are struggling and need professional support, do not hesitate to contact a professional social worker for the support you require.