Our open adoption part II: the birth father (+ Ghost Story poem)

The first five paragraphs of this post just got transferred to a bus waiting to depart the Mama C terminal at a date to be determined.  I have too many unresolved feelings around a story that is far too biased from my point of view to post it here.

The “open” part of my relationship with Sam’s birth father lasted for about two months after the termination of his parental rights when Sam was eight months old.  In that open period, he and I did have a couple of written exchanges, which, thankfully included an exchange of photos, from here to there, and from there to here.  Then, for reasons I am not going to elaborate on here (more on my part then his), our contact ended. It is my understanding that he is still able to contact us, through our agency, should he wish to do so.  It is my intention, and responsibility to renew that offer. This  is something I haven’t been willing or able to go about yet.  It feels as if it will soon be that time again, in a good way.

Shifting my feelings about things that transpired in between Sam’s birth, and the termination of the birth father’s parental rights eight month’s later  is work that I still have to do.  I’m not ready to tell the story until then.

In the meantime I will say that I keep imagining a positive outcome for Sam and him one day, and hope that I know how to facilitate it, when and if I am asked to. Until then, I’ll keep writing poems, and praying for guidance. In honor of poetry month, and the fact that tomorrow night I am reading two poems (Black Enough, and Crazy Hair Day) to an audience of over 300 at our faculty talent show, I’ll close this post with a poem I wrote about all of this last July. Wild how much has already changed in me, and in Sam since then.

Ghost story

Mom there is a man creeping up right behind you
Sammy says to me after dinner the other night.
I turn around slowly
trying to pretend I am scared.
Noticing I am actually scared.
I get wide eyed and ask him
if he saw a ghost?
No and yes.

He is learning about ghosts.
They like the dark, not the light.
He asks me to talk like they do–make the wooo-wooo sound.
No, not like that! Like this, WOOOO WOOOO.
He wants to be afraid-
he doesn’t want to be afraid.

He won’t go into the little bathroom at night now
since he decided it was the perfect place for one.
This has resulted in several accidents.
I am planning on hosting a tea party
in the dark and inviting this ghost
so we can befriend it.
This will reduce the amount of laundry I have to do.

His ghosts seem so small now-
still wary of the light.

He doesn’t have the ghost of his birth mother’s
to contend with yet.
The ghost of wondering what it would have been like
to have been raised by her,
to have been raised by the beautiful black woman
that shares your blood
and has your eyes
and all the what-else-ghosts
instead of me.

Or is she my ghost, still?

What about his birth father,
what will that ghost look like to Sam?
Will he be the kind that haunts him all of his life
from just behind the door to his identity
as a man,
as a father one day?

Or will that be the ghost Sam meets head on
in his dreams,
or over the phone
when he asks him
how come he didn’t want to be his dad-
when he could have been?


  1. ironic…i face the same ghosts…although my son was not adopted but his my birthright. however, since his father chooses not to be in the picture, i face every day—the day when that ghost will arise from the dead like a luminous sprite. only, the living will have to face the fall-out of the death of father past. i always think that the ghosts have the better deal. but, then i look at my son’s face and know that his father ghost is living a half-dead nightmare. i should pray nightly for that ghost’s spiritual rest. and, when he returns, i will not plague him but will sit back in silence. since he’s a ghost, there’s only so much damage he can do. we in the living will take our mistakes as they come and try to make peace with all of the love that we have to offer, simply because we won’t be haunted with regrets.

    peace to you.

  2. Catherine, each time I visit, my world becomes greater. The questions and situations you pose are simple-yet so complex, so human-but they’ve never occurred to me without provocation. Thanks so much for enriching my life. I leave here looking to my children, and my ghosts, dead and alive, with a renewed sense of enlightenment, and maybe even a hint of resolve.

  3. Poetry really is just the best way to express complicated feelings. While difficult, Sam may be just fine afterall knowing that his mom cares this much about his feelings and his heritage. Thanks for another thoughtful post. Sniff…

  4. This post was beautiful. I could relate to it on so many aspects and it really hit home. The way you express your feelings and your thoughts is a remarkable skill that you’ve mastered.

Leave a Reply