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I know a lot of men who have become fathers over the course of the last year and I can’t help but be excited for them. I’ve had my turn with sleepless nights and ear infections with my three kids, so they can enjoy that part; still, there’s nothing as rewarding or as hard as parenthood.
What makes this Father’s Day different from all the others is that some of these new fathers I know have found their adult children for the first time, who until March 20th of this year were separated by Ohio’s adoption laws. The men and women who have found their birth fathers thanks to the change in our law will also find new meaning in this year’s holiday.
One of the things I learned while working with advocates and other legislators to get Ohio’s birth records changed is that many birth parents are open to having a relationship with the child they put up for adoption. I’ve also learned that it’s hard for me to really appreciate the emotions of being adopted despite having an adopted sister.
Imagine being on Facebook in the evening when you receive a message from someone who says they are your son or daughter. Or opening an envelope from the Ohio Department of Health and inside is your original birth certificate with your birth mother and father’s name on it.
I’ve been lucky enough to hear from fathers who have been found and sons and daughters who have found their fathers since March. Emails are exchanged, phone calls take place, siblings are introduced and new traditions created with whole new families both always wondered about, but weren’t sure they would ever get to see. Thanks to Senate Bill 23, more of these reunions are happening and will continue to happen as more and more adoptees request their records.
Not every story has a happy ending and for those who will not meet their birthparents, medical information is now available to them about their biological families. I’m told there is a certain peace and closure that comes with knowing more about where you have come from and what challenges you may face in the future.
All families have their ups and downs but this Father’s Day I hope we take a moment to remember how lucky we are to have our fathers and to be a father. Our dads are a source of strength, as well as our guide, coach, leader, provider, symbol of safety, connection to our past and an inspiration for our future.