2/4 blog posts by Guest Blogger Jon Simpson
the issue of fatherlessness - whether through physical or emotional absence - has been popping up on my radar over and over again for a long while now. not just in the context of my family's adoption journey, though it's only reasonable that the intersections there wouldn't be lost on me.
about a month ago i watched the justin hunt film absent, which examines this issue. One thing that stuck with me is its assertion that boys and girls universally and instinctively look to their father for the answer to a small set of questions. One set is unique to boys: "am i good enough? do i have what it takes? can i be a man?" The other is unique to girls: "am i beautiful? do you love me? am i valued?"
you can check out the film to get more details (i'd recommend it) but one of the aspects that's so brutal to me is the difficulty (that word may be a gross understatement) with which the fatherless are subsequently able to have decisive, satisfactory answers to those self-defining questions. when our fathers don't provide positive answers to those questions, we're hardwired to continue to seek out the answers...usually over and over again. Thus:
- adult males still act as children, trying to prove their manhood in one achievement or confrontation after another;
- women look for affirmation of their worth in multiple, sometimes self-destructive, relationships or other ways...
and the outcomes of these attempts, even if "successful," are only temporary. it seems the key setting for a child's best chance to have airtight, positive answers to these questions are from his/her father, in the earliest of formational days. as absent posits, the father is the very first external human to accept or reject a child.
i can't get away from the role of trust in all of this. it occurs to me that a father gets one "gimme" on trust when it comes to his child. a baby in her/his helpless state offers herself/himself to a father. after that, the father’s got to earn it.
humans are imperfect. including fathers (yes, thank you, no applause necessary for that little earth-shattering gem of knowledge). we screw up. and even after the trust of a child is given to a father, that trust has to be maintained and cared for (and maybe rebuilt to varying degrees) by the father.
so what happens when a child has had absolutely no father during those critically formational years, is still a child, and - whiplash - now is put into a situation with a man who is resolved to be that child's father? what does that mean for the child? what does that mean for that adoptive father?
if you haven't figured it out yet, let me be clear: what does that mean for me? honestly a few expletives come to mind, but i'll do my best to continue with a clear head in my next post...