You may not have fathered this child in the biblical sense, but here’s what it takes to be his “real” Dad.
As an adoptive father of a four year-old boy, I can tell you that there are hardships ahead for me. I struggle everyday with the knowledge that of the many father/son conversations we have ahead, this will be the most personally painful one for me.
In my years of researching what it’s like to be an adoptive parent (and trust me, I was doing that research even before Quinn came along) I think I have distilled my upcoming challenges down to five fairly common sense, but nevertheless, tough conversations ahead.
Here are the five things I have learned, and will have to remember, to be great father to my son.
You are not his Father
This is the first, and the hardest to accept. You will be hit with this someday like a ton of bricks. His world is going to be rocked when he begins to understand, so this is an eternal battle you should already have fought and conquered by the time he is ready to understand what being adopted really means.
You are his emotional rock, don’t let this shake you.
You are his leader
When you find yourself in hard times, remember that he looks to you for support, but also leadership when he feels weak. For a long-lasting bond to overcome anything, seeing you as a leadership figure will help when those bonds weaken.
You are his friend
So many times, I hear “be a parent, not a friend.” I have to disagree a bit, letting him see you as a human, not just a disciplinarian, is important. Chinks in your armor are important, so that when he has his issues, he knows that he hasn’t let you down, or been unable to live up to you, because he knows that you are a mortal too.
You are his mentor
This is extremely important. Being a mentor means that you are willing to teach him, not just be his buddy or boss, but someone who is willing to educate him in the way the world works. It is all about bond-building, these bonds can help you transcend the emotional hardships ahead.
You are his father
Yep, contradicting myself, but stick with me. You had no biological role in his birth, so no, in the biblical sense you are not his Father. However, you are his leader, his friend and his mentor. If that doesn’t make you a father, I don’t know what does.